WASHINGTON, April 20, 2010 -- Is America a Christian nation?
Sarah Palin said on Friday that it's "mind-boggling" to suggest otherwise.
But two groups dedicated to the separation of church and state are now speaking out against her, arguing that she is misreading the founders' intent.
"It's incredibly hypocritical that Sarah Palin, who disapproves of government involvement in just about anything, now suddenly wants the government to help people be religious," Barry Lynn, the executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, told ABC News.
"It is wildly inconsistent with her views on limited government to get the government involved in matters of faith."
Lynn was reacting to remarks Palin gave last Friday in Louisville, Ky., one day after a federal judge in Wisconsin ruled that the National Day of Prayer, created in 1952 by Congress, violated the First Amendment.
"We hear of a judge's ruling that our National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional," said Palin. "I think we'll be challenging that one."
"God truly has shed his grace on thee -- on this country," Palin told the Women of Joy conference. "He's blessed us, and we better not blow it."
Without ever mentioning him by name, Palin also took aim at President Obama, repeating an often cited but incorrect claim that Obama said he believed that the U.S was no longer a Christian nation during a 2006 speech.
"And then, hearing any leader declare that America isn't a Christian nation and poking an ally like Israel in the eye, it's mind-boggling to see some of our nation's actions recently, but politics truly is a topic for another day."
A written text of the speech posted at BarackObama.com of the June 2006 keynote address at the Call to Renewal Conference indicated that Obama had written that (emphasis added) "We are no longer just a Christian nation, but we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation..."
Palin, who used to attend the Assembly of God church and is currently not a member of any church, used her speech to reject the notion that God and state should be kept separate.
"Lest anyone try to convince you that God should be separated from the state, our founding fathers, they were believers," said Palin. "And George Washington, he saw faith in God as basic to life."
"In Washington's farewell address, he wrote 'Of all the dispositions and habits that lead to political prosperity, religion, faith, morality are indispensible supports,'" she continued. "So Women of Joy, remember that, and remember that even today this nation needs you."
Palin Tells 'Mom of Faith Movement' Not to Listen to Critics
A spokesman for the Secular Coalition for America told ABC News that Palin is misconstruing the founders' intent on matters of church and state.
"While the founders' views on religion varied from person to person, there is no doubt that they believed strongly that religion had no place in government," said Paul Fidalgo, the communications manager for the Secular Coalition for America. "John Adams signed the Treaty of Tripoli which stated in no uncertain terms that 'the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.'
"Our Constitution established a secular government and has no mention of Jesus, Christianity, or a god of any kind, despite the false message spread by figures such as Sarah Palin who claim that America was founded as a Christian nation," Fidalgo continued.
Palin told the women in attendance, whom she referred to as a "mom of faith movement," that they should not listen to critics who would make them feel that their movement is "all a low-cost brand of ignorance."
"Really, it's just the opposite," said Palin. "And I think the more we're involved, the more we're going to rock this world."