The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
8 Points

Religious justifications regarding a proposed national/state law should be disregarded.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/15/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 671 times Debate No: 56646
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (3)




1st Round - Acceptance. 2nd Round - Opening Argument. 3rd Round - Second Argument/Closing Statement.
Debate Round No. 1


Religious justifications regarding proposed legislation, whether federal/state/local, is entirely irrelevant to such a situation and should be completely disregarded in the decision making process.

Let me start off with some information from Creighton University regarding a Yale law professor by the name of Stephen Carter and his book, "The Culture of Disbelief."

"His argument in a nutshell is that religion has no privileged place in debates about public policy, but neither should it be uniquely disadvantaged. Yet this is precisely what is happening in American culture today, argues Carter. Liberal democracy has no place for religion in politics, for it envisions religion as a private, personal matter, "like building model airplanes, just another hobby: something quiet, something private, something trivial--and not really a fit activity for intelligent, public-spirited adults."

The article continues, "After making the case for the important role religion should play in political discourse, Carter looks at the way in which American politics often marginalizes religion by demanding that public debates be limited to arguments that all persons--despite their differing backgrounds and religious beliefs--can accept. The result is to require religious people to bracket their deepest values when they enter the public arena. Religious believers, says Carter, must "remake themselves" before they are allowed to participate in public policy debates." []

Let's look at this critically. Essentially, what Stephen Carter is trying to say is that religion should have no place in the public arena because there are many different views and religions. Some differ slightly. Others differ dramatically.

If a law were to be passed on the basis of a religious justification, that justification would really only matter to the people that believed in that religion and would be forcing other people, people who do not believe in the same ideologies, to abide by that certain religion's morals/beliefs. Thus, becomes a mild form of oppression. Mild, yes, but still oppression.

Religion has been a hindrance to society's progression all along. One needs not look further than the Dark Ages or the Crusades. Many great minds were punished, therefore their intelligence would not be recognized until later, because they deviated from the Church's beliefs.

Laws are a part of societal progression and when religious issues are debated regarding a law in the public arena, it becomes a nuisance to others because their beliefs are different and it becomes a type of lag that slows down the process of progress.

I leave you with an abstract of a Yale student's public law research paper to maybe clear up any miscommunication.

"This paper intervenes in the debate on the place of religious arguments in public reason. I advance the debate not by asking whether something called "religious reasons" ought to be invoked in the justification of coercive laws, but by creating a typology of (a) different kinds and modes of religious arguments and, more importantly, (b) different areas of human and social life which coercive laws regulate or about which human political communities deliberate. Religious arguments are of many different kinds, are offered to others in a variety of ways, and the spheres of life about which communities deliberate pose distinct moral question. Turning back to the public reason debate, I argue then that liberals ought to be concerned only about the invocation of a certain subset of religious reasons only in a certain subset of areas of human activity, but also that inclusivist arguments on behalf of religious contributions to public deliberation both fail to explain the moral appeal of religious arguments and fail to justify the use of religious arguments in all areas of public deliberation." []

(Really interesting paper. I encourage everyone to read it.)


I. Religious Justification/Demographic Correlation

My problem with the OP's proposal isn't that there should be a separation of church and state, but his opinion that religious justification should be disregarded in proposed laws. Religion plays a huge part in everyone's life, and many states are justifying laws that suit the populace within them. Despite what many believe, not all states are bound by separation of church and state in their constitutions.

It really depends on the law at hand, but in certain cases, the populace may be religious, and advocate for a law based on the people's belief. Lets not forget, democracy is giving the people what they want, and if the people want laws for and by the religious, then they have every right to justify it with said religion.

Whatever the circumstances, there will always be some truth in religious justification. The weight of these arguments are probably low, but they still hold weight.

II. Legitimate Examples of Justifiable Religious Arguments

Protesting god within a private church should be illegal

- Abortion should be illegal (As much as I hate this one, there is some justification in the argument)

- Funerals should have a barrier limit for ralliers (The recent and popular law was justified by religious leaders)

III. Religion for Anti-Liberty/Liberty

This is perhaps my strongest contention. My opponent makes the outright foolish claim that all religious justifications are to take away liberty from the people. Many people will agree with his claims thinking that if the US were a theocracy, they would prohibit alchohol, ban abortions, take away freedom of religion.

Has the OP took under consideration, that religious arguments can somehow benefit the pursuit of liberty? Many great matyrs and philosophers have died fighting for greater liberties using religion. In many religious movements, there is more to gain through freedom than oppression. The protestant factions of the liberalist golden age used religious justification to fasten progress.

My opponent strongly supports the claim that religion hinders progress. Religion can be used to excel progress. Religion is a understanding. Peoples views have changed on the subject over 5 revival movements. I guess what I'm trying to say, is that religious arguments can be made for good things and bad things.

