The Instigator
DebateRefines
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
superbowl9
Con (against)
Winning
1 Points

That Religious Expression Should Be Banned in Public Places

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
superbowl9
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/20/2014 Category: Religion
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,055 times Debate No: 59216
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)

 

DebateRefines

Pro

Hi

I'm new to this, and have chosen a topic which I think should lead to an interesting debate.

Format
Round 1: Acceptance
Round 2: Arguments
Round 3: Arguments and Rebuttals
Round 4: Rebuttals and Conclusions

Thanks in Advance
superbowl9

Con

I accept.
Debate Round No. 1
DebateRefines

Pro

Thank you again for accepting my topic, and I hope that you enjoy our debate.

On choosing this topic, the most important part for me was the qualifier "in Public Places". The argument for whether or not religion or religious expression should exist is a whole other debate.

On that note, I would like to define the key term.
I would define religious expression, as the act of expressing religious perspectives or practises verbally or physically, religion being defined as [1]"the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices".

Firstly, I would like to set out the structure of how I shall argue my point.

My first argument shall solely consist of proving that religious expression creates tension in public places.
My second argument shall subsist of proving that ultimately the advantages of freedom of religion and speech do not cover this tension.
The first argument is by far the easiest, as examples of religious tension are scattered throughout history. I point to two prominent examples as being the continuing history of the crusades and the Rape of Nanking.

Firstly, the Crusades. Arguably, they were started in an attempt by Pope Urban to spread his power, but that does not explain the long history of conflict which moved the borders of Christendom and Islam back and forth several times. This started in 1096[2], and arguably goes as far as the British and French management of Middle Eastern territories post World War 1. This demonstrates how dangerous it can be, for two religions to share a similar enough history that they have related beliefs i.e. the importance of Jerusalem, but are different enough to justify killing the other. I would argue that this long and bloody history constitutes religious expression, as at least the Christian side were commanded to "save" the holy land by someone who embodied a god[3] (pope Urban). They were acting on a core tenant of the Christian belief, god as the highest authority, and risked eternal damnation otherwise. And the expression of that belief led to bloodshed.

The second example sounds surprising, as it is commonly thought of through an ethnic perspective, rather than a religious one. By my perspective, examine the structure of Japanese society pre-World War 2: The emperor is the god, who was appointed by divine instruction from the sun goddess [4]. As taken from Confucianism, the social structure is very rigid, so far so that occupations were by law hereditary. Then take the entry of industrialisation and European government, but a very filtered one. The Japanese took the colonialism, the factories and the mass proletariat class system, but did not take the growing middle class, or works right movements. They took the idea of a constitution and an elected parliament, but liked the German system which allowed the emperor total control whenever he liked. And due to the geography of Japan, there was never allowed a proliferation of new ideas and the like amongst the population. This rigid class system mentality, with a God at the top, is one that so easily falls into war. Because although it is not called by it by the word specifically, the Japanese social system was, by the definition given, a religion: a body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practises.

That The Rape of Nanking was mentioned specifically, because it illustrates so well how badly it can go. An estimated [5]300,000 (contested) civilians were massacred, because they were seen as beneath the Japanese soldiers. In that same way that Pope Urban decreed that the Godly tenant "thou shalt not kill" did not apply to Muslims, the Japanese religion left no room for the dishonoured or the lower classed.

I simply use these historical examples to illustrate how badly it can go wrong. Looking at religions in general, one can see how easily it could wrong. If I chose to start a religion in which the killing of the red headed were mandatory, than I would call it an exercise of my religious expression the act of killing them. And although the hypothetical is seemingly ridiculous, I believe that it illustrates how sublimely stupid a justification the reason of religion is. Its truth notwithstanding, the multitude of religions that exist in the world, most of which theoretically cannot coexist peacefully, demonstrates the need for society to make new laws which make it easier to do so.

Thank you for reading, and I await you first argument.

