The Instigator
briantheliberal
Pro (for)
Winning
14 Points
The Contender
TheOncomingStorm
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Church and State should remain separate.

Do you like this debate?NoYes+1
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
briantheliberal
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/27/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,788 times Debate No: 39530
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (4)
Votes (3)

 

briantheliberal

Pro

When making laws or political decisions, the form of government in which a country is under rule plays an important role in what laws are considered "valid" or constitutional. In the United States, the form of government is ran mainly by the people in which citizens are required to vote potential candidates into office that will make political decisions that abide by constitutional law. Unfortunately, many of these candidates and elected officials use religious based propaganda in order to persuade voters into making political decisions based on their religious beliefs and use their religion to dictate legislation. However, this is in direct violation of the 1st Amendment of the United States constitution which grants ALL citizens of the U.S. the right to "freedom of religion" or the freedom to exercise the religion of their choice and laws are required to be based on secular ideologies instead of religious based ones.

However, many religious people, Conservative Fundamentalists Christians in particular, cannot seem to comprehend this, and through politics, they use their religion to take away personal freedoms from others (despite being against "big government") and use the Bible, and other forms of religious documentation to dictate legislation. The United States is not a theocracy and the Bible, Koran and Torah are NOT valid forms of documentation when determining what laws and freedoms the American people have.

Church and State must remain separate. If you disagree please start your rebuttal by explaining WHY you feel that the United States should combine politics and religion. Please base your arguments on logic and if necessary, provide evidence to support your claims.

Thank you.
TheOncomingStorm

Con

Hello, I would like to start off by saying this is a good topic for debate that I would love to take part in. First off, I feel some things need to be defined before we can start arguing so we have a more specific premise of debate. If you disagree with my definitions then feel free to post your own. I will be defining religion as a set of morals or belief system that involves a deity (god to enforce or create such beliefs). I feel philosophy should also be defined, which is, in general, a set of morals or truths or process for determining morals or truths.

First I would like to point out you're right about the 1st amendment, but what does it mean? Does it mean that religious people can't vote based on personal conviction? When it comes down to it that's the way everyone votes, but if there's a god involved then is it not okay?

Honestly, here's the truth, when a god is not involved there is no such thing as moral truth or universal morality. There's no way to put one philosophy on top of the other because there's no ultimate justice. Just as Immanuel Kant said, there must be an afterlife for justice, otherwise things we see as immoral can be left unpunished. So if there isn't an afterlife there is no passing of judgement for actions. This is important because now we are left with a lot of beliefs and no way to prove any of them are right.

What then is the best way to determine policy? The best way to do that is voting your belief and seeing which one comes out on top at the polls. If someone votes a Christian into office or a Muslim into office, then that's the decision of the body of voters. Under the representative system, this person is chosen to represent a body of people who share similar beliefs or desires as him or her. It would actually be a political atrocity for him or her to vote in a way other than his or her personal beliefs about a situation, because the people who elected him share those beliefs.

I'm going to argue under the premise that God doesn't exist. Now I argue moral relativism, which I define simply being that morality is relative to the individual. Essentially, since there is no point in anything we do, whatever one feels to be right is what's right. Therefore, the only immorality is that which you do and feel to be wrong. So if someone votes in a way they don't feel is right just because they're forced to then that is a moral atrocity.

For my final point, I would like to point out the logical contradiction in the policy. If we take away any religion, we are left with an atheist government. What's the problem with that? We are not establishing a religion, but we are establishing a belief system, which clearly contradicts the first amendment. When it comes down to moral issues, representatives and voters will have no choice but to vote within the debatable premise of atheism alone, and they will be restricted to that belief whether they like it or not. It would be a constitutional atrocity.
Debate Round No. 1
briantheliberal

Pro

Thank you for accepting my challenge.

To initiate my rebuttal, I would first like to address your statements in regards to religion and morality. You claim...

"I will be defining religion as a set of morals or belief system that involves a deity (god to enforce or create such beliefs)"

You cannot redefine what religion already is. Religion is defined to be the following...

Religion (noun) - a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

http://dictionary.reference.com...

If you want to use " belief system that involves a deity" as a basis in your argument, you must first specify which of the millions of deities in thousands of beliefs systems you are specifically arguing for. Otherwise, your claims regarding "god" and "religion" would be invalid and irrelevant.

Now that that has been clarified, I would like to address your claim...

"First I would like to point out you're right about the 1st amendment, but what does it mean? Does it mean that religious people can't vote based on personal conviction? When it comes down to it that's the way everyone votes, but if there's a god involved then is it not okay?"

What is the First Amendment?

The First Amendment was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights. It prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.

No where in the Amendment does it state that religious people are not allowed to vote based on their religious beliefs. In fact, restricting the right to vote based on personal conviction is in violation of the First Amendment and would be deemed unconstitutional. However, governmental authorities are required to remain neutral when determining laws and the First Amendment strictly prohibits the exploitation of personal religious beliefs for political control. 'The Establishment Clause prohibits the government from passing laws that will establish an official religion or preferring one religion over another.' The government is also prohibited from passing laws that infringe personal freedoms of others based on personal religious convictions.

http://www.illinoisfirstamendmentcenter.com...

You claim...

"Honestly, here's the truth, when a god is not involved there is no such thing as moral truth or universal morality."

