The Instigator
nberry93
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Ragnar
Con (against)
Winning
22 Points

Should Public Schools have a prayer room?

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
Ragnar
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/17/2013 Category: Religion
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,054 times Debate No: 32577
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (4)

 

nberry93

Pro

If we are going to say that students can't express themselves by praying. So they be allowed to have a room to go to where they can pray? They should because schools are always wanting them to express themselves and what better why then by praying.
Ragnar

Con

I shall be arguing from the side that public schools should not have a dedicated prayer room.

Question:
May I assume this is in reference to the USA or another non-religiously governed nation?
Debate Round No. 1
nberry93

Pro

U.S. I'm not saying that schools should require students to go to the prayer room or that they should have one sit religion. I want students to be able to have somewhere they can go in pray without interrupting class time. Some religions have sit times during the day when they pray.
Ragnar

Con

Argument:
The very first amendment to the U.S. constitution, included two clauses to ensure separation of church and state (1). Generally the U.S. government may neither interfere with nor endorse any religion. Legal battles over this has lead to a logical conclusion that students may express themselves through religion, to include praying; but not to any extent that it interferes with the school, their classmates, or is outright supported by the school.

Assigning students a special room to pray in would be harmful from either perspective.
  1. It would lead to them discouraged from expressing their religion in public, having to go to a certain location (with variable sizes and qualities in different schools), the location could be an inconvenient distance from their class locations, and perhaps even deal with such problems as if the room were locked.
    Assuming it was locked: They'd have to track down whoever has the key, travel back to the room, and get back to class on time with their prayer schedule (during their free time) directly interfered with by the school. Perhaps them being unable to pray. Assuming it were not locked there's a vandalism risk, the issues of who pays for repairs? If not repaired the students being forced to suffer insult against their faith(s) by the state of the room.
  2. From the other side of the law, the school is giving a room to support religion. The room could be useful for any number of things directly related to the governmental mandated quality of education. The school has to pay for it's upkeep. Ensure the basic security of it. Plus new schools being built having "religious room" written into the blueprints, with the cost of those square feet.

This is of course not looking at the issues of forcing the students to either conform and pray together regardless of their faiths, or to take second place and wait for the other religion that was in the room first to finish. Then there is the issues over decoration of the room, and if bare how long until one group intentionally leaves religious material behind which they know to be offensive to another?

If a student or group of students wishes a quite place to pray that is monitored, clean, safe, they already have a library. If they dislike the library they can go almost anywhere on the school grounds, so long as it's not a class

Rebuttal:
I agree with Pro's source. "Prayer in public schools should not be allowed. Everybody has different religious backgrounds" (2, or the 45 second mark on above video).

The students should continue to express themselves, but without the limitations of having to do it in what (in some schools) may turn out to be a janitors closet.

Sit times of their faith may easily be conducted in a non-prayer room, such as the library.


Sources:
(1) http://www.law.cornell.edu...
(2) http://youtu.be...

Debate Round No. 2
nberry93

Pro

10 Reasons for School Prayer
1) Our government was based on religious principles from the very beginning. The Declaration of Independence says:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by God with certain unalienable rights..."

Indeed, it speaks of God, creations, God-given moral rights, the providence of God, and a final Day of Judgment - all of which are religious teachings. Indeed, the Supreme Court affirmed (Zorach, 1952) that "We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being." And school prayer has been an important part of our religious experience from the very beginning.

2) The First Amendment does not separate God and government but actually encourages religion. It reads:

"Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

The first clause merely declares that the federal government cannot establish one religion for all the people. It says nothing about "separation of church and state." In fact, five of the 13 states that ratified it had their own state religions at the time. The second clause insists that the government should do nothing to discourage religion. But forbidding prayer in schools discourages religion.

3) Early congressional actions encouraged religion in public schools. For example, the Northwest Treaty (1787 and 1789) declared:

"Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary for good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of learning shall forever be encouraged."

Thus, religion, which includes prayer, was deemed to be necessary.

4) Early presidents, with congressional approval, made proclamations encouraging public prayer. President Washington on Oct. 3, 1789, declared:

"Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me 'to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer...'"

5) Congress has prayed at the opening of every session since the very beginning. Indeed, in a moment of crisis at the very first Continental Congress Benjamin Franklin urged prayer and observed:

"In the beginning of the Contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible to danger, we had daily prayer in this room for Divine protection. - Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered... And have we now forgotten that powerful Friend? or do we imagine we no longer need His assistance? ...I therefore beg leave to move - that henceforth prayer imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessing on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service."

Congress has begun with prayer ever since. If the government can pray in their session, why can't the governed pray in their (school) sessions?