[1]http://dictionary.reference.com...
[2]http://www.religionfacts.com...
[3] http://gbgm-umc.org...
[4] http://asianhistory.about.com...
[5] http://en.wikipedia.org...
superbowl9

Con

Hello and thanks for some good points, this looks like it will be a good debate.

I don't think I'm allowed to refute Pro, only make arguments, so that's what I'll do.

However, I have a question for Pro. How are these three examples really related to religious expression of individuals (the redhead example relates but the others do not)? These seem to be more examples of the downsides of having organized religions on a national level. I respectfully ask you to clarify how this is related to religious expression on a more personal level.

My arguments for religious expression are quite simple. I support two philosophies which in turn support the freedom of religious expression:

1. Freedom of Speech

The freedom of speech is quite important, as I think you would agree. After all, in all your examples, if you were to speak out against the movements (Islam, Christianity during the crusades, Japanese government), you would be killed. Freedom of speech is important so that healthy debate and discussion can take place so that change in society, ideologies, etc. can happen. Everyone should have the right to express their opinion.

2. Freedom of Religion

Freedom of religion is another important value, as the ability to choose your belief is something everyone should have. Limiting people's ideologies is pretty oppressive and does not lead to happy members of a society. People should have the right to decide things for themselves.

I believe that these two things are extremely important values in society and I believe that public places are important battlefields for ideologies and opinions. I don't see why public places should be censored to the forum of clashing ideas.
Debate Round No. 2
DebateRefines

Pro

Hi again

Thanks for the points, as well as your excellent question.

I shall start by discussing your arguments of freedom of religion and speech.

In discussing the effect of this law on the freedom of speech, let it be reflected that many democracies function without a constitutional right to free speech. In my country, Australia, we have a functioning and critical press, and an accountable government. However, I believe that this freedom should not be used to cause harm, a belief which is shared by the high court in Schenck V. United States which criminalised speech which created a clear and present danger[1]. In keeping with this, I believe that drawing on previous examples as well as the study of The Vatican listed below, I have proven that organised religion causes enough damage against society as a whole in order for it to be called a clear and present danger. And even if one does not originate from the USA, I would posit that no one truly wants anyone to say anything to anyone anytime. Whether or not the speech causes immediate or long lasting harm, unless the benefit outweighs the damage, a case can be made against free speech. And what does religion give back? Comfort, especially in death, I would argue. But an organised religion does not have a mandate on this; we give it to ourselves.

On your second point, of religious freedom, I cannot argue. Although I disagree with many people, I would never force my opinion of the world onto them by law. And unless it is their specific belief to force their opinions onto others, this law would not affect them. It forces them, in fact, to examine their own beliefs with far greater scrutiny, as they are not continually being assaulted with dogma and commandments from others.

However, I love your point "I believe that public places are important battlefields for ideologies and opinions" and in all else I would completely agree with you. However, as Christopher Hitchens put it "religion is not coming up with any new arguments." Most religions are forced to defend their position against growing evidence and discoveries (see Darwin"s theory of evolution [1]) and have nothing to offer in return. And what proves that this is not a "fair" argument, or battlefield as you would call it, is that many people chose not to defend their perspective based on fact, but on the strength of their belief; and then ask people to respect it. [2] One particularly hideous example of this, is the consist fact of Jehovah"s Witnesses parents refusing blood transfusions to their children. A doctor could make ten reasonable arguments for a blood transfusion in a medical situation, but a religious parson could make only one: that they believe it to be wrong. This is wrong.

Now to my main argument, which I will open by addressing your excellent observation that my example address organised religion, rather than the acts of individuals.

I cannot argue with this observation, as it is quite true. My attack on religious expression is an attack on organised religion, because it is they who are causing the problems. I think you will find that the most vocal religions are the most organised, my prominent example in this case being The Vatican.

This is an institution which has assets of up to 15 billion (tax free)[3], its own recognised country (which was given in order to gain support for the fascist Italian government) and a congregation of 1.2 billion people. This is a very powerful organisation, which had been involved in politics, policy making and public opinion for years. Three examples which indicate that this is not an organisation which should be allowed into the public forum, making policy are: institutionalised child rape[5], the proliferation of AIDS[6] and its system of government, which amounts to a dictatorship.

