The Instigator
PapaCam94
Pro (for)
Losing
5 Points
The Contender
Awood8964
Con (against)
Winning
9 Points

Separation of church and state

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Awood8964
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/24/2013 Category: Religion
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,853 times Debate No: 35053
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (10)
Votes (2)

 

PapaCam94

Pro

I've stated that I'm for the separation of church and state, taking on this debate does not mean you're arguing against the belief in the separation of church and state, but to my interpretation. I have concluded that expression and teaching of religion by public employees, such as teachers, are very much constitutional and efforts to restrict these expressions are unconstitutional. To give an example, I would say groups like American Atheists have no constitutional authority to do things like sue to have a cross memorial removed from a public 9/11 memorial.
Awood8964

Con

Please Proceed, Ill accept and Debate with you.
Debate Round No. 1
PapaCam94

Pro

Nowadays the meaning of separation of church and state is often misinterpreted and thought to mean religion has no place whatsoever in areas of public office or domain, and public schools as well. But the fact is the separation of church and state isn't anywhere in the constitution, it was a term coined by Thomas Jefferson to describe the Establishment Clause and the Free exercise clause of the First Amendment which are as follows:

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

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

There's absolutely nothing said about expression of religion by members of public trust in either of those clauses. A cross on display in a public museum or a school is not a law respecting an establishment of religion, nor is it a mandate you be a follower of Christ. Is it immoral? Well that's an entirely seperate issue. But illegal? Hardly.

http://www.allabouthistory.org...
Awood8964

Con

Thank you,

Your Argument is very interesting. I would not wholeheartedly disagree on this definition of the "Church and State" rule. But in a previous statement you wrote:

" I have concluded that expression and teaching of religion by public employees, such as teachers, are very much constitutional and efforts to restrict these expressions are unconstitutional. To give an example, I would say groups like American Atheists have no constitutional authority to do things like sue to have a cross memorial removed from a public 9/11 memorial."

In response to this, I feel like when you say "religion", you are referring to Christianity and here are a few scenarios that might clear something up for me.

say for example that I am Muslim, and Pretend for a moment that I had lost family on 9/11...well as we all know (may not all necessarily believe) that It was Due to the actions of Muslim Ideals and principals that caused this incident. So may I then, (having lost family and friends) place a symbol of my religion (like the QurF0;an) on or alongside the cross on said Memorial? It is as you say, my constitutional right, or does that only apply to one religion?

And if we are to teach Religion in Schools, are we not going to need to teach every religion? because in the United States, we are shaped by every religion and culture. It would be our "constitutional right to declare our religion. We would need a class for each one. Christianity, Paganism, Muslim, Buddhism, Scientology, and the list goes on.

Are you able to see a scenario where this might work? and if so please elaborate. These restrictions we have are placed for a reason. can you imagine what life would be like if religions all across the U.S. were able to simply make a rule saying that your child is now forced to learn about the atheist beliefs (or lack thereof)? It's a process we know as "imposing upon".

I'm not quite certain that the very definition of the clause is being "misinterpreted" but rather, expanded upon to include the new age.
Debate Round No. 2
PapaCam94

Pro

When I was talking about religion I was referring to all religions but I used Christianity as an example because its most often singled out, for example the removal of the Christmas tree from the Connecticut state house was a big issue last winter. Therefore yes, you should have the right to express your Muslim beliefs as a member of public trust if that's what you're a follower of.

I'm a firm believer that parents should be able to choose which public school their child goes to. And to answer you about teaching religion, yes all religions should be taught, I think that would be very helpful to my child if I were a parent. I think studying the Qur'ran, for example, would be very helpful in understanding the conflict in the Middle East. But at the same time the teacher should have to right to be open about if he or she agrees with what's in the Qur'ran.

And to your question about a scenario where this could work, I've already explained briefly but I'll reiterate. Parents should have the right to decide where their kids go to school and if they think their child's teacher is too much of a bible thumper it should be their right to remove their child from that class. Also yes we should learn about other religions in school.

