The Instigator
Imagination
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
FourTrouble
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

Is there legally a separation of Church and State in America?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/31/2012 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,318 times Debate No: 28790
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (11)
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Imagination

Pro


TOPIC
: Is there legally a separation of Church and State in America?


PRO: I will be arguing that there is a legal separation of Church and State in America. When I say "legal", I mean in law and government, as opposed to society or politics.

CON: My opponent will be expected to prove that there is in fact no "legal" separation of Church and State in America.

_____________________________________

These are the terms of conduct expected in this debate. If you do not wish to and/or do not intend to follow them please refrain from participating. Thank you.

EVIDENCE: Opinions based on faith ("It's true because I think/believe it is") will not be accepted. Both sides are expected to provide valid evidence supporting their hypotheses while legitimately responding to the other party's evidence, and furthermore, if they disagree, to produce evidence supporting their counter-argument as well. "Valid" evidence in this context is any evidence that has not or cannot be scientifically, legally, logically or empirically disproven.

SCOPE: Religion, government, and the relationship of Christianity to America are huge topics. By participating in this debate both parties agree to make an effort not to extend arguments outside of the debate topic. Arguments that do so need not be responded to in order to save time and space and keep the debate relevant. In the same vein, please let's not resort to semantics.

SOURCES: Unless you want your source ridiculed, and in an effort to keep the debate fair, please choose valid sources of information/evidence that both parties have access to. Sites such as Wikipedia that anyone can edit, and personal, subjective remarks made by bloggers / YouTube celebrities, etc., do not meet these criteria unless they draw evidence from sources that do.

COURTEOUS: Avoid swearing/name-calling please. Let's keep this mature.

_____________________________________

The debate is designed to follow this structure~

| ROUND I |
- State POV (Pro/Con)
- Agree to terms of conduct specified in this post
- DO NOT yet make arguments beyond opinion summary

| ROUND II |
- Provide summary of general arguments
- Provide evidence for general arguments
- DO NOT yet respond to opponent's arguments


| ROUND III |
- Respond to general arguments of opposing party
- Provide evidence for counter-arguments
- Free to provide fresh arguments

| ROUND IV |
- Respond to & make arguments
- Provide evidence
- Free to provide fresh arguments
- After this round, no new arguments accepted, so start wrapping it up...

| ROUND V |
- NO NEW arguments accepted
- Respond to any argument that has not previously been mutually recognized as proven to be true/false
- Don't bring back a counter-argument that both sides agree has been previously disproven
- Make closing argument / final statement
- Provide evidence
- This is the structure of the final round should a previous round be designated as such due to an unforeseen brevity in the debate.

_____________________________________

{ POINT OF VIEW }

As Pro/Yes to the topic: "Is there legally a separation of Church and State in America?" I will be arguing that there is a legal separation of Church and State in America. When I say "legal", I mean in law and government.

I believe that the Founding Fathers made clear that religion and government were to be kept apart and should not influence each other. In fact, I will be arguing that most of them were in fact anti-Catholic and anti-Christian Fundamentalism.

The previous century seems to have been surprisingly confused about this, and delusions persist to the present day. Even Supreme Court judges have claimed no such barrier exists, along with many politicians and even news commentators, who exploit the lie in order to convince viewers that because they "cannot separate their faith from their vote" they rely on the Conservative Right to make America a "Christian nation" on the legal/governmental level. I am certain that the Founding Fathers never intended America to be a Christian nation and that they created a legal separation of Church and State to ascertain this.

I look forward to an interesting debate. It'll be a relief to clear this up once and for all on my part.

FourTrouble

Con

Thanks for the debate Imagination.

I accept the terms and will argue that religion can and indeed does have an influence on the operations of the United States government.
Debate Round No. 1
Imagination

Pro

{ POINT OF VIEW }

Thank you FourTrouble for accepting the debate!


I […] will argue that religion can and indeed does have an influence on the operations of the United States government.


I agree entirely that religion and spiritual beliefs of all forms can and do have an influence on the operations of the United States government, especially the executive branch. I do not agree that any formal religion, especially a monotheistic one, should be involved in legislation, and I believe that when it is, it does so unconstitutionally. My opponent is expected to prove that there is in fact no "legal" separation of Church and State in America; contending only that religion "influences" government will only poorly contradict my views. There is a difference between the government being influenced by religion and the government acting on that influence, or even being able to do so legally. So let's begin!



