The Instigator
Scott_Mann
Con (against)
Losing
22 Points
The Contender
omelet
Pro (for)
Winning
25 Points

God should be a considerable factor in acts of legislation in the US

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/3/2010 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,502 times Debate No: 10636
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (37)
Votes (10)

 

Scott_Mann

Con

The issue in the debate stresses the issue of Church and Fed separation in the United States, the moral and legal obligation to follow this doctrine.

In my argument, I explain how God should not be a considerable factor in legislation consideration, but instead, personal morals and values.

I start my opening argument by defining words, after which I will discuss how it is a moral obligation to follow the doctrine. Lastly, I will elaborate on how it should be presented as a legal obligation to follow the doctrine.

The doctrine- Should be referenced in the debate as, the doctrine which states that the Church and Fed should be in separation, and not have God be a part of consideration in certain legislative acts. This doctrine does not relate to having God or religion included in American vows or pledges.

Theocracy- rule by God or, in an extended sense, by God's Law and/or God's agents. (http://www.jcu.edu...)

Democracy- the political orientation of those who favor government by the people or by their elected representatives (http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu...)

Due Process Clause- Applied due process to the federal in the 5th amendment and to the states in the 14th (interpreted so as to include all amendments)

I conclude my definitive terms. I will now begin to discuss why it is immoral to include God in consideration of legislative acts.

In a representative democracy, we rule solely by majority. However, I speak of this while including that we are strictly a democracy, and not a theocracy. While we as Americans live in a Christian democracy, the problem of faith will come as an issue when it comes to the question of how the country is legislated. The Christian majority should not be relevant in this respect, for faith is a personal issue. As a majority, we are not the one and only religion in the United States. In the United States, we coexist with a mixture of different religions and creeds. Americans will always hold beliefs that are not held by the majority, these faiths being, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, pagan faiths, or even no faith at all. In a country with so many ideas of a God or lack thereof, we cannot possibly come up with a single, final idea on how something should be legislated.

I provide, to the debate, an example on the issue of gay marriage. The anti-gay marriage argument includes that we need to ban it in order to preserve the traditional definition of marriage. These ideas are a known claim to what is today known as the "religious Right." It is commonly interpreted that the Bible states an opposition to gay marriage/relationships, such as Leviticus 18:22: "Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin." (This quote has been rephrased by many different Bibles, but still appears to have the same message.)
To an atheist, who does not go by any holy text, would not make a judgment on gay marriage based on this quote. I remind my opponent that we are debating the issue on God being used to consider legislation, not on the gay marriage issue itself.

I will now discuss why it should be presented as a legal obligation for governments to follow the doctrine.

It is practically a legal obligation for American governments to follow the doctrine. I will add to the debate, a second example. Hypothetically, if we truly should be going by God's word in terms of what we are and are not allowed to do in a representative democracy, then we as Americans should be forced by law to go to Church every Sunday. This cannot be justified, as this would be in violation of the First Amendment. If Muslims, Jews, and atheists are forced to attend religious service every Sunday, then the United States would not be fulfilling its Constitutional duties. However, if we truly should be going by word of God in the United States, then required participation in religious services would be given much support from those on the side of my opponent. The First Amendment must apply to all governments of the US, in accordance with the Due Process Clause.

I wish much luck to my opponent in giving his or her response, and I thank them for their shared interest in this topic.
omelet

Pro

I'll break it down into sections.

===THE RESOLUTION

The resolution here has the same problem as my opponent's definition of theocracy. It is invalid if a god does not exist, and it assumes that religious institutions on earth are a product of a god. Rather, my opponent has been arguing that religious teachings should not play a considerable role in legislation in the US. Whether or not those religious teachings are the work of some god is irrelevant and cannot be determined.

Also note that it is not my burden to argue in favor of theocracy. Religious teachings need not be the sole factor in legislation for me to be right; they need only be one considerable factor.