This is inherently FALSE. Humans do not need to believe in any particular god to have moral convictions. Morals vary upon the individual, not their faith. For example, murder is strictly prohibited in many religions, but if some people believe in gods that condone human sacrifices. As a majority, most people view murder as something that should be considered "immoral" but some religions condone murder, so which one is correct?

The answer is determined by science, neurology and basic biology. Our innate determination of what is perceived as "right" and "wrong" are both influenced by society and by our brains. The frontal lobe is one of the four major divisions of the cerebral cortex. This part of the brain regulates decision making, problem solving, control of purposeful behaviors, consciousness, and emotions. Humans mainly know "right" from "wrong" of an action based on the consequences involved with said action, which could either be good, bad or neutral. Most humans who have a perfectly functioning frontal lobe know that murder without justification (such as self defense) is wrong based on the consequences associated with the action itself.

http://scitechdaily.com...

http://science.education.nih.gov...

http://www.livescience.com...

If the ideology that there is an afterlife is the only thing stopping someone from murdering others, they would be advised to seek professional help immediately. This also applies to people who claim that "god wants them to murder someone" etc... These are signs of sociopathy, not morality.

"What then is the best way to determine policy?"

The best way to determine policy, while abiding the laws established in the United States Constitution is to remain neutral on the subject. A government authority must consider...

1. How does this affect society and the people in it?
2. Who will be affected by the passing of this law and how?
3. Does this decision abide by Federal and State Constitution law?

"If someone votes a Christian into office or a Muslim into office, then that's the decision of the body of voters. Under the representative system, this person is chosen to represent a body of people who share similar beliefs or desires as him or her."

If the person elected into office is a devout religious person, they still have to abide by Constitutional law, if they cannot do that then they should not be in office. Sharing ideologies is one thing, oppressing others who do not share the same ideologies is discrimination. The LAW comes first, and their religion should remain a personal conviction not a public one. Doing otherwise is unconstitutional and is grounds for impeachment. It is not the job of elected officials to abuse political power through religious propaganda and self-promotion.

"I'm going to argue under the premise that God doesn't exist. Now I argue moral relativism, which I define simply being that morality is relative to the individual. Essentially, since there is no point in anything we do, whatever one feels to be right is what's right."

Not quite. Even if we argue under the premise that "God" does exist we must determine which out of the millions of Gods out of the thousand of religions and which of the thousands of denominations that god belongs to. Otherwise we would be in the same situation you previously described. In fact, we are already in that situation, Christians versus. Muslims, Muslims versus. Hindus, Christians versus. Jews etc...

"For my final point, I would like to point out the logical contradiction in the policy. If we take away any religion, we are left with an atheist government. What's the problem with that? We are not establishing a religion, but we are establishing a belief system, which clearly contradicts the first amendment."

The best way to regulate a religiously diverse society is to coexist and make laws that apply to a SECULAR society. The United Stated is a SECULAR society after all. Separating religion and government does not leave us with an "atheist government" nor does it contradict the first amendment. You, as a citizen, are free to practice your religion as you please but you are prohibited from establishing laws and policies that restrict others from certain rights and personal freedoms because it's against YOUR religion. In order for a government to be considered an "atheist government" there must be laws that restrict you of that right. Atheism and secularism are two different things. Also Atheism is not a belief system, because there is no specific set of beliefs that atheists follow, only a lack thereof.

I await your response.



TheOncomingStorm

Con

You mustn't wait long. I have a feeling I'm going to enjoy this debate a lot.

Well on the effort to keep within the formalities of rebuttal I shall be attacking your points and rebuilding my own.

I would like to point out your comment concerning the way "elected officials use religious based propaganda," is irrelevant to policy itself. Your quarrel should be with the politicians and voters themselves. The politicians get power because voters give them that power. It's the power of citizenship. If you have a problem with them electing a devout religious person then take it up with the voting body, but I'd imagine telling them how to vote wouldn't be looked at as constitutional.

I would also like to ask for examples for your second argument concerning oppression. None are provided so I have nothing to respond to.

Now onto my own case and your attacks thereof, I suppose I'll start at the top and go to the bottom.

I feel it's unnecessary to dispute the definition of religion since mine is a summarized version of yours. If you don't feel that true then just take this as concession of your definition.

However, I disagree with your statement, "you must first specify which of the million deities in the thousands of belief systems you are specifically arguing for." Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't use a religious argument in my first post at all. I'm not arguing for a religion or theocracy. I'm arguing the the elected ought to vote on the basis of what they believe, because that's what they were elected for.

I bear small disagreement to your response to my point on the first amendment. It's more of a disagreement on the way we should take it, not the literal wording. I won't spend time on that right now, as that will be included in my later arguments.

You claim there is a universal morality or process of determining morality. However, you've ignored part of my argument concerning purpose. If there is no purpose or ultimate positive (the world will collapse eventually due to the second law of thermodynamics), then there's no lasting point to what we do. There's no ultimate way to determine whether or not life is even good if there's no point in life anyway.

You also seem to be throwing in a personal bias when you state that morality shouldn't be made because of the fear in an afterlife. Shouldn't it be? The way I support my claim logically is that morals need to have some sort of grounding in something universally proven and something lasting. Everything in this world is dying, and nothing can be done about it. Nothing is ultimately lasting. What then is the point of morality? Morality, where God is not concerned, is created based on perception. Go ahead and tell me I'm wrong because of science and your personal convictions, but other people have different personal convictions (radical nihilism), so how do you ultimately prove who's right? Science doesn't work because the morals derived don't ultimately have a purpose. In the end, if there is no God, then it doesn't matter.