{ INTERPRETATION }


The Constitution does not literally state: "There is a separation between Church and State." Nor does it literally state: "There is not a separation between Church and State." In fact, this is all it has to say on the matter:


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


I fully expect Pro to exploit the sparse condition of this legal furnishment to the fullest, so let me prepare myself by saying that, in law, what was stated literally is often not enough to cover the full range of situations and implications it intended. That is why we have the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court
interprets what the Constitution, its various Amendments, individual state laws and the Bill of Rights do not literally provide for.

The enormous importance of recognizing the implications of my point is best illustrated by a popular example: Brown v. Board of Education, the revolutionary 1954 case that ruled segragation in schools/education was unconstitutional. As Barry Goldwater intensely expressed in his controversial book first published four years later, "Conscience of a Conservative" (pgs. 21-22, 2009 edition):


The legislative history of the [Fourteenth Amendment] makes it clear […] that people of all races shall be equally entitled to [various rights]. After the passage of [the Civil Rights Act] and the Amendment, all persons, Negroes included, had a "civil" right to these protections. It is otherwise, let us note, with education. For the federal Constitution does not require the States to maintain racially mixed schools. Despite the recent holding of the Supreme Court [Brown v. Board], I am firmly convinced – not only that integrated schools are not required – but that the Constitution does not permit any interference whatsoever by the federal government in the field of education. It may be just or wise or expedient for negro children to attend the same schools as white children, but they do not have a civil right to do so which is protected by the federal constitution, or which is enforcable by the federal government. The intentions of the founding fathers in this matter are beyond any doubt. […] In effect, the Court said that what matters is not the ideas of the men who wrote the Constitution, but the Court's ideas. It was only by engrafting its own views onto the established law of the land that the Court was able to reach the decision it did.


He is undoubtedly correct in saying there is no reference to segregated education in the Constitution. But is he correct in assuming that this meant the Founding Fathers "intended" for segregated education "beyond any doubt"? Is he correct in assuming that the Supreme Court was not intended to interpret law? The Supreme Court and I say no, to Goldwater's consternation. I will argue that mingling of Church and State is illegal and unconstitutional in the same manner as segregated education is illegal and unconstitutional, which comprises three central points.


1. The Supreme Court is not only intended to reach judgments based on literally specified laws but it is also intended to interpret law;

2. The Supreme Court's interpretation of the Constitution legally trumps purely literal readings of the Constitution; and

3. The intentions of the Founding Fathers can only be clear legally by what they stated, not by what they did not state.


That said, my focus will be a lot LESS on producing government documents that explicitly state a separation between Church and State; rather, the majority of my arguments will state that the Supreme Court legally recognizes a separation between Church and State; and that this makes separation between Church and State legal and constitutional in America, and its opposite illegal and unconstitutional.



{ CASE I: EVERSON V. BOARD OF EDUCATION OF EWING TOWNSHIP (1947) }

In this case, the township of Ewing, New Jersey, made a law requiring the community to pay for bus fares transporting children to school. Among these schools was a Catholic one located in a local church parish. Some parents believed that it was unconstitutional for Ewing to force them to pay for bus fares for children attending the Catholic school to be transported there and appealed to the First Amendment. The Supreme Court ruled in their favor.

In the words of Justice Black:


The "establishment of religion" clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance. No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa. In the words of [Thomas] Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect "a wall of separation between Church and State".


A complete summary of the case and Justice Black's comments can be found here: http://law2.umkc.edu...

There are more cases building on this, but due to character limit I will refrain from bringing them up. Rather, I will form my second argument around the intentions of the Founding Fathers, and the words of Thomas Jefferson Justice Black alluded to.



{ INTENTIONS OF THE FOUNDING FATHERS }


The Supreme Court does not make laws out of the blue. But when the Constitution is silent, their closest secondary source of justice is the men who wrote it. Surely by matching the intentions of the Founding Fathers, the Supreme Court's decisions will uphold the tenets of the Constitution.

If I am to support Justice Black's interpretation of the Constitution, I must show evidence to support his interpretation of Thomas Jefferson's words. For the record, NONE of the Founding Fathers ever said: "There is NO wall between Church and State", but one of them most certainly said, "There IS a wall between Church and State".