I believe that I have strongly addressed the points of freedom of religion and speech in my rebuttal, and in combining this with a study of The Vatican, I believe I have provided a strong case against religious expression in public places. At this point, you would point out that in fact I have made a case against organised religion, at which point I would say, where religious expression is involved, these are the same things. Where any charismatic person express" their opinion in public, they will form a religion. It is human nature to follow, and to avoid questioning one"s own actions: best to leave the justifications for an unquestionable text. And if every person followed this dogma, then perhaps we could function well as a society, but an important point that I repeat from my first argument, is that on religion "Its truth notwithstanding, the multitude of religions that exist in the world, most of which theoretically cannot coexist peacefully, demonstrates the need for society to make new laws which make it easier to do so."

Therefore, I believe my proposition actually democratises religion, something which is very uncommon in organised religion. If every person, whatever their spirituality, decide on their own beliefs and dogmas, then every religion is tailored to the needs of the individual, but in a way that doesn"t infringe on the beliefs of others. And furthermore, I believe that freeing people of the tyranny of group-thought will make them a better person, in that they are forced to examine their opinions without constant validation of others around them.

Thank you for reading, and I await your response

[1] http://civil-liberties.yoexpert.com...
[2] http://www.darwins-theory-of-evolution.com...
[3] http://www.religioustolerance.org...
[4] http://content.time.com...
[5] http://www.theguardian.com...
[6] http://churchandstate.org.uk...
superbowl9

Con

Hello and thanks for your arguments. Very eloquent.

I'd like to note that I stand by my pro-freedom-of-speech and anti-censorship views.

REBUTTAL

"In discussing the effect of this law on the freedom of speech, let it be reflected that many democracies function without a constitutional right to free speech. In my country, Australia, we have a functioning and critical press, and an accountable government."

Just because the government and press are functional and work well does not mean that the citizens have all the rights and privileges they should have. The U.S. used to consider slavery legal, and they had a pretty good press and government.

"However, I believe that this freedom should not be used to cause harm, a belief which is shared by the high court in Schenck V. United States which criminalized speech which created a clear and present danger."

I agree, somewhat. The Schenck V. U.S. was cast doubt upon in 1969 in favor of the Brandenburg test. The freedom of speech does not cover any speech which does not pass the Brandenburg test (intent, imminence, and likelihood) [1]. If somebody is organizing a huge party of people so that they can go on a killing spree and is telling the public why they should join this group, they should be convicted. However, if someone is not advocating for participation in illegal activities, just changes to the law (saying "killing should be legal" =/= "I am going to kill") they should be okay. I don't see how advocating for religion to be accepted as an ideology poses an imminent threat of lawless action or how trying to get people to change their views on religion is a clear danger.

"In keeping with this, I believe that drawing on previous examples as well as the study of The Vatican listed below, I have proven that organised religion causes enough damage against society as a whole in order for it to be called a clear and present danger."

I have to disagree. Religion is not necessarily harmful in it of itself, it's more that the morals of some religions are horrible and cause so much death and destruction. It's kind of like how some political philosophies are harmful (killing is right, NAMBLA[2], etc.), but that doesn't mean having a political philosophy is automatically harmful.

"And even if one does not originate from the USA, I would posit that no one truly wants anyone to say anything to anyone anytime."

This is not true. Many people would love to go out and voice their opinions, as this is how ideas form, laws are created and removed, and better ideas come about. Even if this were true, people should still have the right to be heard if they so chose to speak.

"Whether or not the speech causes immediate or long lasting harm, unless the benefit outweighs the damage, a case can be made against free speech."

We don't always know what the long or short-term effects of things will be, and religion is a perfect example. Maybe Jesus did exist and was divine, and accepting Christianity is the most beneficial choice anyone has ever made. Or, maybe Islam is correct and accepting Christianity is the worst idea anyone's ever had. This brings me back to my point that public places are a battleground for opinions and ideas, because every idea should be given a chance. Even ideas that have fundamental flaws should be given the chance to be presented, as these flaws could be resolved through discussion, or the person who had the idea can come to realize the flaws and throw the idea away this is a very important process and is comparable to testing a prototype or early version of a product to see if it stands up to the test.

