The Instigator
lgjosh089
Pro (for)
Losing
12 Points
The Contender
beem0r
Con (against)
Winning
43 Points

Religion should not influence laws and policies enacted by the government.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/3/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 5,242 times Debate No: 1334
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (9)
Votes (19)

 

lgjosh089

Pro

Okay. I took history, and understand our country was founded by religious people. However, our country was also founded on many different concrete ideals. One of which is freedom of religion. One could affirm, that having such a freedom entitled to us would entitle us to not have a religion at all. Our country is also supposed to be FOR the people. How can our government be fair and equal if the laws and policies governing all of its people are based on the religious beliefs of a select group of people?
beem0r

Con

Religion should be able to influence laws and policies of government. Not only should it be able to, it should. Not only should it, it does.

Before presenting my argument, I'll go over my opponent's argument real quick.

My opponent brings up freedom of religion as a 'concrete ideal' on which our country was founded. Aside from the fact that ideals are by definition not concrete, I think I still get what he was trying to say. Overall, I don't have too big of a problem with that, and I'll definitely get back to it later.

He also brings up that such freedom also entails that we should be able to have no religion at all. Once again, this is true.

Lastly, my opponent argues that government is supposed to be for the people as a whole, rather than for one specific group of people and their beliefs. I would also go ahead and agree with this.

As may be obvious to some readers already, I have agreed or accepted all my opponent's opening points. However, I do not think they sufficiently make his case. In fact, I think they do the opposite, and I'll tell you why.

Now for my case for why Religion should influence laws and policies enacted by the government:

I. Freedom of religion
As you yourself have noted, freedom of religion is a very important aspect in America. however, this in itself is a policy that it influenced by religion. Were religion nonexistent, I think we can all be sure that freedom of religion would not be. It cannot therefore be said that religion does not influence this policy. Also, freedom of religion is explicitly written into the constitution. Whether this makes it a law or not is debatable, but it is surely a policy. Unless I misread your first post, you admit that we should have the freedom of religion, so you therefore have admitted that we need at least 1 policy that is influenced by religion.

Though I have more examples of needed laws and/or policies that are influenced by religion, I notice that this debate is 4 rounds. I'll save the rest of my cards for rounds 2 and 3, and let you rebut my first point and/or add more of your own before continuing.
Debate Round No. 1
lgjosh089

Pro

Alright, I will concede to you that Freedom Of Religion is based on religion, so it technically has influenced a policy. However, that is really a technicality, and lends no weight to the argument that we should continue to allow certain religions to influence laws that an entire country must abide by.

Lets say that I'm an ultra-right Conservative Catholic. A belief of catholicism is that abortion, along with all other forms of birth control, are a sin. While other forms of birth control are generally accepted by much of America, abortion is still a heated topic that is an issue of national importance. However, being that the only reason that catholics don't believe in abortion is that their Bible and/or church establishment tells them not to. What would give them the right to impose that value upon someone else who holds views that are the exact opposite of theirs?

What about homosexuality? That is a lifestyle for many people in our country, and many religious organizations denounce it, calling it a sin. Some radicals even believe that the war in Iraq and the terrorist attacks on the WTC were caused by "god's" anger with America's tolerance of homosexuals. What tolerance? Gay people do not carry the same rights you or I would have in a heterosexual relationship. What gives those religious sects the right to tell me that what I think is wrong? I don't believe in their god, so I have no reason to abide by his rules.

How can it be right for these people to subject the public, many of whom do not share their beliefs, to unfair and unjust laws, that would astound our country's founding fathers. How can it be okay for these people to go against our constitution and not allow certain people the rights they deserve because their religion doesn't authorize a certain behavior?
beem0r

Con

My opponent concedes that my first point was valid, while somewhat a technicality. I'll therefore not bring it up again until recapping in round 4.

First I shall respond to my opponent:

My opponent first brought up the the dilemma of allowing people's stances to generate legislation when the stance was influenced by religion. I will bring this up later in my round 2 post, within point II.

Then my opponent brought up anti-gay legislation. Anti-gay legislation has no place in America. It's almost necessary to invoke bigotry to justify anti-gay laws whether the reasons for them are religious or not. Bigotry is not something that should be used in lawmaking. At least I don't think so. I'm fairly certain the constitution agrees with me, as well as most people. It's a shame that there are anti-gay laws around. But in the same way that oppression of blacks would be wrong whether there was religion involved or not, it is not because of religion that anti-gay laws are bad. It is because they are hateful and have no legitimate backing - only bigotry.

Next my opponent asks how it can be right to subject people to unfair laws who don't agree about said laws. It's not right, but the reason for it being wrong would be the unfair part, not the fact that religion may have been an influence on the lawmakers.

That's it for the points my opponent made, so I'll go into my second point.

II. Religion affecting valid stances
Catholicism teaches that abortion is wrong. The reasoning, in Catholicism, is that from the moment of conception, a person is just as valuable as a developed human. God has at this point already made the person in their entirety. Therefore killing them would be just like killing a fully developed person. This may not make sense from your viewpoint, but consider the following ways to value life (or anything, for that matter):

A> For its past
B> For what it currently is
C> For what it is likely to become (for its entire hypothetical future)
D> For its entire hypothetical lifespan (A+B+C or A+C, depending on view)

The last two means that I listed both would value a fetus that would eventually become a fully-developed human as just important as an already fully-developed human. These stances do not require any religious views, and are in and of themselves valid viewpoints. It is quite possible, and quite often, that someone would come to these stances without religion.

However, you are stating that we should not respect the views when religion is the reason behind them. Consider this:
Yesterday morning, you were okay with abortion
Yesterday night, I told you some weird ghost story that ended up changing your outlook on the issue. You were then against abortion.