Your point about arguing about a God's existence is irrelevant, especially to you. You wouldn't want a God to exist in any scenario on your side because then theocracy is justified. Yes you have to prove which one it is, but that still undermines your entire point. However, I'm arguing under the premise that God does not exist therefore rendering any sort of universal morality pointless.

Concerning your last argument about my argument concerning the constitution, I feel it should be addressed that we have a representative government. We elect representatives from the start of our country and hold elections every two years for a majority of them. So this means that if the citizens aren't pleased with the representatives then they can be voted out. This means that the citizens are voting for these people. So why would you restrict what the citizens want? You're missing the point of my statement.

Also I would like to thank you for this statement, "There is no specific set of beliefs that atheists follow, only a lack thereof." That statement is awfully helpful to my side (see above arguments concerning moral relativism). I was however making the point in my last post that when one is an atheist there is a premise, which is that religion shouldn't be included in the decisions. Therefore the premise is forced under your standard for the elected.

In conclusion to this rebuttal:
Your statements on morality aren't justified, as they don't account for the fact that without God we and our actions have no ultimate purpose. It's contradictory to allow citizens to vote a religious man into office then say he's not allowed to vote on certain issues the way he and his body of electors believes. Finally your original points so far do not stand.

Thank you, and I'll be waiting for your response in the next round.
Debate Round No. 2
briantheliberal

Pro

"I would like to point out your comment concerning the way "elected officials use religious based propaganda," is irrelevant to policy itself. Your quarrel should be with the politicians and voters themselves. The politicians get power because voters give them that power. It's the power of citizenship. If you have a problem with them electing a devout religious person then take it up with the voting body, but I'd imagine telling them how to vote wouldn't be looked at as constitutional."

The first and main obligation of an elected official is to abide by state and federal law. Following the United States Constitution is the main job requirements of politicians, laws makers, members of congress etc because that is the foundation of law in the U.S.

While it would make more sense to blame the voters, who elected the officials in the first place, it still doesn't prevent them from doing their job while in office. Unfortunately, that is one of the many flaws of our government. U.S. citizens are free vote for the candidate who they feel best represents their religious ideologies and this is protected by law, but when in office, it is against the law to use religion to determine policy.

However, we are not discussing the voters. We are discussing those in charge, specifically those who make laws. Who voted for them is irrelevant.

"I would also like to ask for examples for your second argument concerning oppression. None are provided so I have nothing to respond to."

There are various social issues that have been debated for quite some time. More specifically laws pertaining to gay rights such as legalizing same-sex marriage, adoption rights for gay couples and anti-discrimination laws that protect LGBT individuals, abortion (pro-choice) and birth control, drug legalization (cannabis) and laws regarding stem cell research and vaccinations.

"I disagree with your statement, "you must first specify which of the million deities in the thousands of belief systems you are specifically arguing for." Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't use a religious argument in my first post at all.I'm not arguing for a religion or theocracy."

I really didn't say that you were arguing on behalf of religion but in my defense you did say "Honestly, here's the truth, when a god is not involved there is no such thing as moral truth or universal morality." which automatically led me to that conclusion.

"I bear small disagreement to your response to my point on the first amendment."

What exactly do you disagree with? Please specify. I don't really understand the context of this statement.

"You claim there is a universal morality or process of determining morality."

Not quite. Morals vary upon the individual, however, as a society, there are various ways of implementing the concept of moral universalism that applies to everyone and respects the moral views of every person living in said society. For example, the First Amendment grants freedom of religion. With the establishment of this amendment, a person who believes in Christianity is free to practice their religion without government interference. The government is not allowed to prevent that person from practicing their faith, going to church, preaching in public etc... However, in respect, that person is also not allowed to use their religion and governmental authority to make political decisions for everyone else in society, regardless of whether or not that person was elected for mainly religious reasons.

"However, you've ignored part of my argument concerning purpose."

I did not ignore that aspect of your argument. When you claim there is a "purpose" you are referring to an "afterlife" which implies that you are arguing on behalf of a "higher power", which brings me back to my original point regarding religion.

"If there is no purpose or ultimate positive (the world will collapse eventually due to the second law of thermodynamics), then there's no lasting point to what we do."

Please explain this further. Thermodynamics is the science concerned with the relations between heat and mechanical energy or work and the conversion of one into the other. This has absolutely nothing to do with the topic of the argument. I don't think you really know what thermodynamics are.

http://dictionary.reference.com...

The Second Law of Thermodynamics refers to a general principle which places constraints upon the direction of the transfer of heat and the attainable efficiencies of heat engines. What does this have to do with politics?

http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu...


"You also seem to be throwing in a personal bias when you state that morality shouldn't be made because of the fear in an afterlife. Shouldn't it be? The way I support my claim logically is that morals need to have some sort of grounding in something universally proven and something lasting."

There statement is contradicting. First you imply that believing in an afterlife is a logical basis for having morals, then you claim, by logic, morals need to be based on something universally proven. The concept of 'afterlife' is not necessarily logical nor has it been proven. This isn't "personal bias", this is FACT. Those who believe in afterlife, do so based on FAITH and that alone. Faith is not fact.

"Everything in this world is dying, and nothing can be done about it. Nothing is ultimately lasting. What then is the point of morality?"