The full letter in which he makes this assertion can be read here: http://www.loc.gov...;

There are those, however, who argue that his sentiments in the letter were insincere. While I disagree, I find this questioning of what politicians purport privately to be a valid course of action. To prove that the Founding Fathers actually intended for such a wall in law, I produce the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (http://www.encyclopediavirginia.org...) and the Bill for Religious Freedom (http://religiousfreedom.lib.virginia.edu...).

I await my opponent's response.


FourTrouble

Con

Thanks to Imagination for a thought-provoking case. Per the terms of the debate, I will refrain from addressing Pro's arguments until Round III.

--

The separation of church and state, typically associated with the words of Jefferson and Madison, does not appear in the Constitution or in the debates surrounding its adoption. Indeed, in Wallace v. Jaffree (1985), Justice William Rehnquist called the "wall of separation" a "metaphor based on bad history, a metaphor which has proved useless as a guide to judging" and "should be frankly and explicitly abandoned." [1] The historical record confirms Rehnquist's point.

The First Congress appointed chaplains. Presidents Washington, Adams, and Madison issued Thanksgiving proclamations. Congress subsidized missionary work among the Indians. Even Jefferson signed a treaty agreeing to build a church and supply a Catholic priest in exchange for tribal lands. In fact, Congress continued to support religious education on Indian reservations until 1898. Furthermore, following the adoption of the First Amendment, all but two states had religious qualifications for holding public office, and blasphemy was commonly a crime (in Vermont it was even a capital offense). [2]

In fact, Tocqueville described the United States of the early nineteenth century as more religious than any other nation: "America is still the place where the Christian religion has kept the greatest real power over men's souls, and nothing better demonstrates how useful and natural it is to man, since the country where it has now the widest sway is also the most enlightened and freest." [3] History makes it very clear that in effect disestablishment, prohibiting the establishment of religion, did not separate church and state, as religion was and has never been relegated solely to the private sphere.

Today, it is common to think of the establishment of religion as meaning some form of theocracy, a political system in which religious institutions and religious leaders control the state, as they do in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This view, however, is terribly misleading and mistaken. In the establishment of religion known to the Framers (the "Church by Law Established" in Britain), the state controlled the church and used the church to increase its political and governmental power over the people. The Act of Supremacy made the King the head of the Church of England, thereby making the church submissive to the state. [4]

The original purpose of disestablishment, as such, was to give churches independence from government, not the other way around. This is an important historical point, as it reveals the true intention behind the Religious Clauses: freedom, exemplified for example through the protection of the church from the state. It should not come as a surprise that the leading voices for disestablishment were the populist and evangelical offspring of the Great Awakening. It was paramount, for them, that the church neither be controlled nor used by the authorities of the state.

This does not mean, however, that the Framers wanted a strict separation between church and state. The First Amendment was not supposed to constitute a step toward a secular state. On the contrary, it was the liberation of the church from the control of the state. The Constitution, as such, does not make the role of religion in the public sphere any less important, nor does it relegate religion solely to the private sphere. Rather, the Constitution enhances the political power of the church by freeing it from government control. This is where the accommodation principle, as opposed to the separation principle, comes into play. The idea here is that the government must accommodate religion by giving religious institutions exemptions from the law (this is why churches, to this day, are not taxed).

The separation doctrine clearly conflicts with the principle of accommodation. The primary intention of the Framers was to affirm religious liberty, and the separation of church and state can diminish religious liberty. This happens, for example, when a government law or policy conflicts with the demands placed on a citizen by his/her religion. The correct interpretation of the First Amendment, one that affirms the principle of religious liberty, is the accommodation doctrine. The separation thesis must be rejected, as such, because the freedom of religion from the state conflicts with the strict separation of church and state.

--

The separation doctrine was not brought to bear on legal issues until around 75 years ago in Everson v. Board of Education. Prior to this, the wall of separation metaphor had been exclusive to the writings of Madison and Jefferson and never directly applied to the law. As Pro noted, Justice Black does in fact seem to affirm the separation thesis when he said that the state cannot "pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another," but Black immediately breached the wall of separation when he held that it was constitutional for New Jersey to reimburse parents for money spent to transport their children to Catholic schools.