===DEFINITIONS

Considerable: Significant, Notable. Worth consideration. [1][2]

===CONTENTIONS [REBUTTALS INCLUDED]

I. "Democracy"

My opponent argues in favor of a democracy, and he argues against the false opposition of a theocracy. I am not arguing in favor of a theocracy. In fact, whereas my opponent has thrown his support in for democracy, I will do the same. I am not arguing against democracy. My opponent is the one arguing against democracy, claiming that some people's views shouldn't count for anything based merely on where these views originate. That's not how a democracy works. In a democracy, the political views of the people decide the law, whether those political views were taught by a religion, taught by parents, discovered individually, influenced by peers, or whatever. The source of a political view does not matter in a democracy - only the political view itself.

Ia. "Political views vs. personal views"

My opponent has made the claim that religious beliefs are personal, and should therefore not affect one's political views. This is utterly false. For instance, many religions teach that humans gain valuable souls the instant they are conceived. Many religious people use this belief as the basis for being pro-life or being against embryonic stem cell research. As they well should if that is where their religious convictions point them. These people should NOT be saying "well, I think abortion is a supreme injustice, but I'm not going to advocate against it politically because hey, that's just a personal belief." Expecting that is ignorant and unrealistic.

II. "Impossibility to enforce CON's Position"

CON expects that we ignore people's political beliefs when they are the result of religious teachings, but this is impossible to enforce. For instance, there are pro-lifers who are pro-life for secular reasons. There is currently no system in place that could discriminate between the pro-lifer who has secular reasons and he who has religious reasons. If such a system were put in place, it would fail anyway. Those who have religious belief as the basis for their political positions would simply act as if their religion was not the reason for their political opinion. As evidence for this, I will point out that it happens already in the status quo. People who are politically active know that "the bible says X" isn't going to win them any support, and will always fail in a debate. So for instance, those against gay marriage will instead use secular reasoning to back up their position (claims like "gay couples are less effective at raising children" or "accepting gay marriage would lead to harmful population stagnation"). It becomes impossible to determine whether the person truly has these reasons for their position or if their position is based on religion and they are simply masquerading.

III. "Considerable"

The amount of people who base political beliefs off religious teachings is considerable in the US. The religious right in America, which bases many political views on religious teachings, is one of the largest political voting blocs around. They have the right to advocate political beliefs they hold, just as much as anyone whose beliefs are secular. Thus, the religious effect on legislation in America should be considerable.

IV. RE: Gay Marriage

My opponent's example of gay marriage is misleading. If anti-gay marriage views should be discounted,
it is due to humans rights issues and not due to the fact that religious teachings were the basis for that view.

V. "Legal Obligation"

The first amendment does not say that religious teachings can have no effect on legislation, only that legislation cannot favor certain religions more than others. For instance, if someone believes that killing is wrong simply because it says so in the bible, that's fine to legislate - but if someone says that killing Christians is not okay but killing anyone else is okay, that's not legitimate legislation. Laws may not be made about religions, but they may be made based on religious teachings.

Clarification will be provided next round if necessary.

[1] http://www.askoxford.com...
[2] http://www.merriam-webster.com...
Debate Round No. 1
Scott_Mann

Con

First I would like to thank my opponent for his participation in this debate.

I will present my argument by rebutting my opponent's contentions.

I. "Democracy"

My opponent is arguing that I am against democracy. This, is not, in any way true. My case stresses the importance of enforcing the doctrine, which states that the Church and Fed should be in separation, for both moral and legal obligations. However, I stand for a democracy that does not withhold any members of the democracy from piloting their own lives and beliefs. If political views stem from what is taught by a religious group, then we would eventually lead to a theocracy, which would incinerate democracy from within itself.

Ia. "Political views vs. personal views"

As I have stated previously, taking one's religious views and putting them toward legislation would not make democracy. This especially applies to legislation which involves restricting people from what may be seen as immoral by certain religious groups. For example, the issue of what defines a human is a scientific view that is different, depending on the person. If the US were to push legislation which would bar women from obtaining an abortion, then this would imply that a fetus is, indeed, a child with the same legal protection of that of a fully-developed human. Barring women from being able to obtain a legal abortion would imply that there is only one correct view of when life begins, which would be putting personal views over another. This would not be right. Abortion is legal in the United States. This lets the woman to choose when life begins, if terminating a pregnancy would be moral or immoral, how this would conflict with her faith, etc. Political views based on religious teachings should not be advocated against politically because of how there may be clear, legitimate scientific beliefs which result in seeing the law as invalid. If abortion is banned over beliefs stemmed from God, then this would not allow personal choice over one's morals or faiths.

