The Instigator
TheSkeptic
Pro (for)
Losing
46 Points
The Contender
CiRrO
Con (against)
Winning
69 Points

The Current Pledge of Allegiance is Unconstitutional.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/24/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,754 times Debate No: 5125
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (21)
Votes (24)

 

TheSkeptic

Pro

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Unconstitutional

un�con�sti�tu�tion�al
–adjective
not constitutional; unauthorized by or inconsistent with the constitution, as of a country.

http://dictionary.reference.com...
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As is evident, I am arguing that the Pledge of Allegiance of the United States of America is unconstitutional in it's sanctioning of a religion. I contend that this is a clear violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The particular part I point out as unconstitutional is the induction of the two bittersweet words, "under God". For a nation to be brought up on secular foundations, a step forward will be to remove this phrase.

I would now leave it up to my opponent to give me arguments of why this phrase is constitutional. I look forward to this debate :D
CiRrO

Con

I will present my own case, then refute my opponents.

I negate: The Current Pledge of Allegiance is Unconstitutional.

Justification: Maintaining Consistency within the Justice System is necessary to achieve constitutionality.

I agree to his posed definitions.

[Contentions]

Contention I: Reasoning behind the "Under God" clause in the Pledge of Allegiance.

This clause was added in the 1950's for a specific reason. As most people know, the 1950's was a height of the cold war. the USSR at that time was an atheist country. The US wanted to shows the world that it was a haven for all religions, and all people looking for religious freedom. The clause "Under God" was intended, by the administration, and the Supreme Court to be a general clause including all religions. E.g. Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism (In some sects of Buddhism Buddha is considered their God), Hindu (Brhaman is their universal main God, the creator). Essentially all religions have one main deity, that they see as their main God. "Under God" is an umbrella of all these religions, setting up a haven in the US of religious freedom. Therefore, to uphold the Constitution, of protecting religious freedom of everybody, and to show that the US is the place to be free from religious persecution, the clause ought to remain in the Pledge.

Contention II: Maintaining Judicial Consistency.

Whenever the Supreme Court is given with this case, most of the time an appeal because of the 9th Circuit Court says it is unconstitutional, they strike it down because they maintain that it is constitutional. (Reason: contention I) They go further to say that since Atheism is not a religion, and you do not practice religion, atheism does not have a right to claim what a religious person has the right to say or not. Furthermore, they do not have a right to say that the government must remain a totally secular institution. Since the Supreme Court has claimed it constitutional, we must remain consistent within judicial limits.

I'll now refute my opponents case.

"As is evident, I am arguing that the Pledge of Allegiance of the United States of America is unconstitutional in it's sanctioning of a religion. I contend that this is a clear violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The particular part I point out as unconstitutional is the induction of the two bittersweet words, "under God". For a nation to be brought up on secular foundations, a step forward will be to remove this phrase."

My Response: The Establishment Clause can interpreted in either 2 ways. I will show how both interpretations do not make the clause unconstitutional.

1)the establishment of a national religion by Congress

--> The clause does not make any religion a national religion. A national religion is one sanctioned by the government, can receives greater aid from the government, i.e. from taxes. This clause does not make any religion a national religion.

2) the preference of one religion over another or the support of a religious idea with no identifiable secular purpose.

--> As I have brought up in my contention I, the purpose of the clause was to encompass all religions, not just one. It does not support any specific religion at all. Just because my opponent may think ti does, does not make that an inherent truth. Furthermore, it claims "with no identifiable secular purpose." As was the foremost reason: To make a distinction between us and the USSR and any other Communist, who were atheist. The secular purpose was, to uphold religious freedom, and to show the international community that the US is indeed a nation that has all religions. It does not support just one, and it is not an atheist country, like those of communism.

For my presented case, and rebuttal, I urge a negation.

Thank you ladies and gentlemen.
Debate Round No. 1
TheSkeptic

Pro

Refutation to Contention 1:

During the 1950s matters worsened as people became more and more afraid of the communists. Many people were persecuted, denied work, and even jailed for no other reason but that they allegedly had Communist leanings. In an effort to link national unity with opposition to "godless communism," the Knights of Columbus ("Strong Right Arm of the Church") campaigned to have the words "under God" added to the Pledge. For awhile, the Knights of Columbus couldn't get their revision of the Pledge to come through, until during a speech in June 1954, was President Dwight Eisenhower present and eventually convinced.

Freedom of religion also means freedom from religion. The word's "under God" create a conflict with atheists/agnostics/etc. Anyone who does not profess a monotheistic religion are obviously not addressed under this term. What if the pledge put "under Allah" or "under Brahma"? There would be a religious uproar amongst the Christian and other religious denominations across the country. Yet this phrase is so blatantly endorsing any monotheistic religion and not those who are not monotheistic.

Refutation to Contention 2:

Everyone knows of the famous case brought by the atheist Michael Newdow. He challenged the court that the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional in its endorsement of monotheistic religions. It passed in the 9th Circuit Court, but the Supreme Court struck this down because Michael Newdow was not the custodial parent of his 2nd grade daughter. This obviously doesn't address the merit of whether or not the Pledge of Allegiance is constitutional or not, they just dodged the bullet.