Everson, in effect and intention, provides justification for supplying money to a religious institution. Black's sleight-of-hand thereby replaces the establishment clause issue at stake in the case with the issue of equal treatment to both religious and non-religious constituencies. Everson, the first case to mention the separation of church and state, thus paves the way for further breaches of the wall of separation: it allowed for government aid to be given to religious institutions as long as it is also given to non-religious institutions.

And that is what happened, as the government took part in supplying books, paying teachers, erecting buildings, funding tuition, sponsoring proselytizing student magazines, floating of municipal bonds, and a host of other benefits that flowed to religious organizations. In the realm of public education alone, the separation of church and state has been rendered completely null in Widmar v. Vincent (1981), Rosenberger v. University of Virginia (1995), Mitchell v. Helms (2000), and Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (2002). As Justice Souter put it in Zelman: "The establishment clause," and with it the doctrine of separation as it was affirmed by Jefferson and Madison, "has largely been read away." [5]

This does not mean that anyone is arguing for establishing a state church. But the idea that the church and state are completely separate has been completely dismantled. With the pledge of allegiance (and the words "under God" in particular), citizens of the United States are even compelled to make religious affirmations. Whatever the case, it is clear that the prevalence of religious practices and religiously-influenced practices in our government and laws makes the separation of church and state historically and politically indefensible.

There is also another line of cases, from Sherbert v. Verner (1963) and Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972) to Hosanna-Tabor v. E.E.O.C. (2012), that extend free exercise protection to religious institutions and religiously-inspired actions, even if those same actions, things like pulling your children out of school, would not be allowed if performed for non-religious reasons. The Supreme Court has clearly demonstrated that law and public policy bend to religious obligations. This point alone proves that the separation of church and state is thus an inaccurate representation of law today, and an inaccurate interpretation of the Constitution according to the Supreme Court.

[1] http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com...
[2] http://scholarship.law.wm.edu...
[3] Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America
[4] http://www.britainexpress.com...
[5] http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com...
Debate Round No. 2
Imagination

Pro

Thank you Con for an interesting debate!


{ I: THE NEUTRALITY POLICY }


Con's points in Round II revolve around a recent approach America's courts have taken towards the "Establishment clause" known as the "neutrality policy". As such my 1947 case was out of touch with modern developments. However, Con and I disagree on whether the neutrality policy "eliminates" or even disregards the barrier between Church and State.

The neutrality policy means that the State recognizes the separation between Church and State; but in rulings maintains a neutral and unbiased treatment of both to prevent the unfair persecution of religious organizations.

When I say treatment, I mean consideration of rights they possess. Con is correct in detailing how, after the 1947 decision, courts feared that religious organizations would be persecuted by the State by lacking the same rights as secular organizations.

Some decisions the courts made to the present date in favor of religious organizations to maintain their equal rights do impinge on the separation of Church and State – but many more support it, including a third of the cases Con named, as if they support there being no separation between Church and State, which the majority of them patently do not. I think we can agree that, legally:

1. A Judge's comments are vastly inferior to the ruling reached by the entire court, unless the Judge's comments surround the reason that ruling was reached, and;
2. The US Supreme Court's ruling/s trump the ruling/s of all other American courts.

That is, if a regional court decides today that segregated education is constitutional, the ruling is disregarded in favor of the Supreme Court's prior ruling that it is not. If the defendant quotes a dissenting argument from the minority in Brown v. Board, no one will care.

Applying this policy to the slew of quotes and listed cases in Con's arguments narrows down their legal priority. Taking a closer look at the rulings of Con's cases and not just the minority's dissent statements shifts the modern Supreme Court's interpretation of the establishment clause markedly in my favor.

Wallace v. Jaffree (1985)

Inevitably, this case would come up – I just didn't expect it to come up on Con's side. In this case, a parent in Mobile County, Alabama, complained that a state law, namely Section 16-1-20.1, allowed for an abuse of his children's First Amendment rights. The law allowed teachers to set aside one minute every morning for "meditation or voluntary prayer". The parent complained that teachers at a local secular public school led the children in Christian prayer, even though some students in the class, including the parent's, were not Christian; and that failure to partake in the "voluntary" activity resulted in his children's ostracism. More importantly, he felt that religious observances in school were a form of unconstitutional indoctrination. The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in his favor.