The point of morality is to regulate a civilized society. That is pretty self-explanatory.

"Morality, where God is not concerned, is created based on perception. Go ahead and tell me I'm wrong because of science and your personal convictions, but other people have different personal convictions (radical nihilism), so how do you ultimately prove who's right?"

Again, which of the millions of gods, in the hundreds of thousands of religions and thousands of denominations are you referring to? When using "god" to determine what is and what is not "right" or "wrong" there are endless amounts of definitions and different perspectives on the subject. That's why using religion to determine the moral code of a SECULAR society like the U.S. cannot work.

"Science doesn't work because the morals derived don't ultimately have a purpose. In the end, if there is no God, then it doesn't matter."

This is where you seem to be throwing "personal bias" on the subject. Science is the only inherent way to make logical decisions that benefit society. To avoid catching disease, you rely on SCIENCE to get vaccinated. When you need to get somewhere, you use SCIENCE to provide transportation. What emotions you feel, the decisions you make and how you react to things are all determined biologically and psychologically meaning SCIENCE is responsible for explaining these things. SCIENCE is also mainly responsible for determining moral code.

Science is essential to the survival of the human species, there is only so much a "god" can do (especially when you don't even know which god is the "right" one). Every organism is fueled on the basic need to survive. Theocracy is not justified because then all scientific ideologies are DENIED and people would be forced to abide by one specific set of morals regardless of whether or not they disagree or whether or not those "morals" are harmful to others or themselves. This is not the way to run a SECULAR society. And this is why it is wrong to force people to abide by one particular set of religious views. With secularism, comes coexistence. This is the overall purpose of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and whether or not they agree, politicians must respect and abide by this law for it sets the foundation of American society.

I patiently await your response.





TheOncomingStorm

Con

Thank you for that last post, I'm going to go down your last post to attack which simultaneously will rebuild my own case.

Your first point makes a point of saying that the law restricts representatives from using their religion. I'm sorry, but I beg to differ. Here's the amendment regarding religion (I will post only the part pertaining to religion): "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

I will define establish according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary: to institute (as a law) permanently by enactment or agreement.

Therefore, so long as representatives are voting and debating (just a vote and some argumentation that doesn't infringe on anyone) instead of creating a theocracy, they're perfectly justified in exercising their religion. The point of a representative government is to represent the people. If the representatives don't represent, then they were elected in vain creating an oppressive government who allows people to elect people who want to vote the same way as them, but they're not allowed to because people that don't like religion said so.

No law has created an official religion for the nation. People may use it as part of their personal belief system when voting, but no religion has been established. We still have a secular government.

This swiftly moves into your examples. I noticed almost all of them were debate (not establishment) concerning the LGBT community, although I would disagree that this is uniquely religious. If you'd like some examples of secular arguments I can recommend a few articles. The debate concerning abortion and birth control is a scientific debate (if you disagree with me, you can challenge me to a secular debate on abortion another time). Drug legalization is a scientific and philosophical debate. Stem cell research and vaccinations are scientific debates. In the end, you're committing hasty generalizations concerning the arguments on these.

To clarify my clarification, that's the small disagreement I have with you concerning the first amendment.

I'm sorry for the confusion, but when I say "when a god is not involved" I mean to imply I'm actually debating under the premise that no god exists. It's the basis for my argument of metaethical moral relativism (considering the only universe where MMR can be true is the universe god does not exist in).

I'd like to bring up a few logical fallacies in your paragraph attempting to justify your claim on science and morality. One is a false analogy that turns into a red herring and finishes in hasty generalization. The false analogy is your comparing a scientific method of morality to the first amendment regarding religion. There's no tie without some sort of scientific connection, which you did not provide and is not obvious. The red herring comes in when you start ranting about religion in government. The hasty generalization is that people voting their beliefs at the polls oppresses everyone else.

I'm sorry, but that entire paragraph doesn't logically stand.

I think you're still missing the point regarding purpose in your next attack against my arguments. I'm saying there is no god. Go ahead and check my profile, and you'll see I'm a Christian. I'm sorry if it's throwing you off that I'm using an argument which has the prerequisite that god does not exist, but that's the argument I'm using. You might not want to debate me in that, because you don't want to argue that god exists because if god exists then denying him the control of government is rebellion against him and therefore heretical. Either way my argument stands. If there's no purpose or ultimate consequence to anything we do, then morality is strictly subject to the individual. This makes it wrong for someone to vote any way other than what they believe is right.

Regarding the second law of thermodynamics, I'd like to post something for a good understanding.

"The Second Law. Three popular formulations of this law are:

"Clausius: No process is possible, the
sole result of which is that heat is trans-
ferred from a body to a hotter one.

"Kelvin (and Planck): No process is pos-
sible, the sole result of which is that a
body is cooled and work is done.

"Carath"odory: In any neighborhood of
any state there are states that cannot
be reached from it by an adiabatic
process.

"All three formulations are supposed to lead to the entropy principle."

http://www.ams.org...

My point I this is a philosophical argument. According to the theory if entropy, all matter and energy is running down. This means eventually the world will end. That also means trying to further society into some sort of preferable humanity is illogical and pointless. Therefore a universal morality has no point. It has nothing to do with politics, it was related to my arguments concerning MMR.