They should not be disregarded.

IV. Secular Justification

The truth is, even though most states have adopted a separation of church and state clause in their constitutions, many debates still center around religion. Take abortion for example. No matter the course of option, the religious and non religious will be affected in some way.

So why is the secular justification allowed and not the religious one? There are two truths that the US should recognize by now....

1. Freedom of Religion

2. Freedom From Religion

This is my problem with the OP. Religious justification is used to PROTECT point number one. If the OP were to not be hypocritical, then we would need to disregard all arguments that PROTECT freedom from religion. You can't have one without the other. By disregarding religous justification, we are disregarding many arguments that are currently being used to protect religion.

People have the right to defend their practices, worship, and religious liberties. How can they do that without religious justification?

V. Conclusion

I will wrap this up quite simply. Religious justification holds little weight in political debates, but it does hold just enough to matter. I also contended that there is a hypocripsy in allowing secular argumentation and not religious ones. Sometimes the only way to defend freedom of religion, is by defending religion itself. How do you do that? By justifying your religion.

As I said, its the only way to protect methods of worship and custom, and that counts for something.
Debate Round No. 2


Con has taken good viewpoints against my proposal, but there are many holes within them. I'll break it down.

I. Religious Justification/Demographic Correlation

With the comment, "...many states are justifying laws that suit the populace within them." that makes me think that the populace of a state all uphold the same beliefs and morals. Which, I think all can agree, is not true.

For example, let's say that a state has a population of 12 million. Of that, 65 percent are Christians or a denomination of Christianity, and the rest are the people who hold different morals. (Atheists, Hindus, Buddhists, etc.) Passing a law based on majority vote justified by religious arguments subjects the remaining 35 percent to abide by a law that has been justified by differing morals/beliefs. Of course, most people agree on obvious things such as murder, but where religion is really a hindrance is on societal/human rights issues such as gay marriage.

Also, is it a true democracy when an issue is justified by religious reasons? Once again, it all comes down to differing beliefs. Democracy must rely on hard facts to truly be a democracy and not allow a law to be passed by religious justification of the majority belief.

Zeno of Citium (335 - 263 BCE) wrote that, "a well-admired republic is founded on the principle that human beings should not be separated within cities and nations under laws particular to themselves, because all humans are compatriots..., and because there is only one life and one order of things (cosmos)." Laws must be passed on bases that everyone can agree on.

II. Legitimate Examples of Justifiable Religious Arguments

I really shouldn't even have to contend Con's examples.

Religion is a personal matter left up to individuals. Yes, protesting god within a private church should be illegal. People have a right to practice what they choose and deserve a place to do so as long as it does not interfere with anything that affects the population as a whole.

III. Religion for Anti-Liberty/Liberty

I am not making the claim that religious justifications are to take away liberty. As I stated above, religion is a personal matter and should be taken seriously, but when it comes into play with laws that affect populations as whole, there is no place for it. As long as religion has a place in the law-making process, there will never be full liberty for everyone. Take to my example above. And, once again, laws must be passed based on facts and on a consensus that everyone can agree on. That is the only way that everyone can achieve full liberty.

IV. Secular Justification

Freedom of Religion allows one to practice a religion and not to be discriminated against for it. By all means, people have the right to belief in what they want and to practice it. The problem here is one that I've stated many times before. For a nation to be a true republic, laws cannot be passed based on religious justification. And, again, go to my example above. Is there a true freedom of religion when others are to abide by laws passed on another religion's justification of the law?

V. Conclusion

The secular argument is allowed because it can be proved with scientific evidence, facts, etc. While the religious arguments cannot be. There is no evidence.

Closing Statement: Laws must be passed using factual information and when passed must be justifiable to everyone affected.

(I thank my opponent for a good debate.)


I. OP understanding of democracy

My opponent doesn't understand what democracy is, given several various comments. " Also, is it a true democracy when an issue is justified by religious reasons", "Democracy must rely on hard facts to truly be a democracy", ect.



        1. a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.

Democracy is a system that represents the majority, for the majority, and built by the majority, under a free electoral system in which one has the right to elect his representatives. If democracy is rule by the majority, and the majority are religious, and want to justify laws based on religion, then they have every single right in doing so.

Proposing that we shoud "discard" religious justifications, or any justifications at all, isn't democracy. It's
. Look, I don't like bible thumping laws, or probably a lot of the things you have in mind, but can you honestly tell me that people shouldn't be allowed to explain religious justification?