II. "Impossibility to enforce CON's Position"

In certain circumstances, such as public school prayer, it can appear as obvious that it is a tool of the religious right or otherwise to indoctrinate the Christian God into the minds of all children of all creeds. It would be highly unlikely that a member of another faith, or lack of faith, would advocate for required prayer praising the Christian God in the public school system. On the issue of gay marriage, my opponent fails to see what I am arguing. I was not defending gay marriage or implying that it automatically needs to be legal just because the only rebuttal for the arguments stem from religion. Whether or not we can tell if a person is legislating on religious reasons is irrelevant, however, religious reasons are invalid. Because there are, indeed, reasons for other than religious to oppose gay marriage, it is very possible for someone to hold anti-gay beliefs regardless of faith. Even those with no faith in God can have legitimate reasons to oppose gay marriage. However, the issue is if it would be moral to use God in consideration. Quite simply, opposing gay marriage solely based on faith would be immoral, and for the US to maintain the ban solely for these reasons would lead to theocracy.

III. "Considerable"

As I have previously stated, if we were to allow religion play factors in considerable acts of legislation, then democracy would be destroyed from within. Simply, if democracy leans toward religious beliefs, then it can soon be forgotten about, and theocracy will become a trend for countries such as the United States; if one things legislated through religious views, then so will many other issues.

V. "Legal Obligation"

It would be quite unreasonable to legislate against killing solely because "God wouldn't want us to do that." Even those with no faith have their morals, and the lack of belief in a God would not necessarily permit a person's morals into believing in murder. However, the doctrine that was thought of by our Founding Fathers strictly implies that religion should not be used to create laws. If it is clear, intentional, or publicly stated that Congress passed a certain bill to push forward views on God, then this would violate the doctrine.
omelet

Pro

I. "Democracy"

My opponent reaffirms that he is against "political views stem[ming] from what is taught by a religious group." He claims that a true democracy does not value people's political views that happen to stem from their religious beliefs. This is patently false. Because it is relevant here, I will go straight into my response on point V.

V. "Legal Obligation"

My opponent claims that "the doctrine that was thought of by our Founding Fathers strictly implies that religion should not be used to create laws." He is incorrect here. Allow me to quote the first amendment:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."

Note that this is a statement about the CONTENT of a law, NOT about the source of a law. Religious teaching may be used to arrive at legislation, but that legislation MAY NOT favor one religion over another. Allow me to restate the example I brought up in round one. If lawmakers were influenced by their religion and decided that killing people is illegal, that would be fine. Why? Because that law does not favor any religion over another. People are all treated the same under that law, regardless of their religion.
However, if lawmakers decided "killing a christian is illegal, but killing anyone else is okay," even if religious beliefs were not the motive for this law, that law would go against the first amendment.Why? Because it favors one religion over another.

Ia. "Political views vs. personal views"

My opponent has made a very flimsy argument here. He argues that since the issue of abortion is subjective, we shouldn't make any law about it and people should just decide for themselves. False. That's the prime purpose of a democracy: to decide how to legislate subjective issues based on the will of the people - regardless of what might have influenced the people's will.

But on the issue of abortion and when life becomes valuable enough to protect it via law, what do you think made it so that it was illegal to kill infants? Largely, Christianity. Infanticide was not illegal in almost any ancient cultures. Christianity was the biggest factor in criminalizing the abandonment of unwanted children. Are there also secular arguments that could have been made in favor of preserving the lives of infants? Yes.

I'd like to point out that my opponent's position is literally telling people who deeply care about certain issues such as abortion, "Sorry, your opinion on this issue doesn't matter, since your religion has influenced your position. Only those whose religion has not affected their stance on this issue matter." There are few things more preposterous.