The Court here adopted the neutrality policy – which DOES NOT mean that they disregarded the separation between Church and State! The Court stated:

One of the well-established criteria for determining the constitutionality of a statute under the Establishment Clause is that the statute must have a secular legislative purpose. The First Amendment requires that a statute must be invalidated if it is entirely motivated by a purpose to advance religion.

This obviously recognizes the barrier. What makes this case interesting and exceptional is that the Court's employment of the neutrality policy was actually detrimental to the state, which claimed there was no separation between Church and State, as nicely expressed here.

The State's endorsement, by enactment of 16-1-20.1, of prayer activities at the beginning of each schoolday is not consistent with the established principle that the government must pursue a course of complete neutrality toward religion.

The Alabama government is not a religious organization. Thus, it must be secular.

When Con lists other cases, the key to understanding the Court's ruling is recognizing that in these cases, the secular rights of religious organizations were being respected, NOT the religious rights of secular or religious organizations. Why?

It is unconstitutional for the government to grant anyone religious rights or allow anyone to withhold secular rights from someone for religious reasons.

A secular right might be the freedom of speech or protection from unreasonable search and seizure; a religious right would be allowing teachers to set aside a period of prayer.

The oft-quoted Judge Rehnquist represented the Court's minority opinion in this case, the opinion that did not voice itself in the Court's official ruling, and thus has no legal bearing on similar cases in the future. I'm sure Barry Goldwater keeps the acerbic quotes of Supreme Court Judges dissenting the Brown v. Board decision close at hand – that doesn't make segregated education any less illegal and unconstitutional. The majority of Con's arguments fall short because:

1. They are based off a minority opinion which is irrelevant to the ruling; and/or
2. They support the neutrality policy, but NOT the disregard of the separation between Church and State.

The neutrality policy is NOT neutral towards the constitutionality of the barrier. Instead, the extent of the barrier is applied equally to both the religious and secular side, without limiting the rights of either side. The neutrality policy recognizes and uses the barrier and deems it constitutional, contrary to Con's claims. "Accomodation policy" is when the State rules in favor of secular rights for religious organizations. It is in no way the opposite of the "separation policy" that Con presents it to be.

When Rehnquist made his dissent complaint, he was not employing the neutrality policy. Rather, as he was representing the government yet wished to rule in favor of religious rights, he was disregarding the barrier between Church and State and thus violating the neutrality policy.

All of the Cases Con listed upheld the neutrality policy by my definition. All of Con's quotes were voiced by the dissenting minority.

Clearly Con's arguments, while certainly exhaustively researched and persuasively voiced, are misguided and do not accurately represent the modern position of the Supreme Court. I will have many more characters in the next round to devote to this counter-argument, but for now I need to use the ones I have left for my second point.


{ II: HISTORY }


Con's references to America's early history are numerous but not very relevant to the debate. What courts ruled 200 years ago, and state laws that were clearly unconstitutional but remained unchallenged for decades, are simply not reflective of the modern acceptance and respect of the separation between Church and State.

For instance, ALL of the Founding Fathers owned slaves. In fact, some of them went so far as to father slaves. 200 years ago, there were all kinds of laws justifying and endorsing slavery. Then the Civil War came along, but even after the Civil Rights Act and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, it took nearly a CENTURY for the post-War Jim Crow and segregation laws to be officially declared unconstitutional and nullified.

That until the late 1800s, blasphemy was a capital offense in Vermont, the last state to dispel legislation originally established while still a colony of England, is an interesting fact. It is also totally irrelevant to this debate. The fact that Congress continued to support religious education on Indian reservations until 1898 is as irrelevant to discerning whether the separation of Church and State is constitutional as the fact that Congress continued to support segregated education until 1954 is irrelevant to discerning whether segregation is constitutional. That Tocqueville, a Frenchman, felt America (then a slave nation) was Christian 180 ya is irrelevant.

Laws change. And to date they have changed in favor of my position.
FourTrouble

Con

I don't have a lot of time so let me get right to it.

Pro states: "Some decisions the courts made to the present date in favor of religious organizations to maintain their equal rights do impinge on the separation of Church and State." If voters take Pro at his word, then I have already won this debate. For how can Pro claim there is a legal separation of church and state when multiple Supreme Court decisions, by Pro's own admission, impinge on the separation of church and state?