Your next argument asserts that belief in an afterlife is a faith. I believe you need to be made aware of something called the law of non-contradiction. You're arguing that god and an afterlife are not fact. This only helps my point regarding MMR. You're asserting that there's no ultimate judgement for actions or that there's no universal entity creating a standard. Thank you for understanding my point, but unfortunately you've just lifted up one of my points. I feel as if you're assuming I'm arguing for the existence of a deity, which I specifically said in my first post I wasn't going to do.

"The point of morality is to regulate a civilized society." Thank you for stating the purpose of law. Morality is a judgement of right and wrong, and without a universal judge, there are only individual judges. Those individual judges perceive morality, but it is not universal.

You make more false analogies in your last argument. What does biology have to do with morality? How do chemical reactions in the brain cause morality? I think you're missing the psychology of personal experience and observation which then uses philosophy to determine morals. Science can't create morals, it can only help explain the chemical reactions that allows psychology to explain why each person has the morals they do. The point of my argument is that there is no universal morality, which then again, ties back into my MMR argument.

Now in conclusion, there's still no reason that the elected shouldn't be allowed to represent the electors precisely the way a representative system is designed to.

Thank you, and I can't wait for the next few rounds.
Debate Round No. 3
briantheliberal

Pro

"Your first point makes a point of saying that the law restricts representatives from using their religion. I'm sorry, but I beg to differ..."

I'm sorry but I think you are completely misinterpreting what the amendment is actually saying. It says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" which means Congress is prohibited from establishing any form of national religion under constitutional law. It also states that "...or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" which means, like every other U.S. citizen, elected officials are allowed to PRACTICE the religion of their choice and this is protected but they CANNOT use their political power to pass laws regarding their religious beliefs. This would be in direct violation of the First Amendment because using one particular religion to pass laws would be classified as a government action that unduly favors one religion over another. The First Amendment also prohibits the government from unduly preferring religion over non-religion, or non-religion over religion.

Please read this -

http://www.law.cornell.edu...

"Therefore, so long as representatives are voting and debating (just a vote and some argumentation that doesn't infringe on anyone) instead of creating a theocracy, they're perfectly justified in exercising their religion."

Actually they cannot. When debating the passing of new laws congress must take into consideration the reasoning behind their stance behind the law. They must also express their stance to the courts who will then decide whether of not their stance is a valid one. If the only reasoning they have in support or opposition of law is their religion, they are automatically in violation of First Amendment law, the same law they took an oath to abide by.

"The point of a representative government is to represent the people."

While this is true, it is only true to a certain extent. Elected officials have an obligation to represent the people, however they can only represent the people so long as they abide by constitutional law, if they do not, their representation is overruled.

"If the representatives don't represent, then they were elected in vain creating an oppressive government who allows people to elect people who want to vote the same way as them, but they're not allowed to because people that don't like religion said so."

Actually this is not correct. Establishing laws that ALL citizens are required to follow based on ONE particular set of religious beliefs is oppression. The majority cannot use power in numbers to overrule the rights and freedoms of people they disagree with if it does not infringe their own rights. It doesn't really matter who they voted for or why, the law is still very clear on the subject and specifically states that the United States Constitution forbids the government from establishing an official religion, but also prohibits government actions that unduly favor one religion over another. It also prohibits the government from unduly preferring religion over non-religion, or non-religion over religion. When it comes to the law, the citizens cannot abuse the power of elected officials to overrule the constitutional rights of other people. It can only be done under very specific circumstances and even then it still cannot interfere with the lives of other people.

"No law has created an official religion for the nation. People may use it as part of their personal belief system when voting, but no religion has been established."

If the government allows the establishment of religious based laws, that would no longer be considered a secular government. It doesn't matter if the religion was made national or not, if religion is used to pass a law, that is using theocratic ideologies.

"I noticed almost all of them were debate (not establishment) concerning the LGBT community, although I would disagree that this is uniquely religious."

I didn't say they were uniquely religious but many politicians and other elected officials have attempted to abuse political power by using religion as a basis for opposition. That does not work in the courts, which is why many of them have been denied. With the legalization of gay marriage in one state alone, many officials have attempted to pass bills that would prevent same sex couples from marriage, and they have all been struck down immediately because they were in direct violation of Constitutional law.

"The debate concerning abortion and birth control is a scientific debate."

The scientific debate behind legalizing abortion is already very clear.

http://www.prochoice.org...

If you would like to debate on the topic I will consider it. Although it is not within my exact area of expertise.

'Some prominent pro-life organizations include The National Right to Life Committee, Pro-Life Action League, Operation Rescue, the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, Americans United for Life, the National Association of Evangelicals, Family Research Council, Christian Coalition of America, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon Church).'

http://abortion.procon.org...

"Drug legalization is a scientific and philosophical debate."

The scientific debate behind the legalization of certain drugs is also very clear. Drugs such as cannabis, Lysergic acid diethylamide etc, have little to no long lasting negative affects in humans. Whereas drugs like alcohol and tobacco are legal yet responsible for millions of deaths annually and are linked poor functioning in the brain and long lasting damaging effects including shorter life span, and lung/liver damage. They are also a danger to others and puts innocent people in potential risk, including and especially small children.


http://www.who.int...

http://www.who.int...

The majority of American now support legalizing certain drugs, the ones that do not are a minority but mostly religious.

"Stem cell research and vaccinations are scientific debates."

The scientific debate is also very clear on this as well. However these have also been religiously disputed.

