Maggie Gallagher

Even Rudy Giuliani, no slouch in the pugnacity department, and who (according to New York media stories) is himself facing the very real likelihood of being refused communion at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City, had the good sense and the grace to say, when asked to comment, "I do not get into debates with the pope. That is not a good idea."

The truth is these amateur Washington theologians have it exactly backward. Separation of church and state does not mean elected officials get to tell religious leaders to whom they must give religious sacraments, on pain of public excommunication from "the American experiment."

You want to know what "separation of church and state" means on this issue? Consult a Mormon venture capitalist. At the first GOP debate earlier this month, Chris Matthews asked former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney what he says to Roman Catholic bishops who withhold communion from Catholic politicians, and whether they are "interfering with public life?"

Romney shot back: "I don't say anything to Roman Catholic bishops. They can do whatever the heck they want. Roman Catholic bishops are in a private institution, a religion ... I can't imagine a government telling a church who can have communion in their church. We have separation of church and state, and it's served us well."

Amen to that.

Maggie Gallagher

Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.