Neutrality Policy

Pro admits that supplying religion with public tax money is legal as long as similar aid is also given to non-religion. As a government policy, this breaches the wall of separation because it coerces non-believers to support religion through tax-raised funds.

A majority of the Supreme Court agreed, in Mitchell v. Helms (2000), that the principle of neutrality is not sufficient to satisfy the Establishment Clause. [1]

Dissenting Opinions

Dissents are not any less creditable and worthy of citation than majority opinions. They provide insightful commentary on the law by Supreme Court Justices.

Moreover, dissenting opinions are often prophetic signs of where the law is moving. For example, modern first amendment doctrine was forged in dissents written by Brandeis and Holmes. Later their position became the majority position.

Accommodation Principle

In Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972), the Supreme Court held that Amish children did not have to go to school past 8th grade. This is an example of accommodation. It gave Amish people an exemption from the law on the basis of their religion.

Hosanna-Tabor v. E.E.O.C. (2012) is the most recent example of the accommodation principle at work. The Court ruled unanimously that federal discrimination laws do not apply to the selection of religious leaders by religious organizations. This case affirms the principle that people have the right to perform actions that the state has deemed illegal as long as those actions are done for religious reasons.

The accommodation principle, which has been upheld by the Supreme Court as recently as this past year, demonstrates that the law must bend to religious obligations. And if the law must bend to religious obligations, then the separation of church and state cannot survive. The moment that the Court recognizes that religious laws trump state laws (as it has on numerous occasions), the separation of church and state collapses. The laws of the state bend to the laws of religion, and this clearly creates an entanglement between the state and religion.

History

The historical facts I brought up make an important point about the intention of the First Amendment. They are not irrelevant, as Pro claims. The purpose of the Religion Clauses was to protect religion from the state, not the other way around. This is very important point because it demonstrates that the intention of the Founding Fathers was not to create a separation between church and state, but rather, to make sure religious liberty was guaranteed. The problem with the separation doctrine is that it does not always protect religious liberties.

[1] http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com...
Debate Round No. 3
Imagination

Pro

Thank you Con for an exciting debate! =)


{ TRIPOLI }


If voters take Pro at his word, then I have already won this debate.

Um. You cut off half my sentence. It was an awkwardly worded sentence, yes, but Con mistook my usage of the word "impinge". I was using it according to first usage, which is "negatively affect", not the second, which is "encroach". I admit I was not aware it had other connotations. I do believe this explanation is well supported by the fact that I dedicated the rest of that round to trying to prove my case against the idea that the Supreme Court disregards the separation between Church and State.

Have they by modern standards breached the separation of Church and State in the past? Perhaps. That's not what I'm resisting here. The less recent Supreme Court decisions are irrelevant compared to recent decisions on the same matter. Again, segregation was not officially unconstitutional until the Court ruled it so in the '50s; that doesn't mean it was constitutional until then! I'm arguing separation of Church and State exists *now*, and that its opposite is unconstitutional *now*.

This leads nicely into my refutation of Con's claims that the Establishment clause exists PURELY to protect the Church from the State. In Round 2 he says the Founding Fathers took issue with the King of England's manipulation of the Church. Well of course, but not only because the Church was being manipulated. They took issue because the Church was being used as a political tool. They didn't JUST believe that State had no business in Church – they felt that Church had no business in State, either.

Con's insistence that historical references such as the opinions of 19th century Frenchmen about the Christian-ness of a slave nation are relevant to this debate puzzle me, especially as I've already provided abundant evidence that the Founding Fathers actually believed in a *literal wall* between Church and State. As far as the "Founding Fathers' intentions" go, Con ought to provide quotes from them, as opposed to the French 50 years later. I recommend he cast a look at the Treaty of Tripoli, 1796 – 1806 (http://www.stephenjaygould.org...).

Here's the Constitution declaring the Treaty of Tripoli a document of equal validity:


"This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding."



And here's Article 11 of the Treaty:



"As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; […] no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."


Looks like Tocqueville may not have been as familiar with the Constitution as its authors. Not surprising if you think about it long enough.

And the "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance was added later. The Founding Fathers had never put it in in the first place. It's still a controversial part of the Pledge and speaking it is not obligatory, in school or otherwise. (http://www.nytimes.com...)


{ Wallace vs. Jaffree }


Pro admits that supplying religion with public tax money is legal as long as similar aid is also given to non-religion. As a government policy, this breaches the wall of separation because it coerces non-believers to support religion through tax-raised funds.