"And what does religion give back? Comfort, especially in death, I would argue. But an organised religion does not have a mandate on this; we give it to ourselves."

Yes, comfort, and a sense of community. But although I believe that people are giving this comfort to themselves, they believe that god or Jesus (aren't they the same person?) or whatever is giving them comfort, and there is a small chance they could be right. Religion is the trigger for this comfort, so in essence religion is what's comforting these people.

"Most religions are forced to defend their position against growing evidence and discoveries (see Darwin"s theory of evolution ) and have nothing to offer in return. And what proves that this is not a "fair" argument, or battlefield as you would call it, is that many people chose not to defend their perspective based on fact, but on the strength of their belief; and then ask people to respect it. "

It does not have to be a fair fight for the fight to happen, and most battles aren't. Even about this very debate, you say "I'm sorry to be boring, but I'm afraid the argument is genuinely suicidal. I like to jump into the deep end!". There is always the possibility that religious people will come up with a good argument and turn the tables. Even if they don't, some (such as I) can be shown the error of their ways through logic and good points/arguments.

" A doctor could make ten reasonable arguments for a blood transfusion in a medical situation, but a religious parson could make only one: that they believe it to be wrong. This is wrong."

Again, they could be right. What if Jehovah really is there, watching over those kids? That could be the best decision of their lives.

"Where any charismatic person express" their opinion in public, they will form a religion. It is human nature to follow, and to avoid questioning one"s own actions: best to leave the justifications for an unquestionable text. And if every person followed this dogma, then perhaps we could function well as a society, but an important point that I repeat from my first argument, is that on religion "Its truth notwithstanding, the multitude of religions that exist in the world, most of which theoretically cannot coexist peacefully, demonstrates the need for society to make new laws which make it easier to do so."

Many, many people work hard to ensure that the battleground of opinions and ideologies is as level as possible, so that ideas are weighted by their substance, not by who said them or how charismatically they were said. Although there is some bias, the anonymity of the internet allows for people to put their arguments out there and have them be judged for the quality of the arguments, not the quality of the person.

"Therefore, I believe my proposition actually democratises religion, something which is very uncommon in organised religion. If every person, whatever their spirituality, decide on their own beliefs and dogmas, then every religion is tailored to the needs of the individual, but in a way that doesn"t infringe on the beliefs of others. And furthermore, I believe that freeing people of the tyranny of group-thought will make them a better person, in that they are forced to examine their opinions without constant validation of others around them."

I disagree with this paragraph the most. If everyone were to decide for themselves what their religion entailed, there would be nobody to point out the flaws in their beliefs, run different interpretations by them, or present other books or evidence that could otherwise impact the person's view. Not having criticism is a bad thing. Also, if there is nobody telling me I shouldn't take the bible word for word, how do I decide whether or not I should stone gays or discriminate against them? That infringes on the rights of others. Group thoughts are not always constructive, and they are very helpful in the process of creating good ideas. You need other people to see things you can't and fix your ideas.

Sources
1. http://en.wikipedia.org...
1[alternate]. http://www.law.cornell.edu...
2. http://www.nambla.org...
Debate Round No. 3
DebateRefines

Pro

DebateRefines forfeited this round.
superbowl9

Con

Extend my arguments.

Thanks for the debate, Pro.
Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by DebateRefines 2 years ago
DebateRefines
I'm sorry to be boring, but I'm afraid the argument is genuinely suicidal. I like to jump into the deep end!
Posted by 9spaceking 2 years ago
9spaceking
this looks suspicious. How could anyone argue against the freedom of religion? It's either a suicidal debate, or a trap for noob-snipers.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by 9spaceking 2 years ago
9spaceking
DebateRefinessuperbowl9Tied
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Total points awarded:01 
Reasons for voting decision: ff