Not a Gaffe

August 31, 2006

After Katherine Harris told the Florida Baptist Witness that the separation of church and state was a “lie,” she was rightly criticized by many. However, some critics seemed to downplay the significance of the statement by calling it a “gaffe.” For instance, this language was used in an Orlando Sentinel column, a Slate Magazine piece, and elsewhere.

However, to call the Harris comment a “gaffe” is to completely miss the seriousness of the situation. After all, a gaffe is a mistake or an error. Sometimes it is even used to describe when someone says something that is true but just socially impolite to say. Neither meaning is appropriate for the Harris comment.

This was not a mistake. That is to say, she did not say something she did not believe. There are too many Christians that that honestly believe that the historic principle of separation is really a “lie.” She likely did not want the mainstream media attention to the comment, but she did not mistakenly say something she does not believe. Additionally, the second meaning of “gaffe” is entirely wrong since there is no truth to her comment.

It is time for real and mainstream Baptists to be very clear about comments such as the recent one by Harris. Let us not water down our language and give her out. Her statement was not a “gaffe.” It was a lie!