*sigh* No. Supplying religious organizations with the secular right of government funding is fair. Imagine if no faith-based organization could ever get funding. That could lead to faith-based organizations pretending to be secular in order to HELP people. There are many religious charity organizations supported by the government. There is nothing whatsoever about this that violates the neutrality policy and the recognition of the separation between Church and State. Allow me to repeat the definition as I gave last round.

It is unconstitutional for the government to grant anyone religious rights or allow anyone to withhold secular rights from someone for religious reasons.

However, it is the government's JOB to grant secular rights to all organizations, regardless of properties such as an organization being faith-based. Not granting secular rights to religious organizations would discriminate against religious organizations and thus be unconstitutional, and violate the neutrality policy.

I also object to Con's incorrect usage of the word "religion" as opposed to "religious organization". The government does not give support to ANY "religion", but faith-based organizations performing secular activities may receive government funding. In Wallace vs. Jaffree, the Christian "school" was classes on the Bible that actually took place in a Christian church. That is not a secular activity, as opposed to the education provided by the secular schools of the community.


{ DISSENTING OPINIONS }


Modern first amendment doctrine was forged in dissents written by Brandeis and Holmes. Later their position became the majority position.

Con has not backed up this highly controversial statement with any proof. I spent the entire last round offering arguments to disprove it. The modern majority position being in favor of the separation of Church and State is the whole resolution. Con cannot state otherwise without proof for such a claim to be valid.


{ Wisconsin vs. Yoder }


Again. The Supreme Court WAS NOT disregarding the separation of Church and State just because they acted in the interest of home-schooling. Lawyer Jay M. Feinman, in "Law 101", praised as an "indispensable portrait of our nation's legal system", illustrates my point abundantly:


In Employment Division vs. Smith (1990), […] Court held that "generally applicable, religion-neutral laws that have the effect of burdening a particular religious practice need not be justified by a compelling governmental interest" – even if the law has the incidental effect of burdening a particular religious practice. […] In Smith, drug rehabilitation counselors who were fired because they used peyote in a religious ceremony were not entitled to state uneployment benefits because they violated a rule that was neutral as to religion […].

Under Sherbert [vs. Verner], [Court] upheld the requirement that an Amish employer participate in the Social Security system despite religious objections, refused to grant an orthodox Jewish officer and exemption to the Air Force's ban on wearing non-uniiform clothing, including a yarmulke, and upheld the provision of the tax laws that denies tax-exempt status to schools that discriminate on the basis of race, even if the discrimination is religiously motivated. […]

[In] the singular case of Wisconsin vs. Yoder (1972) […] the Court held that Wisconsin could not require Amish parents to send their children to school beyond the 8th grade in violation of their religious beliefs. The Court later characterized this decision as resting not only on the free exercise clause but also on the expanded right of privacy […]. The state's compelling interest was in assuring the development of adolescents as citizens and members of society, but the combination of formal schooling through the 8th grade and the training Amish children received at home and in their community was deemed to satisfy the state's interests.


Note that Smith is a lot more recent.


{ "RELIGIOUS LAWS"? }

The moment that the Court recognizes that religious laws trump state laws (as it has on numerous occasions)

I really have no idea where this came from. According to the First Amendment, Congress can't even make religious laws. Con has provided no proof at all for these "numerous occasions".

FourTrouble

Con

FourTrouble forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
Imagination

Pro

Imagination forfeited this round.
FourTrouble

Con

FourTrouble forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Imagination 4 years ago
Imagination
@Oxymoron, Since I disagree with you on that count, I have no idea, but you're welcome to try :)

About other comments. I'll let the debate speak for itself and wait until I am challenged by a Con before presenting my case comprehensively. As such I won't be responding further to mini-challenges in the comments section.
Posted by malcolmxy 4 years ago
malcolmxy
The "no law respecting the establishment of a religion" is meant for the religion. It means that the government can't have any rules that restrict anyone from establishing a religion.

