The Instigator
aremisasling
Pro (for)
Losing
37 Points
The Contender
Tatarize
Con (against)
Winning
46 Points

If all faiths are given the chance, public displays of faith are constitutionally acceptable.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/16/2007 Category: Religion
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,169 times Debate No: 529
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
Votes (21)

 

aremisasling

Pro

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

It is the basis for the Separation of Church and State in the United States. While it does not expressly prohibit the separation of the whole of the state from religious practice (only congress), that is the way it has been interpreted as long as it has been a debate. What it prohibits is the recognition of a national religion as well as government bans on any religion.

I argue, however, that it does not expressly prohibit religious displays on public property so long as all faiths are elligible to do the same. By opening it to all religions as well as atheism, it finds a comfortable middle ground that neither specially recognizes nor prohibits the display of any particular faith.

As a matter of side-stepping any assumptions, I feel it necessary to mention that I am a neo-pagan, and not a Christian. Not that it makes my argument any more valid, simply that I don't want this to be a discussion on any particular religion, but on religions as a whole. Without stating it, the assumption may be that I am christian and that I am arguing for the manger scene or the ten commandments, which I am not.
Tatarize

Con

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

The establishment clause of the first amendment does not say that Congress shall make law such that it respects all establishment of religions equally. It says that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. Pluralism doesn't fix this problem. These are still "displays of faith" and it is the duty of the United States government to treat all people equally, myself included. I am an atheist. I have no faith. I can make no display of faith. I can make a display certainly, but not a display of faith. And that's the rub. If the government offers a public space to first-come to put up a display they are perfectly permitted to do that. However, if they ask for a "display of faith" they have stepped over the line.

As for your claim that the SoCS doesn't expressly prohibit the states from such action, there is certainly an argument to be made there. In fact, Justice Thomas has expressed an affinity for the argument that if a state wanted to declare a state religion that the first amendment wouldn't prohibit that the law refer only to congress. However, outside of crazy arguments the 14th amendment to the constitution holds the constitution applies to the states and such argument cannot stand.

The constitution does not expressly or implicitly prohibit religious displays on public property. It simply cannot judge them as a subcategory. For example, if the government offers a space to be reserved to people meeting certain criteria (usually no profanity, proper insurance, nothing dangerous) to put up a display on public property they can no more suggest that a church take this space than a book club, free-thought group, or even a company to plaster it with ads. It isn't that you need to offer the space to simply ever faith you need to offer the space to all groups and individuals without any consideration if they are religious or not.

You seem to be under the mistaken impression that opening a space for a "public display of faith" to atheists is a coherent notion; it isn't. This careful middleground approach is inherently a religious approach. You are quite clearly trying to suggest a way in which offering it to all religions makes it somehow not religious. Should areas be available to everybody by reservation, certainly, they are public property and should be available to the public. However you can't simply offer this to the religious public, you need to offer it to the entire public.

Secondly, let me note a quick a secondary problem with this argument. It doesn't work in practice. For example, such an offer was taken up by the AAI (an atheist group) to put up a display called "Tree of Knowledge" including books and other such items. Although permitted, a number of people made a very big deal out of it. People argued that although they believed in free speech that atheists shouldn't have the temerity to express such a right. Another display in a different area was put up by a local Wiccan group was destroyed as somebody ran it over during the night. Being inclusive is often a rallying cry to privilege Christianity. You can offer the space to all faiths, and you'll just get a couple church displays and verbal, physical, and destructive abuse to anybody else who tries to take you up on the offer.

In short, you can't, as the government, ask for "displays of faith". When governments do do this, they really mean 'displays of Christian faith' and in practice that is what they get. Allowing groups to make a display in a public place is fine, allow that group and those displays to be religious is fine. Asking if somebody wants to put up a display of faith in the three weeks before Christmas and oh, other faiths can put up displays but we'll destroy them and yell at you if you do, is not allowed by the establishment clause. There's a line, and this suggestion is still on the wrong side.
Debate Round No. 1
aremisasling

Pro

I see that the topic wasn't entirely clear. I'm not arguing for the exculsion of non-faith based displays though I can see my wording was poorly chosen in that regard. I am actually arguing that religious symbols being included in that mix is not expressly unconstitutional. I don't see how you got that I was somehow suggesting anyone directly solicit religious displays, which was definately not my intent. I wouldn't want any city hall coming out and saying 'place your religious symbols here' either.