"In the end, you're committing hasty generalizations concerning the arguments on these."

I never denied that non-religious people were against these topics, nor did I ever say that ALL religious people were either. However, it doesn't change the fact that there are many religious Fundamentalists and elected officials who use religion as a primary reason for their opposition. I am not generalizing, I am merely bringing attention to one particular set of issues regarding the First Amendment.

Laws are mainly determined by their affect on society. For example, rape is illegal. Why? Because rape is a violent crime and completely dismisses the victim's right to consent. It is physically, emotionally and psychologically harmful to the victim and this is all determined through scientific analysis (cause and effect). Under no circumstance is rape legal in the U.S. and those guilty will be prosecuted under the law. Through the First Amendment, the rights of the victim come first, not the religion.

If this were the other way around, the religion would come first, for it would be the law and the right of the victim would be dismissed. This happens in many Muslim countries under Sharia law.

"You might not want to debate me in that, because you don't want to argue that god exists because if god exists then denying him the control of government is rebellion against him and therefore heretical."

This proves my point. If you are arguing on the premise that god does not exist, why is this relevant?

"You're arguing that god and an afterlife are not fact."

A fact is indisputable. The existence of these are not incapable of dispute therefore those aren't facts.

Regardless of the reason they were elected, officials must abide by Constitutional law regardless of their religious beliefs.

I await your response.



TheOncomingStorm

Con

Thank you for the response. Now shall we continue?

Onto your first point, I should address that the article you posted is a translation that is not technically included in the the first amendment. Now there is an extent where using religion for legislation is wrong, but it is not the extent you observe. I feel something necessary to this debate is actually something you used consistently through your last speech. I'll summarize it here, but it concerns points you made later in your later points.

You consistently bring up the courts. Why is this significant? It gives the perfect balance for allowing representatives to vote and argue using their personal beliefs. You're ignoring the fact that the checks and balances were put in place so there wouldn't need to be a law against such acts, you just need enough people in the minority to have a problem with them. You bring up how these laws will be stood in front of the courts and denied, and that's exactly why there shouldn't be a specific law against them. There's already a system.

I would also like to point out that you're right about representatives needing reasoning behind their stance. That's why they get elected. They're able to convince enough people to stand with them on their issues based on their reasoning. If they get up for a speech in the house and sound stupid because they quoted a religious document and no body listens to them, then where was the harm? Maybe a few minutes were wasted, but that's it. If someone provides reasoning to back their belief and people listen, then where's the harm in that? There is none.

Concerning your next point about representing within the constitution, I feel it's necessary to point out that the Constitution starts with "We the people of the United States of America." We are a government of the people, for the people and by the people. No laws are created without going through the people. It is not the constitution which first decides what laws are valid; it's the people. If you have a problem with that, well I'm sorry, but that's the way our government works.

Now, I would like to point out that when representing the people, if the representatives argue for a religion or try to establish a religious preference they get shut down. I still have not seen an example where a religion was preferred in legislation. I've seen your assertions that the religious use their religion as a shield for their stance, but these people generally use secular arguments for their reasoning. The fact that secular arguments are used means that our government is still secular even with people arguing for their personal beliefs. The mix of church and state can still happen in a secular government. In fact it's necessary, as secular is meant to be all inclusive of beliefs and not exclusive of religious beliefs.

I would also like to comment that you took my responses and moved the goalposts to another debate for arguing. I was merely stating that the arguments for each of your examples were not religious. Your debating what the stance should be on them is irrelevant.

I've also noticed that you've come around to my first round arguments, in which I stated that under the only way to judge morality without God, it's based on perception. If ones perception of a matter is religious then he is morally required to vote and act based on his perception. The only immorality that exists is the action one does against his personal view of truth. Therefore the only morality we can judge from this is that it's immoral for a representative to vote based on anything but his/her personal beliefs.

Concerning your last attack, you took my sentence complete out of context of the paragraph. I didn't say god and the afterlife are fact. In fact, I said the opposite. Your arguing me on it is therefore irrelevant. My point in that paragraph had to do with MMR, which you didn't attack in your last post.

Well that concludes my rebuttal. Thank you, and I'm sure round five will go as well as the others.
Debate Round No. 4
briantheliberal

Pro

"I should address that the article you posted is a translation that is not technically included in the the first amendment."

Actually the source that I posted is a direct, valid translation of the First Amendment itself. That is one of the many accredited sources that say the same thing. The overview is very clear on the subject and it's the same law that the Supreme Court follows. The clause forbids the government from establishing an official religion or using religious based documentation or scripture to determine legal activity. Doing so is a violation of the First Amendment and is therefore automatically deemed unconstitutional.

http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org...

http://www.uscourts.gov...

"You consistently bring up the courts. Why is this significant?"

It is important because the courts both make and enforce the law. And the over topic of debate is in regards to how the government handles the establishment of these laws and how religion should or should not be left out of the equation. There is no "perfect balance" if the representatives break the law by using religion as a determinant of their political decisions. It is completely off balance.

"You're ignoring the fact that the checks and balances were put in place so there wouldn't need to be a law against such acts, you just need enough people in the minority to have a problem with them. "

The checks and balances of power between the legislative, executive, and judicial branches safeguard our freedoms by preventing any single branch from becoming too powerful. This is noted in Articles I, II and III of the U.S. constitution but this does not have much to do with the topic we are debating.