It helps to read these things in context.
Posted by Oxymoron 4 years ago
Oxymoron
@Imagination,

Would I win this debate if I could prove that Separation of Church and State and the First Amendment, originally, was intended to prohibit the Federal government, while allowing the States to establish their own state religion?
Posted by Chuz-Life 4 years ago
Chuz-Life
CORRECTION: "There is of course a legal and Constitutional wall between Church and State in the U.S. However, the barrier was to keep the Government out of the business of running the Churches (i.e. the Church of England which was pretty much an arm of our government prior to the Revolutionary War). The separations clause of the first Amendment was NOT written with the intent of preventing the people from expressing their personal religious views either with their votes, candidate choices or even concerns over policies.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
Posted by Chuz-Life 4 years ago
Chuz-Life
There is of course a legal and Constitutional wall between Church and State in the U.S. However, the barrier was to keep the Government out of the business of running the Churches (i.e. the Church of England which was pretty much an arm of our government prior to the Revolutionary War). The separations clause of the first Amendment was written with the intent of people from expressing their personal religious either with their votes, candidate choices or even concerns over policies.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
Posted by AlwaysMoreThanYou 4 years ago
AlwaysMoreThanYou
@malcolmxy

I long for the day that the Pope regains the temporal power he rightfully should wield as successor to the chair of St. Peter. Long live the Papal State.
Posted by Imagination 4 years ago
Imagination
I don't have time or space for a sub-debate in the Comments section, so this will be my last response to malcolmxy. I narrowed it down to the last statement, which I felt summarized the other points well enough.

"[1] Separation of church and state is not a right or condition guaranteed in any fundamental law document. [2] The Unitarian Church, for instance, because of its all inclusive nature, could be the official state religion without violating the constitution in any way."

1. Try the First Amendment and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom.

2. Phrases in fundamental law and government documents including the Constitution such as "Be it enacted by General Assembly that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship" and "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" are just two examples why that would NOT be possible: Unitarianism is by definition Christian theology; thus, making it a state religion would most certainly expect people to support religious worship. I'm out of character space so I won't look up the quotes but there have also been many court cases that confirmed the separation interpretation. At the Philadelphia Convention in 1787, Federalists refused to sign the Constitution unless it would allow for separation of Church and State because they despised the oppressive religious rule of the British king.

About the statistics"" I looked them up and came to a different conclusion. Personally I find a Gallup poll isn't as accurate as the 2012 US Census Bureau.
http://www.census.gov...
Gallup made 320,000 interviews in all its years of activity for its "90%+ of Americans are religious" annual statistics, which is 0.1% of America's population. Consider also that the Census Bureau only asked adults, while Gallup may have interviewed both adults and children, who would tend to shift statistics about how many Americans believe in Santa Claus in a similar
Posted by malcolmxy 4 years ago
malcolmxy
1. It's on our money. The money is printed privately, but it is guaranteed by the government.

2. And, turns out their influence was low, but what about Christian groups being promised federal judges sympathetic to their pro-life cause?

3. For some, but you wanna see a 1-term president? watch them take the affirmation instead of the oath and then see me in 5 years,

4. Said as part of EVERY State of the Union.

5. Who do you think makes the laws? Politicians. Mitt Romney is Mormon. JFK was Catholic. It mattered in the election.

6. Really? If that's the case, I'd like to separate from the state. I gotta be a church? Cool...worship me.

7. 70% of Americans believe in God (I think it's more, but I don't feel like looking it up right now). It's a massive majority.

Separation of church and state is not a right or condition guaranteed in any fundamental law document. The Unitarian Church, for instance, because of its all inclusive nature, could be the official state religion without violating the constitution in any way.
Posted by Imagination 4 years ago
Imagination
For 3, when I said optional, I was referring to the so help you God part"
Posted by Imagination 4 years ago
Imagination
1. Added post-Constitution to political context, a proverb not related to law/government

2. Part of Bush's executive office -- discontinued after his term was completed, and not confirmed by the Senate, if he felt like it he could've made a subsection of his executive office dedicated to food lovers or whites, the religious element here does not interfere with law/government and is thus irrelevant

3. Optional

4. Added post-Constitution to political context, a proverb not related to law/government

5. Politics, not law, and according to the Constitution his religion should not influence his government performance, so unless he acts unconstitutionally, his Mormonism is unrelated to government as well

6. Which is the very exemplification of the barrier between Church and State"

7. """European equivalents of the PotUS (PM, Reichskanzler, etc.), among others"

8. Give me the statistics and then we'll talk.

Sounds like you'd make a good Con.
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