I do agree that on a practical basis it hasn't gone very well. I read about the pentacle that was backed over. But this year has also seen a display in Green Bay, WI that, while controversial, includes several religious groups, a Festivus pole (not expressly atheist, but it certainly is inclusive thereof) and has an expression of intent to post a display arguing against the hyper-commercialism of the holidays (I'm not sure how that will be accomplished, but more power to them). The jury is still out on whether or not it will work, but if it can be made to work, I don't see why it shouldn't be allowed to.

I had reservations on the atheist thing, by the way, but in a debate in the pagan world over getting the pentacle recognized as a symbol of faith on military tombstones it was pointed out that at least one symbol of atheism had been allowed. I'm not sure what symbol that was, and it certainly isn't any kind of widespread thing, but it does exist, so I felt it appropriate to mention.

I'm not sure if the debate is worth continuing in its current form at this point.

Aremis
Tatarize

Con

Well, excluding religious symbols would perhaps qualify as prohibiting the free expression of religion. Moreso if it's on public property which allows for displays.

Yeah, that tombstone crap was a complete and utter bit of pathetic nonsense (the atheist community was pretty annoyed with it too). If you want to use tax payer's dollars to add a religious symbol to things you don't get to pick and choose which religions are allowed, they should let you have anything you want etched there. The American Atheists' A was allowed, after all, but pentagrams "oh noes!" -- now they are getting put up and getting defaced.

Pluralism is just a way of saying all religions are equal, and some religions are just a bit more equal than others.

-- Due to awkward wording, I win!

(Watch, I still will get voted down...)

I may be an atheist... but he's a witch! Vote for me, I don't believe you have a soul. Have you considered the possibility that you have blighted your whole life with fantasy and are polluting the minds of defenseless children with dangerous nonsense? If not, ask me how you can do so.
Debate Round No. 2
aremisasling

Pro

I fear for the future of humanity if I concede defeat in an argument and I still win. Not that I don't already fear for the future of humanity, I would simply have more justification for my paranoia.

And of course you shouldn't believe me. We've only just gotten enough people to hate us to get labelled as satanic cult leaders. I'm holding out for baby-eaters, personally. You aren't truly despised until someone says you eat babies. Neither are in any way true, but hey, you gotta strive for something in life.

Eh, I figured I might have a crummy outcome or two before I really got settled into this site. Having read some of your other debates, I'm glad to have conceded to you.

Good luck and merry debating!
Tatarize

Con

Yeah. The EAC (Evil Atheist Conspiracy) eats babies. Or they would if they existed.

You should take a look at my "Once Saved Always Saved" debate and tell me that people can't lose a debate and still get a ton of votes.

I bet I could debate you on Wicca and each time it was my debate turn I could say "He's a witch!" -- and win.
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Kleptin 9 years ago
Kleptin
Turned this into a tie!
Posted by la_bella_vita 9 years ago
la_bella_vita
hahahaha.
after reading other debates and comments from both of you on this site and coming to the conclusion that you both are a couple of the best debaters i've seen so far, i feel the need to tie it up again.
Posted by aremisasling 9 years ago
aremisasling
We're tied?!?!?!??! I'm disappointed, yet somehow amused.

Aremis
Posted by Mdal 9 years ago
Mdal
I actually laughed out loud after reading both of your debate...It was slightly embarrassing for me because my dorm mates had to come and see what the heck was so darn hilarious.

Oh and my vote tied it up for Tatarize...so aremisasling you don't need to fear humanity completely (though the fact that it is so close might be a little worrying).

-Mdal
21 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by Tatarize 7 years ago
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Vote Placed by Logical-Master 8 years ago
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Vote Placed by redinbluestate 9 years ago
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