6) Public schools had prayer for nearly 200 years before the Supreme Court ruled that state-mandated class prayers were unconstitutional (Engle, 1962). The fact that prayer was practiced for nearly 200 years establishes it by precedent as a valid and beneficial practice in our schools.

7) Since the court outlawed prayer, the nation has been in steady moral decline. Former Secretary of Education William Bennett revealed in his cultural indexes that between 1960 and 1990 there was a steady moral decline. During this period divorce double, teenage pregnancy went up 200%, teen suicide increased 300%, child abuse reached an all-time high, violent crime went up 500% and abortion increased 1000%. There is a strong correlation between the expulsion of prayer from our schools and the decline in morality.

8) Morals must be taught, and they cannot properly be taught without religion. There cannot be a moral law without a moral Law Giver. And there is no motivation for keeping the moral law unless there is a moral Law Giver who can enforce it by rewards and punishments.

9) Forbidding prayer and other religious expressions in public schools establishes, in effect, the religion of secularism. The Supreme Court has affirmed that there are religions, such as "secular humanism", which do not believe in God (Torcaso, 1961). Justice Potter (Abington, 1963) rightly feared that purging the schools of all religious beliefs and practices would lead to the "establishment of a religion of secularism." In fact, the beliefs of secular humanism are just the opposite of the Declaration of Independence. By not allowing theistic religious expression, the courts have favored the religious beliefs of secular humanism, namely, no belief in God, God-given moral laws, prayer and a Day of Judgment.

10) To forbid the majority the right to pray because the minority object, is to impose the irreligion of the minority on the religious majority. Forbidding prayer in schools, which a three-quarters majority of Americans favors, is the tyranny of the minority. It is minority rule, not democracy. Why should an irreligious minority dictate what the majority can do? The majority wishes to preserve our moral and spiritual values and, thus, our good nation.

http://www.restore-christian-america.org...
Ragnar

Con

Final rebuttal:
For round 3 pro (N. Berry, DOB '93?) has failed to produce their own argument, instead opting to copy/paste Dr. Norman Geisler's (N. Geisler, DOB '32). As credit was not properly given this is an act of plagiarism, thus entirely dismissible from this argument. Perhaps worse, the website linked also failed the give credit to the author (who has his own website).

Further, within the plagiarized text within the very first section it cites the legal case of Zorach v. Clauson (actually what gave away the copy/past job), which is a case for a program to allow students to leave school grounds with parental consent for religious reasons, however "The program involves neither religious instruction in public schools nor the expenditure of public funds" (1). As explained and unchallenged in round 2, a guaranteed room provided by the school would involve the expenditure of public funds; thus breaking the first U.S. Constitutional Amendment.

For a better and complete challenge to the copy/pasted material, Ryan Hofmeister's website is listed in the sources below (2); he argued against the first point on different grounds than I, but continues through all points which I need not do.


Closing Statement:
I have challenged my opponent's round 1 and 2 claims, and those have not been counter defended. Further no valid claims were brought in to round 3.
My own claims have not been challenged.
Therefore my position stands uncontested: Prayer rooms should not be forced on public schools.


Sources:
(1) http://www.law.cornell.edu...
(2) http://rhatheist.tripod.com...
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Ragnar 3 years ago
Ragnar
nberry93: References are fine, paraphrasing from one is fine, but a good rule is avoid copy/pasting more than about a fifth of your total word count; and when doing so be very clear where someone else's words begin and end.

Best of luck to you in future arguments.
Posted by Ragnar 3 years ago
Ragnar
Sorry my round two was so lengthy. I'll introduce no new arguments into the final round.
Nberry93, you're welcome to bring in new arguments; or do anything else to challenge my overview and secure the win.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by SuperiorArsenal 3 years ago
SuperiorArsenal
nberry93RagnarTied
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro lost points on conduct for plagerism. Con presented well-thought out points that went unchallenged by Pro, netting Con points for his argument. Pro also lost source points, as he didn't even properly link his plagerism.
Vote Placed by imabench 3 years ago
imabench
nberry93RagnarTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Copy Pasted arguments, didnt respond to the con's own points, con used sources. Complete win
Vote Placed by jackintosh 3 years ago
jackintosh
nberry93RagnarTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro lost me when he couldn't read the Declaration of independence correctly. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights." Notice he put god in where ti shouldn't be, a major problem for people who want more god in places that government holds sway.
Vote Placed by enclave101 3 years ago
enclave101
nberry93RagnarTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con pointed out the problems with having a prayer room and that kids can pray in the library if they want to. Pro needed a better argument.