But you're making this debate about morality and whether or not its right for religion to be in schools. I was making the case that there is nothing in the constitution that restricts it. So far you've hardly adressed the constitution and haven't done anything to prove it is in violation of the law, so please, let's stay on topic.
Awood8964

Con

I apologize If all you received at the end of my point was that if it were right for religion to be taught in schools. you seemed to have missed the point. those were simply examples and one that I felt necessary to make sure I wasn't debating with someone with a severe bias with one religion. And to be quite frank, you yourself mentioned these and non so in passing. In this debate, try not to bring up subjects you don't want talked about and scrutinized. I'll give you an example.

" I have concluded that expression and teaching of religion by public employees, such as teachers, are very much constitutional and efforts to restrict these expressions are unconstitutional. To give an example, I would say groups like American Atheists have no constitutional authority to do things like sue to have a cross memorial removed from a public 9/11 memorial."

While it may not be a subject of morality, it's still a subtle hint of what particular groups "should" be able to do. I built off of what was to me, a fairly solid base. However, A lot can be debated about for that topic and would gladly debate you later on if religion should be taught in schools.

So if all you have as far as what to build on, I'm afraid It would be very difficult to expand upon. It's sort of a "trap debate" where one party clearly knows that the "not-so-clear" interpretations of a particular section of constitution exists. It's like arguing if the sky above us is blue, or that the sun goes down. you could have simply let yourself win by making one round and saying "This isn't here! look it up" anyone who takes perhaps ten minutes to research the constitution will find this to be an incredibly obvious statement. but the question is, where does one go from here if not on a slight tangent? (one which you perpetuated) or were you simply wanting to find someone who wholeheartedly believed that such restrictions in our constitution were there and have a fun time picking away at them like chickens to laying mash? But I digress, I shall by your request stay on topic and even attempt to humor the situation a bit.

"The phrase "separation of church and state" does not appear anywhere in the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson wrote that the 1st Amendment erected a "wall of separation" between the church and the state (James Madison said it "drew a line," but it is Jefferson's term that sticks with us today). The phrase is commonly thought to mean that the government should not establish, support, or otherwise involve itself in any religion." in fact here is a more specific quote said by our wonderful Jefferson:

"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof", thus building a wall of separation between Church and State."

To me, this is a powerful statement. There are some religions that cannot and will not believe in the god of the Christian bible. If students were forced to learn about deities of other religions, I can see how this is considered and infringement.

like i said before

"I'm not quite certain that the very definition of the clause is being "misinterpreted" but rather, expanded upon to include the new age."

I'm sure you are aware of this term we know as "De Facto" It's when something is in effect, but not formally recognized. English is the "De Facto" language of the U.S. despite not actually coining an official Language on the Federal level. It's the same for several (and I do mean SEVERAL) laws practiced in each individual state and state constitution. This of course goes for our Official constitution. by default allowing teachers to teach their religion to students not belonging to this denomination, would therefore be infringing on the rights of not only the students, but the parents right to free worship. By placing a cross on a monument (such as a memorial) might be seen as that religion taking upon itself of being the "official" religion of a given region. regardless of what that person might actually be doing, It makes a statement. A statement that our government would much rather say "keep it to yourselves" than put emphasis on. De Facto may not be official enough for you, (since you're arguing that since it's not there, these people should be able to Teach religion in schools, Place monuments in public sects, and more) but it is more than enough for our government, and a large population of it's people.

I urge the Audience, and my opponent to please read these cited sources. they Have some good material.

http://en.wikipedia.org...

http://en.wikipedia.org...(United_States)

http://www.usconstitution.net...

http://www.usconstitution.net...

http://civilliberty.about.com...

http://scienceblogs.com...

http://www.merriam-webster.com...

https://en.wikipedia.org...

A better definition of De Facto would be: "in practice, but not necessarily ordained by law".
Debate Round No. 3
PapaCam94

Pro

Allow me to quote myself as you have quoted me

"A cross on display in a public museum or a school is not a law respecting an establishment of religion, nor is it a mandate you be a follower of Christ. Is it immoral? Well that's an entirely seperate issue. But illegal? Hardly"

I made it clear that this debate was not to be about what groups should and shouldn't be allowed to do but rather what the law permits.