II. "Impossibility to Enforce"

My opponent brings up public school prayer. School-led prayer violates the first amendment, since it favors certain religions over others. That's why it should not be allowed, not because it happens to have sprung from minds influenced by religious teachings.

On the issue of gay marriage, my opponent has proven my point. He points out that there's really no way to tell if someone is against gay marriage for religious reasons or for secular reasons. Then how are we to implement a system that ignores the people for whom religion formed their position, yet counts those who formed their positions secularly?

Or wait, is my opponent arguing that the religious should simply ADMIT that their reasoning is invalid for affecting policy? If that's the case, I will still have to strongly disagree. These people are often fervent about the ideas they support. It is not right, if you believe that gay marriage is a supreme universal injustice, to willingly allow it to happen when a political process exists that will allow you to prevent it. Do I agree with these people? No. Do I think gay marriage should be allowed? Yes. And I, like my opponents on the issue, am free to participate in the democratic process to get my views legislated.

III. "Considerable"

This point was only to make it clear that if religious reasoning was a valid basis for legislation, as I've argued, that it would fulfill the resolution's requirement of being a "considerable" factor. My opponent does not seem to have disagreed, though he has asserted that my position leads to theocracy.

It does not. My position does not allow for the democratic process to be destroyed. It does not allow for religious people to legislate their ideas even if the majority disagrees with those ideas. Nor does it even allow a majority to make laws that favor certain religions over others. It is rule by majority with protections in place to prevent abuse. It is a stable democratic system; it is not theocracy.
Debate Round No. 2
Scott_Mann

Con

V. "Legal Obligation"

The Founding Fathers would have intended to have a "wall of separation" between the Church and State. Thus, while we maintain a democracy, religion is not, in any way, intended to inspire law. In order to fully maintain the doctrine, it should be immoral, and in certain cases, unlawful, for lawmakers to ever consider God. Murder is popularly agreed on to be immoral by people of different creeds, and thus, would not justify as legislation inspired by any God.

Ia. "Political views vs. personal views"

My opponent had used a very open-ended example on the issue of abortion. Legislating against abortion would soon lead into a debate which incorporates religion into the argument, this being, at the question of when life begins. I am simply implying that this example does not work in this argument, as personal scientific views play a role in the abortion debate; if Congress were to legislate against abortion, the country would face the possibility of being "wrong" about the scientific debate of abortion.

My opponent has proven my point on the debate with the issue of infanticide. Considering how religious the US was back in the 20th century, pro-life laws were very likely to pass. The abortion issue played a bigger role in politics as the years went on up until 1973, in which a Supreme Court case came up which would let people choose when life begins and how their God would think of it for themselves.

I would like to point out that my opponent has presented a large misconception of my rebuttal. In my arguments, I am trying to prove how holding political views stemming solely from religion would be immoral. Acts of Congress inspired solely by views of God's wishes violate the doctrine. Do I believe in the legality of abortion? Yes. I am simply implying how we should have more views on arguments other than religion.

II. "Impossibility to Enforce"

School prayer has become somewhat of an issue in modern day politics, and has vocal supporters. Like other arguments on other issues, support for public school prayer was thought up by the religious right. Being unconstitutional, it proves how we cannot and should not allow religion to play a role in lawmaking.

While we may not be able to establish a system that will completely prevent laws stemming from religion, I am implying how it would be immoral to use religion to hold a political position against gay marriage. Do I believe these people should admit if their views stem from religion? Personally, yes, as it will help the people judge if how much or how little religion truly plays a role in lawmaking. Personally, I believe in a fair democratic process with zero bias stemming from religion. I am very aware that there is no true way to completely end religious bias in political positions, contrary to what my opponent seems to believe. I remind my opponent that, while I believe in preventing some of the bias within legal means, I am also defending the morality of the issue and the doctrine.

