The Instigator
Con (against)
3 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
1 Points

Should legislation be made based on religious morality?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/29/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 443 times Debate No: 69116
Debate Rounds (3)
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Votes (1)




Considering that the United States of America allows for freedom of religion and does not impose any national religion, legislation should be passed based on the parameters given to us by the Constitution itself instead of what religious text stipulates.

Note: If what is said in religion coincides with what is stated in the Constitution, then that is obviously permissible.


While the government of the United States is set up to be a secular government, there is nothing that excludes laws from being written and passed based on the moral guidance given to a person by religion. We can see many examples of this being the case. Many people find moral guidance from their religion, so it is quite impossible for them to make moral decisions (e.g. laws) without being guided in some form or fashion by religious convictions. We can see this from both sides of the aisle. Former President Jimmy Carter has written extensively on his faith and how it helped shape his administration's policy, and we see it from the right most recently in presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Of course sometimes the religious moral view won't be agreeable to all, but that is one of the reasons we have elected officials which we can elect out of office if a plurality of the electorate wants it.

Of course we can't have laws that grant favoritism to a particular religious sect over others, but I think we were set up as a society that permits legislation being passed based on an lawmaker's moral compass which can be given to them from religion.
Debate Round No. 1


There is a clear difference between law and morality. The purpose of law in the United States of America is to protect the natural rights of a person to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Morals are the rules and guidelines a person follows in their own life. A person can decide these morals for themselves, be influenced in their morality by a religious institution, or have their morality influenced by the laws handed down by the government. However, at the end of the day, in the United States of America, an individual has the ultimate authority to decide their own morality, as long as said morality does not harm the life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness for another. Government cannot really legislate morality, because morals are the thing decided upon by every individual. The laws government passes are to protect life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Religion can influence or even decide the morality of a person, and that person can follow that morality if they wish. However, morality, especially religious morality, that one person may abide by should not be enforced on another. As for Jimmy Carter and Mike Huckabee, you cite them as success stories, yet their mutual unpopularity in today's world goes to show that the American people of today dislike having religious morality thrust upon them.


We both agree that morals are the rules/guidelines an individual person follows. We are also in agreement that
A person's morals, whether they come from religion or through reason, influence the actions of the person. I don't think a person can quickly or easily divorce themselves from their morality to make legislation simply because their moral source is from religion rather than reason. I'm not arguing that religious law should be the basis for secular laws. Nor am I arguing that religious commandments should be enforced with federal/state/local legislation. I am arguing that there is legislation on which a person's set of morals decides how they vote and there is no way to get around that.

If a lawmaker is a secular-humanist, then the legislation they vote for/against is done so based on their non-religious source of morality. If a lawmaker's source of morality is religion, then the legislation they vote for/against is done so based on religious morality. I don't think a person, religious or not, is capable of divorcing themselves from their moral convictions. Obviously this can be done on legislation that doesn't have strong moral convictions, like whether to rename a particular highway. Let's take the issue of torture for example. When voting on legislation to permit the use of torture, I don't think you could get people to not look at the issue without their perspective on the issue being tainted by their particular moral outlook. Hot-button issues like that are going to have people vote according to their morality, and it would be wrong to forbid only the religious lawmakers from basing their decision on their morality simply because their moral source differs from others.

Morals guide a person's actions and will influence how they vote on legislation, so a lawmaker's religious morality should be allowed to help form legislation just as an atheist lawmaker's morality via reason should be allowed to help them vote on legislation.
Debate Round No. 2


I feel like this debate has gotten off track a bit, so I will now bring it back to where it should be before it is too late. The original purpose, as I said it the description, is whether or not legislation should be made based on what is stipulated as morality in religious text. Yes, a lawmaker's morality, likely based off their religious faith, may have an influence on how feel about legislation and possibly what legislation is even passed. You appear to be arguing that a person's morality should have an influence in how laws are passed. I agree completely. However, the purpose stated in the description is that legislation should not be passed based on what is stipulated in the text of a religion. If, for example, the Bible states that homosexuality is a grave sin, that does not mean that the federal government of the United States of America should criminalize homosexuality without having any legitimacy of protecting a person's rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. In the end, they would be criminalizing such acts solely because it is stipulated in religious text. That cannot be allowed, considering that would basically be de facto forcing the word of God and the Bible upon a population that may not completely believe so. Religious morality such as that cannot be legislated, as it would do what I stated above.


In my previous arguments I have discussed how no laws prohibit religious morality from being used to make legislation. My opponent and I have agreed that one's own moral code, whether the source be religion or some more rational/reasonable source, is going to have an effect on how one votes on legislation or writes up legislative bills. Divorcing oneself from one's moral code simply because the source is religious is a form of religious persecution which is not something this country was founded on.

The question being addressed in this debate is this; should legislation be made based on religious morality? To answer this question we must remind ourselves what it is to make legislation. Legislation is made by writing bills, and by voting on the bills. Pro and I have already agreed that voting on bills (the final step in making legislation) often requires guidance from each voting official's moral code, and more often than not that moral code has religion as its source. To put this another way a lawmaker's vote on to make legislation would be based off their morality, religious or otherwise. Pro and I have also agreed that it is difficult, if not impossible, for one to divorce oneself from one's own moral code. Therefore it seems to me a settle issue when it comes to utilizing religious morality to make legislation via the voting process.

The first part, drafting legislation, is yet to be agreed upon. If one can vote using one's morality, then what mechanism is there within the individual to allow them to abandon their morality when it comes to drafting bills. Drafting legislation is a duty of legislators that feel something new is needed, something needs to change, or something needs reform. Legislators have their country's best interests in mind when drafting legislation. Is it even possible for legislators to separate themselves from the guidance of their morality when drafting what they feel is supposed to lead their country in the best direction? If we both agree they can use their morality to vote legislation into law, then we must also allow legislators to use their morality when they are drafting the legislation which is to be voted on.

Legislation is made by writing bills and voting them into laws. When lawmakers are guided in authorship by their moral code, or when they vote to make legislation law they are basing their decision to make that legislation on their morality. Lawmakers may get their morality form different sources, including religion and reason, and their morality (no matter the source) is an integral part in the basis and formation of legislation. Part of what keeps a lawmaker basing legislation on the best interest of the nation is their own moral obligation to serve their constituency to their best ability. If we force lawmakers to abandon their morals, whether based on religion or reason, it would have devastating consequences on public policy. In short, we currently allow legislators to base legislation on their morality and it is in the best interest of the country to allow them to continue to do so, no matter is the source is religious or rational.

Thanks for the debate, it has been wonderful.
Debate Round No. 3
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Vote Placed by MyDinosaurHands 1 year ago
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Total points awarded:31 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro never responded to Con's argument regarding homosexuality and de facto establishment of religion, which was a strong point; this is why I give Con points for arguments. I almost did not however, because he contradicted himself in his final round, agreeing that lawmakers shouldn't have to divorce morality from their legislation, and then promptly going on to make the aforementioned point. This would be a problem, but Pro failed to point this out, so I am comfortable in awarding Con arguments. Pro receives points for S&G because of his superior formatting in terms of paragraphing and idea structure. Con repeated the same idea with different words a couple times, and generally left everything in one big, ugly chunk.