I read the article that contains the quote you cited from science blog and based on that article it worries me that you might possibly be trying to portray me as a member of the religious right who's making the case that the exact words "seperation of church and state" aren't actually in the constitution so there really is no such thing as the wall of seperation. But of course we both already know no such term is used in the constitution, I was merely describing where a misconception about its meaning comes from. My position, once again, is that religious expression by members of public trust, such as teachers conducting group prayer in public schools is permitted by the constitution. The position you have chosen to defend was supposed to be contrary to that, there's no trap my friend, for the position you have agreed to defend has held up in the court of law many a time. In fact if you look at the many cases dealing with this very issue, I would contend that the majority of them in recent years have ruled in your favor. But lest I say more for the burden of proof lies with you and I think that it would be more fitting that I lay out some evidence of my own. But for your benefit, however, I will cite a case that ruled in favor of your position and that is Engel v. Vitale. I will quote an article that gives you a bit of background as to what the case was about and then I'll quote excerpts from the majority and dissenting opinions and the explain why latter is more compelling

"Facts of the Case
The Board of Regents for the State of New York authorized a short, voluntary prayer for recitation at the start of each school day. This was an attempt to defuse the politically potent issue by taking it out of the hands of local communities. The blandest of invocations read as follows: "Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and beg Thy blessings upon us, our teachers, and our country."

Majority Opinion

"It is a matter of history that this very practice of establishing governmentally composed prayers for religious services was one of the reasons which caused many of our early colonists to leave England and seek religious freedom in America... [T]he successful Revolution against English political domination was shortly followed by intense opposition to the practice of establishing religion by law"

Dissenting Opinion

"I think the Court has misapplied a great constitutional principle. I cannot see how an 'official religion' is established by letting those who want to say a prayer say it. On the contrary, I think that to deny the wish of these school children to join in reciting this prayer is to deny them the opportunity of sharing in the spiritual heritage of our Nation."

The dissenting opinion is far more compelling because comparing children voluntarily saying a prayer in school to the type of religious persecution faced by early colonists while in England is like comparing apples to oranges. The first amendment prohibits congress to make a law respecting and establishment of religion in order to prevent one faith being branded as the official religion of the land. When children say a prayer led by teachers in school no such law has been enacted, in fact congress has taken no part whatsoever. Unless the prayer is compulsory and/or there is a prerequisite to follow a certain faith if you are to become, for example, a teacher, than neither the religious liberty of the students nor their parents has been broken.

"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof", thus building a wall of separation between Church and State."

Arcording the the article from which you borrowed the above quote, Thomas Jefferson said this in response to whether or not tax dollars should go to contributing a Connecticut church. But of course congress requiring by law it's citizens give financial support to a certain faith would be considered as making a law in respects to an establishment of religion. When Jefferson told those people their legislature had no place creating these sorts of laws he was referring to the Establishment Clause and the Free Excercise Clause, the quote con selected proves that. Those Clauses both clearly pertain to congress and or the legislature. When children say prayers in groups during school congress has taken no part, they're simply exercising they're freedom to express religious beliefs in public domain.

Sorry I didn't lay out clear enough rules to put us on the same page. I look forward to reading your responses.

Sources
http://www.infidels.org......

http://www.oyez.org......

http://www.pbs.org......

http://www.law.cornell.edu......
Report this Argument
Awood8964

Con

Again, I do apologize if for some reason you feel as if that I am making this out to be a moral issue. I too am arguing neither for or against whether or not these examples "should" be in effect. I simply intended to expand upon this topic (only slightly) to see if we could actually gain some ground. To avoid confusion, I will instead do what is requested of me, by simply giving my interpretation of these clauses (which in effect does nothing, since there are no sides, and therefore technically a philosophical discussion rather than an actual debate where one can gain a true understanding of the clauses themselves and what can be done in a given society).

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

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

These are known as the "Establishment Clause" and the "The Free Exercise Clause" (We both know this). But let me take an example that you gave and place it into perspective.

You mentioned this:

"I have concluded that expression and teaching of religion by public employees, such as teachers, are very much constitutional and efforts to restrict these expressions are unconstitutional."

In response to this I will have to disagree. For if a teacher were allowed to teach religion in public school's she would therefore be imposing her personal beliefs on the class. Why? because It is in direct violation of the Establishment Clause. How? it's simple, Let us become familiar with another term known as "compulsory attendance". Laws that require children between certain ages to be in some kind of school program. With that being said, a public school (funded with Taxpayer Dollars) with a Teacher (Also funded with taxes though not directly) would need to teach every single religious affiliation in order to be within legal boundaries of the the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses. and I do mean EVERY single one. This is simply not possible and therefore, a teacher who is allowed to teach his or her students a particular religion (that they believe in) would be seen as a bias and promotion of that religion.