III. "Considerable"

My opponent does not seem to fully understand what I was implying. The concern of religion playing a role in lawmaking is that it can lead to bigger and stricter laws stemmed from religion. A law can be introduced to appear to have no religious bias, however, newer ideas can be introduced, and the bias will build continuously. If the US continues to have laws introduced which stem from religion, then the sake of having a democracy will slowly be forgotten about, and the thing that will destroy democracy, may as well be democracy itself. Simply, if we use democracy as an excuse to pass certain laws, then we may as well have no democracy at all. The concern is that a theocracy will build up to dominate law, unless we maintain the doctrine.

==CLOSING STATEMENTS==

The purpose of my argument in this debate was to defend democracy, while at the same time, explain how it is essential to prevent a theocracy from forming within the democracy. I am stressing how it should be immoral, and whenever possible, unlawful to rule solely by religious views. In order to respect all religious views and creeds, we as a county must think religion-neutral. If Congress were to ever pass a law of what ever content, proudly and openly for only the sake of pleasing some type of a God, the law would be illegitimate to enforce. Instead, we as a country must use our own personal values and morals when it comes to legislation. (i.e., no killing) I, at the same time, acknowledge how it is impossible to completely prevent religious bias, yet support prevention if it laws nearing religious values should ever become an issue. We must be mindful of other creeds to maintain a free nation.

I urge the readers of this debate to vote Con, because I have proved how democracy should be maintained, while at the same time, regard fairness towards all religions. I thank my opponent for this thought-provoking debate, and I conclude my final argument.
omelet

Pro

V. "Legal Obligation"

I must once again point out that my opponent has failed to understand what sort of separation is implied by the first amendment. It does not mean that individuals are required to ignore their own political beliefs and not seek legislation like everyone else can when those beliefs happen to have been instilled mainly by their religion. The separation between church and state is instead meant to prevent the state from adopting a religion, and to stop the state from enacting laws that inherently favor members of one religion over another. State-sponsored prayer is an example of this, as is the example I gave of a law legalizing murder against everyone except Christians.

Ia. "Political vs. Personal"

Allow me to restate my argument from last round.
Of course there is a debate about when a human life deserves the protections of law against being killed. Some would say it's at conception. Some would say it's at a specific developmental stage during pregnancy. Some would say it's at birth. Some would say it's after birth, even a few years. This is why I brought up the infanticide argument. It used to be legal to kill newborn children, or even children a few years old. Those ancient laws weren't objectively wrong, but most people today would say that they were subjectively wrong. And that's precisely what a democracy is supposed to do - find the majority opinion on what should be legal and legislate that majority opinion. It doesn't matter where that opinion came from, and it doesn't matter that that opinion happens to be subjective (like all opinions).

What does matter, as I've stated, is what that opinion happens to be. While the issue of what conditions we use to bestow people with legal protections is a valid issue for us to legislate, it would not be valid for us to, say, reinstate slavery. Slavery is unconstitutional on its own right. It would also not be valid for us to decide on a state religion, or make any law that treats certain religions differently from others. That's also unconstitutional. But there are a myriad of legitimate political topics that religious views can influence, and it is neither fair nor reasonable to expect people to not pursue legislation on their political views simply because those views happen to have stemmed from religious belief.

My opponent says that he is arguing that "holding political views stemming solely from religion would be immoral," but most political views are not solely due to religion - it is merely a considerable factor. This is inherent in the fact that we're talking about secular politics. While the abortion issue has strong arguments based on religion, it also has many arguments on both sides that have nothing to do with religion.

II. "Impossibility to enforce"

School prayer is unconstitutional, and I've already explained why. This is why it can be prevented by law.

My opponent says it would be immoral to hold a position against, for instance, gay marriage, simply because of religious teaching. I must disagree, as I have in previous rounds. Some religious people literally believe that gay marriage is an injustice toward their god, and some even believe that allowing gay marriage would bring our country bad fortune. Given these views, it would be immoral for such a person NOT to try legislating against it when there is a system in place to do so.

A fair democratic process counts everyone's opinions. It does not selectively ignore those opinions that have been influenced by religious thinking. It allows all opinions, no matter the source. As I've said though, there are strict limits on what things may be legislated and what may not - so even a majority opinion that public schools should raise children to be good Christians would not be a valid law. But when the issue is not unconstitutional, it is up to the opinions of the masses to determine the law.