"You bring up how these laws will be stood in front of the courts and denied..."

If using religion as a way to determine law was allowed, that is very well a possibility. The system cannot fully protect these laws from being denied or passed if the majority of Senate representatives simultaneously agree to reject it based on religious reasons, before it's even sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

"I would also like to point out that you're right about representatives needing reasoning behind their stance. That's why they get elected. They're able to convince enough people to stand with them on their issues based on their reasoning."

Yes, but are those reasons coherent with law and policy? If not then their reasoning is invalid and unconstitutional. If enough people were pro-slavery, should we just override the 13th Amendment because of it? No, because that would be unconstitutional, the same goes for religion in government as well.

"If they get up for a speech in the house and sound stupid because they quoted a religious document and no body listens to them, then where was the harm? Maybe a few minutes were wasted, but that's it. If someone provides reasoning to back their belief and people listen, then where's the harm in that? There is none."

Is there no harm? What if their belief was to propose and establish a law that banned the practice of praying in school despite the fact that personal prayer in school is protected by the First Amendment and they listened? Is this not harmful despite the fact that it clearly violates the Constitution and infringes the rights of certain group of citizens who's religious rights are protected? This is harmful.

"Concerning your next point about representing within the constitution, I feel it's necessary to point out that the Constitution starts with "We the people of the United States of America."

Yes it does. We the people. Not we the Christians of America. Not we the Muslims of America. Not we the Atheists of America. The people, meaning everyone who has every right to practice whatever religious convictions we choose without any governmental restrictions on our religious and personal freedoms.

"Now, I would like to point out that when representing the people, if the representatives argue for a religion or try to establish a religious preference they get shut down. "

This claim directly proves my point. That is what should happen. Your job as my opponent is to argue against this point, not support it. The overall purpose of my side in this debate was to argue for the topic regarding the separation of religion and government.

"I still have not seen an example where a religion was preferred in legislation."

That's because this wasn't really required in the first place. As I stated before, it's not about whether or not it has happened, I am arguing against it happening. But if you feel that whether or not it has happened is of importance I will provide examples of politicians using religion to dictate legislation.

http://www.forbes.com...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com...

http://smmercury.com...


Feel free to research more on the topic if you want.

"I've seen your assertions that the religious use their religion as a shield for their stance, but these people generally use secular arguments for their reasoning. The fact that secular arguments are used means that our government is still secular even with people arguing for their personal beliefs."

You cannot speak on the behalf of politicians who use religion for political gain. More often than not, the basis of the stance is based on religious ideologies, and they use this to appeal to the public. Regardless, of what their personal beliefs are, many of them tend to ignore secular based arguments.

For example, When asked about gay marriage, Texas governor Rick Perry stated

"The people of the state of Texas, myself included, believe marriage is between one man and one woman,” and then proceeded to go on and on about his religious faith and what the Bible says.

He then stated in an interview "Freedom of religion does not mean freedom from religion"
http://www.huffingtonpost.com...

Don't even get me started on the "Strong" video, that was pretty clear as well. And it also caused major controversy because it clearly displayed his unconstitutional, un-American attitude towards social issues. He is clearly inconsiderate of minorities and other groups and uses his political power and religious views to persuade voters and dictate legislation with no respect for the First Amendment.

That is not very secular. And he is not the only politician to have done this. Michele Bachmann, who is a representative of the U.S. House of Representatives and former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and former Republican Party nominee for Vice President Paul Ryan are also guilty of this. These are just a few of countless occurrences of politicians using religion to reject or pass laws.

I also don't recall ever ignoring or avoiding any previous arguments. However I tried my best to only address the most important points of each of your arguments. I also never said that it wasn't permissible for a person to vote based on their religious convictions, I was simply attacking the actions of the people they voted for. If I took your previous claims out of context, I apologize however you did not clarify that to me.

To conclude, there is nothing secular about passing laws restricting the rights and freedoms of others based on your personal religious convictions. No matter how one rephrases it, religion and government are meant to remain separate and this is supported by constitutional law. There is a difference between inclusivity, inclusion, diversity and religious oppression.

I await your final response and thank you for debating with me. This was quite a pleasure.
TheOncomingStorm

Con

Thank you very much for this debate, it has been enjoyable.

Now, let's finish this off, shall we?

As I stated previously in this debate, using a religion is similar to using a philosophy. The origin is different, but using it as reasoning or a starting point for your belief is not in itself wrong when considering representatives. It's a much smaller mix of church and state, but it is not denied by the constitution unless you want to add words to it.

I'm confused as to your points regarding the court. You say the government is off balance when religion is used as reasoning behind laws, but you concede that if the courts deem it unconstitutional it'll get shut down. That's the balance I was talking about, and therefore the lack of balance you state exists in fact does not exist. We ought to let people use their beliefs as representatives for the reason that it makes the environment more secular not less, and the law may be debated, and if a minority of people disagree with the majority it can be challenged by the government's own system.

My next point will concern your analogy of being pro-slavery and using religion. I would consider that a false analogy. When a representative uses his belief system as a beginning point for his belief is does not constitute the equality of oppressing a demographic. They're too completely different levels of reasoning, and one can easily be shut down by the constitution while the other may not.

Regarding your point on the majority agreeing, again I being up that the minority in a situation may still strike down oppressive bills. I would also add the Presidential veto on such bills, and then again, the Supreme Court will be hearing about such a bill as you use in your analogy.

