comments_image Comments

Del. Tea Party Senate Candidate O'Donnell Opposes Women in Military

UPDATE: (4:48 p.m. EDT) Ovide Lamontagne has conceded the G.O.P. primary race to Kelly Ayotte, despite the race's eligibility for a recount. UPDATE (1:49 p.m. EDT): Kelly Ayotte was just declared the winner in last night's G.O.P. primary for New Hampshire's U.S. Senate seat, defeating Ovide Lamontagne by 1667 votes. However, recount appears likely. Christine O'Donnell, the Tea Party candidate who won Delaware's G.O.P. nomination for U.S. Senate doesn't think women belong in the military. And Ovide Lamontagne, who is tied for the U.S. Senate Republican nomination, thinks the teaching of creationism -- the biblical story of human origins -- as science in public schools is a fine idea. This is not your father's G.O.P. At Religion Dispatches, Sarah Posner unearthed C-SPAN video of O'Donnell from the '90s -- back when the Republican Senate nominee was press secretary for the Concerned Women for America -- in which the candidate says that women have no place in the armed forces because their presence "distracts" men. O'Donnell's comments were made during a 1995 discussion of the forced gender-integration of the Citadel, a publicly-financed military academy in South Carolina. "By integrating women into particularly military institutes, it cripples the readiness of our defense," O'Donnell said. "Schools like The Citadel train young men to confidently lead other young men into a battlefield where one of them will die. And when you have women in that situation, it creates a whole new set of dynamics which are distracting to training these men to kill or be killed." And as my colleague, Tana Ganeva, blogged, O'Donnell believes that the creation of the earth happened in six days, just as it says in the Bible. And she's not the only creation-booster on the G.O.P./Tea Party Senate slate. In New Hampshire, the candidacy of Ovide Lamontagne is still being decided, so tight is the vote count between establishment candidate Kelly Ayotte (who had the backing of Sarah Palin) and the former G.O.P. gubernatorial candidate. In 1995, when religious right forces from outside the state helped stage an electoral coup in the school board of Merrimack, a large suburb of Manchester, Lamontagne was the chairman of the State Board of Education. The New York Times reported in 1995 that Lamontagne said "he had no objection to a local district 'teaching about creation science as an alternative to evolution' and that the Bible could appropriately be used in class as 'anecdotal evidence' to support the lesson." I was on the ground in Merrimack in '95, reporting the creationism flap and the ascendancy of the religious right for Mother Jones. The fight was bitter, and staged by national-level religious-right players, including the Christian Coalition, quite deliberately to coincide with the onset of the campaign for the New Hampshire presidential primary. At that time, Ralph Reed was the Christian Coalition's executive director. Today, he heads the Tea Party movement's get-out-the-vote operation through his new Faith and Freedom Coalition, which he said that God, speaking through Sean Hannity, urged him to create. If Lamontagne wins is bout with Ayotte, you can count on Reed to put boots on the ground for the creationism supporter. And for O'Donnell, Reed's support is a given. So, do we still think the Tea Party movement is a secular uprising?