III. "Considerable"

My opponent claims that a slippery slope into theocracy is possible. It's not, due to the strict guidelines of what is valid to legislate. The country will continuously morph depending on the views held by the public at large. If those laws happen to have been influenced by the public's religion, so be it.

==CLOSING STATEMENTS==
It doesn't matter where we get our beliefs from. No source is objectively good. Getting political views from mommy and daddy is no objectively better than getting them from the bible or from a priest. It is for individuals to decide what political views they wish to hold, drawing from whatever sources they wish. And if they truly care about the issue, it is immoral for them not to participate in the democratic process in favor of their ideals. My opponent's position is not fair to all religions, it is unfair to all religions. It favors nonreligious institutions over religious ones. This is not only unconstitutional, it's also unfair, despite my opponent's misconceptions.

Vote PRO; I've affirmed the resolution.
Debate Round No. 3
37 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by mightymisfit 6 years ago
mightymisfit
oh please, when god comes and sits his big butt down in a senate meeting then we shall see, why would he even care about our stupid politics, hes GOD
Posted by Yraelz 6 years ago
Yraelz
Depends on what amendment you're talking about.... many of them don't affect the state level. Some that originally didn't have been interpreted by the supreme court to now do so. However the federal government very seldom exercises mandates over the states. When the federal government wants something done it threatens to withdraw highway funds.
Posted by Scott_Mann 6 years ago
Scott_Mann
Voted pretty much the same as omelet, only with certain obvious changes. >_>

Good debate.

Now, regarding how the Constitution applies to all parts of the country, the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. It goes above all state laws. It is incorporated into all parts of the country for pretty obvious reasons, and if state governments do not go strictly by it, then technically they are not acknowledging the fact that they are part of the Union. And think of it this way: does the Supreme Court of the United States make their final decisions state constitutions, or do they justify their rulings with the Constitution of the United States? SCOTUS is only proof that we must incorporate every last law into every state and city (with very LITTLE exceptions, maybe regarding town ordinances) that comes from the Constitution. States' rights will never apply to the supreme law of the country, and what goes on in a federal level will always be more powerful.
Posted by omelet 6 years ago
omelet
VOTE
Conduct: TIE
S/G: TIE
Arguments: PRO
Sources: TIE

REASON FOR DECISION
Neither of us had particularly bad conduct.
Neither of us had particularly bad spelling or grammar.
I was more swayed by my own argument (big surprise, eh?).
Neither of us used sources to any large effect.

Good debate, Scott.
Posted by omelet 6 years ago
omelet
Sorry for almost missing the deadline for my last argument. Not used to taking debates with 24-hour limits on rounds.
Posted by Yraelz 6 years ago
Yraelz
The constitution does not apply to the state level unless specifically noted in said amendment of the constitution.

That being said, Mongeese, the 14th amendment has been interpreted, through it's due process clause, as applying to the states. This process is termed INCORPORATION and you can read all about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org...(Bill_of_Rights). This interpretation is of course done by the supreme court making it legally binding.

And as far as this argument about the 14th amendment never being properly ratified goes...... Oh well? It's considered law now, and I think one would have to go through a great deal of trouble to get it reversed.
Posted by lsiberian 6 years ago
lsiberian
How does one limit God from being a considerable factor? If God does exist is it wise to not exclude his consultation?
Posted by Scott_Mann 6 years ago
Scott_Mann
*sweat*
Posted by Scott_Mann 6 years ago
Scott_Mann
The Constitution is intended to apply to all US governments, be it on a federal level or local level. We as a nation go by the Constitution, and I certainly don't recall hearing anything about clauses such as states' rights or anything else excusing states from complying with amendments.
Posted by mongeese 6 years ago
mongeese
The issue here, Nags, is the liscencing of solicitation. Therefore, illegalizing liscencing of solicitation would be like illegalizing driver's liscences.

I see nothing in the 14th Amendment that extends the Bill of Rights anywhere.
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Vote Placed by ricky78 6 years ago
ricky78
Scott_MannomeletTied
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