I do apologize for the misunderstanding, but my point regarding the people creating the laws was lead through the election of representatives. For clarification, if a district elects someone religious into office because they agree with their stance, then the representative's job ought to be to represent the people not the Constitution. Elections become irrelevant if the representatives aren't allowed to represent the people.

My point regarding getting shut down when arguing for a religion was meant simply to serve a point. If you allow the degree of church and state I argue for, then there's nothing wrong with it. If someone tries to go further, then no harm was done because no one will listen to them except maybe a few friends.

Your example of Rick Perry is somewhat non-topical as each state has their own constitution aside from the national constitution. The national constitution was made solely for the dictation of the federal government, and in instances where it is specifically clarified, the states. Each state, however, has their own constitution. I don't know the Constitution of Texas by heart, but it is irrelevant to the debate.

To summarize, I'll bring back up some of the larger points.

One of them I didn't spend a lot of time on. I did bring it up, however, and it was ignored (whether intentionally or unintentionally) by you. It's my argument regarding how something which is meant to be all inclusive should work. By definition it should not exclude religions. We did not create a government that was supposed to be against using religion, but rather, it was meant to be one which included all beliefs. If not all beliefs are included, we go against what our government is designed to be.

I would also like to bring up representation. I don't believe this has been adequately attacked. As stated above, if the representative is not allowed to represent his people to the fullest, he is in violation of his duties, the Constitution, and the ideals of a representative government in itself.

There is an extent that using religion can be oppressive, but there's an extent it isn't. I touched upon this in the debate, but simply put I will use some agreed upon arguments. When religious arguments get used too much or to too great of an extent it gets shut down. There's already a fail safe for religious representatives, and in respect the their jobs, they must be allowed to use their personal beliefs to represent the people who elected them because of his personal beliefs.

Again, thank you for a great debate, and now I leave it up to the voters.
Debate Round No. 5
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by briantheliberal 3 years ago
briantheliberal
Did I say that they weren't allowed to vote based on their religious convictions? NO, I didn't. I understand the First Amendment PERFECTLY which is why I took the time to initiate this debate in the first place.

"Issues that are influenced by religious belief such as gay marriage or abortion absolutely can be influenced per the Constitution by the values and beliefs of the people."

Sorry but no, they cannot. Why ? Because it's unconstitutional for the majority to vote on the rights of a minority, especially when religion is involved. This is the type of ignorant attitude that holds the United States back from more important issues. Fundamentalists are obsessed with forcing their religion on others and using politics to take advantage of everyone's First Amendment rights, including their own. You obviously don't know what "Separation of Church and State" means and why it is important in the first place.
Posted by TrueScotsman 3 years ago
TrueScotsman
Wow, I wish I had accepted this debate. Such a flawed understanding of the 1st amendment, Christians and those of other religions have EVERY right to vote according to their conscience and bring their Christian values to the voting booths. The "separation of church and state" is to forbid the government from 1) setting up it's own church and 2) forbidding the government from respecting one church or religion over another.

Issues that are influenced by religious belief such as gay marriage or abortion absolutely can be influenced per the Constitution by the values and beliefs of the people.
Posted by briantheliberal 3 years ago
briantheliberal
"Are you certain though that the people who are voted in base everything on their religious views?"

I do not understand your question..? Obama is the President of the United States. It is his responsibility to abide by the laws of the constitution and run a secular society, not a religious one.

"Because Obama claims to be Christian but yet is doing everything contrary to his claims to being a Christian."

And what exactly would that be? What the President's religious beliefs are is irrelevant. EVERY politician's job is to run the country for the people, these people come from various religious backgrounds. The constitution comes first, their personal religious beliefs are not a priority for everyone else. If they cannot handle that responsibility, do their job and abide by the constitution, while respecting and being tolerant of the beliefs of everyone in society, they shouldn't be in office.
Posted by GodChoosesLife 3 years ago
GodChoosesLife
Are you certain though that the people who are voted in base everything on their religious views? Because Obama claims to be Christian but yet is doing everything contrary to his claims to being a Christian.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by WheezySquash8 3 years ago
WheezySquash8
briantheliberalTheOncomingStormTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro cited sources, had more convincing points, and generally better conduct. Con do well though.
Vote Placed by Skeptikitten 3 years ago
Skeptikitten
briantheliberalTheOncomingStormTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro was the only one who used sources, and they were reliable and credible ones. Spelling and grammar to Pro for better formatting and easier read-through for rebuttal. Arguments to Pro for various reasons- Con seems to not only misunderstand the very definition of church-state separation (since he keeps arguing that it can be violated in a secular government), but makes no good argument for mixing religion into politics. He goes off on unrelated tangents trying (incorrectly) to relate morality to a deity and making incorrect and off topic statements about thermodynamics. Not once did he actually defend the mingling of religion with the state properly- and Pro did an excellent job of rebutting any claims that religion was necessary for morality and reiterating that a separation was necessary to uphold religious freedom.
Vote Placed by Mikal 3 years ago
Mikal
briantheliberalTheOncomingStormTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:--Vote Checkmark3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:20 
Reasons for voting decision: I was trying to find time to read through the entire debate, but could not make it past round 3 because of work constraints. However pro had better sources throughout the entire debate and it was very noticeable. Just in sheer copious amount, and when combined with accuracy sources go to pro.