Your statement of teachers being within constitutional boundaries to teach their religion in public school's is false. If they were, It would be seen as a public endorsement of one particular religion, that students would be forced to attend and study. since Schools are funded by state governments, then the teacher who imposes their religion is therefore being endorsed by them.

Let's move on to the second Issue to which you gave an example. (keep in mind, I am only using the same examples but instead providing scenarios but still keeping to my main interpretations of the clauses to which you are disputing). you mentioned:

"To give an example, I would say groups like American Atheists have no constitutional authority to do things like sue to have a cross memorial removed from a public 9/11 memorial."

Let us change this example slightly by placing in it, a different religion(since Atheism is a lack of religion or beliefs). Let us say a cross is placed on a given 9/11 memorial and now we have it there for the public eye to see. Taxpayer money has been placed into this memorial A Muslim see's this and becomes outraged that their religion is not included, suddenly another religious affiliate (pagan) see's that Muslims, and Christians are being represented and endorsed by his money and is now outraged that his/her religion is not being represented properly. Do you see what I am getting at? Anything under Public Domain is state jurisdiction and without fair distribution of any and all religions, they cannot and will not endorse one in particular. They do this to avoid showing favoritism because that is when we start splitting hairs.

Is it a direct violation of the establishment clause because the government "technically" isn't making a law against this sort of expression? No. but the principal remains and it is why several court cases have been lost due to it's irregularities. (examples and citations will be given at the end, to avoid you, and the audience from having to dig through countless quotations when my final thought has yet to be mentioned.

While it is true, the phrase "separation of church and state" does not actually appear anywhere in the Constitution. There is a problem, however, in that some people draw incorrect conclusions from this fact. The absence of this phrase does not mean that it is an invalid concept or that it cannot be used as a legal or judicial principle.

There are any number of important legal concepts which do not appear in the Constitution with the exact phrasing people tend to use. For example, nowhere in the Constitution will you find words like "right to privacy" or even "right to a fair trial." Does this mean that no American citizen has a right to privacy or a fair trial? Does this mean that no judge should ever invoke these rights when reaching a decision?

Of course not - the absence of these specific words does not mean that there is also an absence of these ideas. You can't simply give me your "interpretation" and then proceed to use exact phrasing to prove that something is precise and constitutional.

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

My final point on the matter is, the point of such an amendment is twofold. First, it ensures that religious beliefs - private or organized - are removed from attempted government control. This is the reason why the government cannot tell either you or your church what to believe or to teach. Second, it ensures that the government does not get involved with enforcing, mandating, or promoting particular religious doctrines. This is what happens when the government "establishes" a church - and because doing so created so many problems in Europe, the authors of the Constitution wanted to try and prevent the same from happening here.

Can anyone deny that the First Amendment guarantees the principle of religious liberty, even though those words do not appear there? Similarly, the First Amendment guarantees the principle of the separation of church and state - by implication, because separating church and state is what allows religious liberty to exist. This concludes my interpretation of These clauses and I hold to my standpoint that there ARE laws that restrict such blatant endorsement and teaching of religion, they just may not seem as clearly stated (to some) within our constitution.

I want to thank the Audience (and you PapaCam94) for your time, and thank you for the wonderful debate! and one last thing I wish to urge to both you and the Audience, would be to please go through my sources, (since I had little time to quote and give examples of each and every one, lest I take up the entire page). It will provide all the proof one could desire on why I stand with the "con".

http://www.aclu.org...
http://en.wikipedia.org...
http://archive.adl.org...
http://archive.adl.org...
http://www3.nd.edu...
https://en.wikipedia.org...

http://www.patheos.com... (one of the best, even if youre not a religious Zealot)

http://en.wikipedia.org...
http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com...
http://sixthamendment.org...
Debate Round No. 4
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Torvald 3 years ago
Torvald
I called you a newbie because you joined like a week ago. That's simply recognizing your status in the community, and there are some choice words I could have used that'd've been a lot less polite.