II. Religious Justifications cont.

- Jewish adherents should be allowed to sacrifice a lamb once a month in temple. (Jewish progressives have been fighting for centuries to preserve religious traditions)

- Homosexuals should be allowed to get married (Yes, this argument is religious. Christian homosexuals fight for this instead of civil unions)

- Citizens should be allowed to wear crosses in public (Debate currently going on in France)

Students shouldn't be required to eat only pork in school lunches (Going on in several countries)

My opponent obviously isn't grasping my points. Religious arguments have to be made, to protect religion itself. Just as secular arguments are needed to protect those who are not religious. You can not disregard the other side of an argument without oppressing that side.

This is how we preserve the rights of the minority in a system where the majority rules.

III. Liberty/Anti Liberty

I still feel my contentions aren't being properly conveyed to the opposition. You can't give one man liberty without taking anothers away. Liberty IS NOT one sided. There will always be some who gain, and some who lose liberty with every law or desicion we make.

The whole point of this contention is to show that liberties often get taken away from the religious, and who can protect the religious without religion itself? This is the only way to preserve liberty. By giving all social groups, religions, denominations, and beliefs a say in government.

You can't choose which justifications are worthy in a law. End of story.

IV. Secular Justification/The Secular argument is based on logic

This is a misconception. When I refer to secular, I was not reffering to those solely who don't worship in god. I'm saying that their are people out there who actively work against religion, just as their are people who actively work against atheism. By giving one the power of justification, and taking it away from another, is choosing sides in a war between anti theists and the ultra religious.

Remember the 9/11 cross debate, where International Atheists or something (largely accused of anti-theism) tried to remove the WTC cross that was built by the local churches for worship? The only reason the bill was turned down was because people defended their right to worship at ground zero.

That is an example of protecting relgious customs in the only way possible. Through religious justification. My opponent admits that religion is highly personal and should be taken seriously. If he concedes that religion and the practicices within it need to be taken seriously, then he must concede that the religious have the right to defend their way of life. This is true equality and democracy at work.

V. Conclusion

- My opponent went through the whole debate with the sole impression that all religiously justified laws are designed to take away from the secular. He did not consider that some laws can hurt the religious. I agree with the first point, but the latter is where his BOP collapses.

- My opponent has misunderstood what democracy is, and made several arguments that giving the religious justifications in legality work against the minority. He did not consider that some religious may be a minority (Czeck republic, 85% atheist), or that taking away the right of justification is making them a minority. His BOP faltered greatly here.

- My opponent conceded several times that the rights and practices of the religious should be taken seriously and be personal. His BOP outright falls, because he did not take into consideration that some laws can hurt the rights and practices of the religious.

Overall, my opponent presented a strong case, but he left a couple large wholes that leaked the BOP right out of his argument. For the most part, I agree with the OP. Just not at the same level of affirmation my opponent wants to apply universally. Good debate, and cheers!

^ This one. The Department of Justice recognizes the right to protect religion as a civil right guaranteed under the constitution, as a article under the constitution of the United States of America.

^ Good one as well. The Council of Europe,guarantees the right and defense of the religious practices as a human right.

^ A congress of Jews dedicated towards the legal protection of religious worship and practices

^ Muslims are often discriminated and worked against for their customs. They must justify their practices by justifying their religious.

Debate Round No. 3
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Posted by ChosenWolff 2 years ago
Posted by ChosenWolff 2 years ago
I was planning on writing this tonight, but Detroit is being hit by green thunder. Epic, explosions blasting things all around me. Note, I might have to write this early tomorrow if the power lines get shot down again/
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by GOP 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: I did not have enough time to read the arguments, but I am giving conduct to con since he presented his arguments neatly by using rich text. Con also used sources.
Vote Placed by Sagey 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: I couldn't make a decision on the arguments as I agree with points made by both sides, and none seem strong enough to override the other. Religions, since even though they are nothing more than superstitions, have large enough followers to warrant a voice for things that concern them, yet, religious involvement directly in politics causes poor decision making and even extremely bad actions, enter George Bush. So I'm in the middle as far as arguments go, but Con did provide more interesting poignant sources.
Vote Placed by Romanii 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Both sides gave strong arguments, but lacked strong rebuttals, instead pretty much re-asserting their opening arguments in response to each other's. Thus, the winner of the debate is decided by who has the stronger defensive case. Pro's main argument is that religion is a strictly personal matter with no place in politics. While this is a strong point, I found Con's contentions to be significantly stronger. He definitely shows that in a true democratic government, if the majority is religious, religiously justified laws should be allowed. He also effectively shows that open government promotion of secularism could be viewed as state-sponsored discrimination against the religious. Con's provided examples of legitimate religiously justified laws helped strengthen his case quite a bit, as well. Pro basically responds to all of these contentions by just re-asserting that religion is personal, but that doesn't really refute the logic underlying Con's case... hence, I vote Con. Good debate!