Should your hypothetical view matter more than that of a religious person? If so, please tell me why. 'The fact that it's a religion' doesn't matter any more than 'the fact that it's a ghost story' or 'the fact that it's how person X was raised.' The reason for the stance does not matter. If the stance has its own justifiable reasons, it's fair game to use it in politics regardless of what influences there were.

So, as long as it's
Religion ->which changes/influences-> Valid Stance ->which affects-> Policy or Law
It's completely fine for religion to influence policies and laws. Just like it's fine for the ghost story or a person's upbringing to influence policy or law.

And since that's getting long enough as it is and we still have two more rounds, I'll let you respond to that and/or bring up more points of your own before posting any more points.
Debate Round No. 2
lgjosh089

Pro

lgjosh089 forfeited this round.
beem0r

Con

My opponent accepted my first point, though he called it a technicality.
My opponent did not rebut my second point.
And now, ladies and gents, I give you a third point:

III. Actions based on religious belief
Alright, we might not all agree that Muslim Extremists flew planes into the twin towers. For the sake of argument, though, please assume that they did.
These actions were largely based on their religion - enough so that they wouldn not have done them without it.
There were policies put into affect due to this event, such as requiring increased security at airports. I'm not sure if the government made said policy, but they should have been able to, since it would be an issue of safety for the citizenry.
The actions of the extremists were influenced by their religion, the policies put into affect were influenced by those actions. Therefore, Religion influenced the policies. I see no reason it shouldn't have, in this case, either.

Hope to see you back for closing statements.
Cheers.
Debate Round No. 3
lgjosh089

Pro

lgjosh089 forfeited this round.
beem0r

Con

My opponent has forfeited another round, so I'll just reiterate my points.

1. Freedom of speech
This in itself is a policy influenced by religion. Without religion, it would not exist. Pro called this point a technicality, but conceded it.

2. Valid stances
If a religion affects a valid stance (one with secular backing), that stance should be allowed to affect policies and laws just as much as a stance influenced by anything else. The example I brought up was the abortion issue. Pro-life is a valid stance, and we should respect that stance regardless of if religion was among the various influences. And to the extent that people's stances affect laws and policies, these stances should be allowed to as well. Here, religion influences a stance, which in turn influences policies and laws.

3. Actions prompting policies
It's quite possible for a religion to do something which prompts policies to be made. My example was Muslim fundamentalists flying planes into the twin towers - from this, policy enforcing higher security in airports was enacted, and rightly so. Religion in this case influences the actions of its followers, which then influence policies and laws.

My opponent has not rebutted my last two points, and he accepted my first. I therefore declare myself WinRAR.
Debate Round No. 4
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by deluvit 9 years ago
deluvit
I completely agree with alexthemoderate.

Throughout history people have been running things by religious belief and it has failed. What makes you think that today it would be any different. As society changes so does religion. It shouldnt effect public policy or the way we manage foreign relations.

We're a diverse society and we should respect that.
Posted by beem0r 9 years ago
beem0r
No big. It happens to the best of us.
Posted by alexthemoderate 9 years ago
alexthemoderate
I guess I read wrong. It happens. Sorry.
Posted by beem0r 9 years ago
beem0r
Change that second sentence in my last post to:
Just because a religion influences a law does not mean that law has to deal with the religion.
Posted by beem0r 9 years ago
beem0r
And no one said we should make laws according to one religion. Just because a religion influences a law does not mean that the law is made because of the religion. For example, a law might be made because of certain actions. Said actions might have only been done because of religion, but the law is not in response to the religion. Still, the religion has influenced the law. This also applies for ideas, see the abortion issue I addressed in round 2.
Posted by beem0r 9 years ago
beem0r
I think you're mixing which side is which. I'm saying that it's OK for religion to affect other things. I didn't say anything about banning Islamic fundamentalism, I said that Islamic fundamentalism has caused policies to be enacted by the government, and rightly so.
In fact, neither I nor my opponent have said anything about banning religions. Please read before you post.
Posted by alexthemoderate 9 years ago
alexthemoderate
"These actions were largely based on their religion - enough so that they wouldn not have done them without it"

Following that logic, we should ban Christianity in this country. The KKK certainly had adopted Christian ideals, but they murdered and committed crimes against the country. But you wouldn't support that, now would you...

The KKK, AS WELL AS ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALISM, are perversions of religions. Gross interpretations taken to a new level. Sick ideologies created by sick people.

Don't say that we can ban a religion nbased on its extremists. Its not the idea of Islam or Christianity that is evil when these vile acts are committed, it is the individuals who perform these tasks.

There are some ideas that are dangerous, but these are specifically the perversions that I was talking about. Treasonous ideologies (those that wish to overthrow the state) CERTAINLY may be banned under the Constitution. But they have to express the danger in order to be banned.
Posted by alexthemoderate 9 years ago
alexthemoderate
No matter how religious our founders were, and no matter how religious our country gets, the principle stands--"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free practice thereof."

Where, in that statement that is in the document that is the highest law in the land, does it say that we can make laws according to one religion. Please, I beg of you, please point out in that statement the language that says that we must establish religious law in this country.

I'm not anti-religion--I go to church. I'm against legislating belief.
Posted by kels1123 9 years ago
kels1123
Its not just about religion. My problem with abortion is not really based on the fact that I am Catholic. My problem is that I feel that abortion is killing a baby and that to me is a problem regardless of religion. Even if I didn't believe in God , I would have a problem with abortion. I carried my daughter for 9 months and whether you want to call it a baby or a fetus at the end of 9 months you give birth to a baby. Why should that baby not have a chance because the parent was (in most cases ) irresponsible. This is not a religious thing for me it is just a human, a life , a baby. Whether you believe in God or not , most people find it wrong to kill someone, so why is that okay?
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