I may not be an expert on the subject, or on the language, or on the argument, but I don't think it's up to you to evaluate whether or not I understood. If you could illustrate how, instead of that, I might reconsider, but from where I'm standing, it looks like you just don't like that your opponent got all of my vote.
Posted by PapaCam94 3 years ago
PapaCam94
Well regardless of how thoroughly you read it, you didn't understand what it was about because neither party was arguing for or against the separation of church and state but about interpretation, no getting around it. How can you claim an argument you don't understand is abysmal? Lets refrain from name calling, eh?
Posted by Torvald 3 years ago
Torvald
PapaCam94, I actually read the whole debate thoroughly. Your argument was abysmal. The comment on the vote is designed as a place to give one's reason for vote. Don't try to sass me around, newb.
Posted by PapaCam94 3 years ago
PapaCam94
Torvald, you clearly skimmed through the debate and didn't even understand what it was about. Neither party was arguing for or against the separation of church and state, both parties agreed there was a legitimate wall of separation. The debate was about whether or not prayer and other expressions of religion by people working for the state was in violation of this. So I think you're assuming because you don't understand my argument that I don't. And in my opinion I think the reason why this site has you explain your vote is to provide constructive criticism, so if you're going to call me out and say I don't know what I'm talking about you should provide an example or so about something I said that was factually inaccurate.
Posted by Torvald 3 years ago
Torvald
I will gladly debate either party in this debate over the same issue, and offer an argument that is not based on a semantics issue.
Posted by Awood8964 3 years ago
Awood8964
Papacam94, you seem to me misunderstanding me yet again, I never said that Religion has "nothing" to do with government, no matter what, I simply provided examples of where in government that cases of religion has not been allowed to penetrate.

Also, , I feel like now you're making it a game of who get's the last word. The debate had 4 rounds, and you're attempting to continue said debate on the comments section. In real debates this would disqualify you. It's in the hands of the voters as to where they stand. Having said that, I will say nothing further in regards to our debate.
Posted by PapaCam94 3 years ago
PapaCam94
And to answer your question Juris_Naturalis, the debate was about interpretation of its meaning, not who is for or against the separation of church and state but rather its meaning.
Posted by PapaCam94 3 years ago
PapaCam94
I wish we had more rounds to debate because I could lay out more constitutional evidence, but we don't have time. Again con is making the case that I'm claiming because the exact words don't appear in the constitution therefore there is no wall of separation. I'm acknowledging their is but the rules pertain to congress in order to prevent an official religion from establishing. Con is claiming that it means religion have nothing to do with government, no matter what. But why then are the words "In God We Trust" printed on our currency? I would argue that is closer to establishing an official religion than kids praying in school. Con is making the argument that because all religions would have to be taught then its impossible, but that might be true if they all had to be learned simultaneously. However kids are in school 12 years not including college. Wish we had more rounds, I just wanted to make these points known
Posted by Juris_Naturalis 3 years ago
Juris_Naturalis
Uh guys, I think you might've subconsciously switched positions. Awood, was supposed to be arguing against separation of church and state, which therefore means he is arguing in favour OF church and state. Pro would technically being arguing for separation of church and state. Or am I the only one who thinks this?
Posted by Torvald 3 years ago
Torvald
I'm pretty sure that 'cross memorial' is actually just a bent and broken crossbeam that somebody with no knowledge of architecture decided was a sign from God.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by lannan13 3 years ago
lannan13
PapaCam94Awood8964Tied
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Total points awarded:52 
Reasons for voting decision: Con had better sources no doubt about it, but the rest of the points here are going towards a cvb.
Vote Placed by Torvald 3 years ago
Torvald
PapaCam94Awood8964Tied
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: I certainly didn't expect the debate to take this shape. Pro tried to hinge the entire debate over a technicality/semantics issue in round 2, that it was the First Amendment and not the Constitution that forbade mingling of church and state, and therefore that the issue was less important. After that, Pro ended up arguing the Con position, and Con the Pro. Simply put, however, Pro had no idea what he was talking about. He did not understand the interpretation of the First Amendment, he did not understand the deep-rooted issue, and quite frankly I doubt he understood the meaning of his own argument, let alone his opponent's. Con adapted smoothly to Pro's antics, and despite being forced into an opposite position, presented a convincing argument. I say in my vote that beforehand I agreed with Pro, and afterhand I agree with Con. This is because I am a proponent of separation of church and state, and as the debate ended with Pro arguing against this and Con for it, my vote is cast such.