The political principle of separation of church and state obviously conflict with the phrase "under God", as it is clearly endorsing monotheism.

"Since the Supreme Court has claimed it constitutional, we must remain consistent within judicial limits. "

The court has never squarly addressed the subject yet. As I've said, the closest was the Michael Newdow case, during which they did not address the constitutional question raised by the case.

"As I have brought up in my contention I, the purpose of the clause was to encompass all religions, not just one. It does not support any specific religion at all. Just because my opponent may think ti does, does not make that an inherent truth. Furthermore, it claims "with no identifiable secular purpose." As was the foremost reason: To make a distinction between us and the USSR and any other Communist, who were atheist. The secular purpose was, to uphold religious freedom, and to show the international community that the US is indeed a nation that has all religions. It does not support just one, and it is not an atheist country, like those of communism."

What could the indentifiable secular purpose be of endorsing monotheistic religions against the views of nonreligious/polytheistic/deistic denominations?
CiRrO

Con

"Freedom of religion also means freedom from religion."

I strongly disagree, I shall quote the 1st Amendment.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

--> The only part of the constitution that guarantees freedom from religion is in terms of a national religion. One clause does not establish a national rleigion. Extend my definition of a national religion from round 1. Furthermore, your statement has no constitutional warrant, in the way you are addressing, "freedom from religion."

"The word's "under God" create a conflict with atheists/agnostics/etc. Anyone who does not profess a monotheistic religion are obviously not addressed under this term. What if the pledge put "under Allah" or "under Brahma"? There would be a religious uproar amongst the Christian and other religious denominations across the country. Yet this phrase is so blatantly endorsing any monotheistic religion and not those who are not monotheistic."

--> I'm guessing my opponent skipped half of what I said. I will quote from my first round.

"The clause "Under God" was intended, by the administration, and the Supreme Court to be a general clause including all religions. E.g. Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism (In some sects of Buddhism Buddha is considered their God), Hindu (Braham is their universal main God, the creator). Essentially all religions have one main deity, that they see as their main God. "Under God" is an umbrella of all these religions, setting up a haven in the US of religious freedom."

As you can see, my opponent missed what I said. The word God encompasses all main deities of religions. Furthermore he brings up atheists and agnostics. From what the 1st Amendment claims, you are protected if you have a religion. Atheism is the way of no religion and no deity. Essentially, by claiming that it violates their 1st Amendment rights, they are indirectly violating the rights of people who do practice religious beliefs.

"Everyone knows of the famous case brought by the atheist Michael Newdow. He challenged the court that the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional in its endorsement of monotheistic religions. It passed in the 9th Circuit Court, but the Supreme Court struck this down because Michael Newdow was not the custodial parent of his 2nd grade daughter. This obviously doesn't address the merit of whether or not the Pledge of Allegiance is constitutional or not, they just dodged the bullet."

--> Ok, I agree this is the most famous. However to maintain consistency we must remain with the decision. However, according to the Supreme Court the clause is indeed constitutional. It was not stated during the case, but was of outside. I.e. when asked by the press, etc. Thus, to maintain judicial consistency, the clause should remain.

"The political principle of separation of church and state obviously conflict with the phrase "under God", as it is clearly endorsing monotheism."

--> This is my opponents unwarranted opinion. It should be left up to the Supreme to decide. Furthermore, it does not only endorse monotheism, as proven by my first contention.

W"hat could the indentifiable secular purpose be of endorsing monotheistic religions against the views of nonreligious/polytheistic/deistic denominations?"

--> Again, my opponent hasn't truly read what I written. The secular purpose is to show that the US is indeed a place of religious freedom. The government is making a stamp that this is a haven for religious tolerance. This goes against the teachings of communism, forced upon members of societies brought down with a fist against religion.

Thank you ladies and gentlemen.

**[Aff. Burden]

I would like to point out that my opponent has yet to make a warranted substantial case affirming the resolution. He looks to me to disprove, however he has the aff. burden. This is a drastic reason for a negation if he doesn't meet his burden.
Debate Round No. 2
TheSkeptic

Pro

Freedom of religion and Freedom from religion are two sides of the same coin. Religious liberty must simultaneously protect both the right to be religious and the right not to be religious at all. When applied to politics, this means that we are to be free from any government imposition of religion. So when the it says that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, this also means that Congress shall make no law that will impose a certain religion upon others. In the case of the Pledge of Allegiance, it is imposing monotheism upon all the others who are not.

For the sake of argument, let's suppose that what my opponent said was the intention of the inclusion of "Under God" was true. However, my opponent fails to realize that their are many other minority religions without a deity or with numerous deities. Thus, the phrase "Under God" cannot compensate for the other denominations.

"From what the 1st Amendment claims, you are protected if you have a religion."

---No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.---

=> This excerpt from the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom clearly show's how the wall of separation is intended. The Establishment Clause applies to religious folks and atheists.

Five of the eight voiced no opinion as to the validity of the suit but instead ruled only on standing.

"Again, my opponent hasn't truly read what I written. The secular purpose is to show that the US is indeed a place of religious freedom. The government is making a stamp that this is a haven for religious tolerance. This goes against the teachings of communism, forced upon members of societies brought down with a fist against religion."

The government is making a stamp that this is a haven for religious tolerance...by endorsing religion over the preferences of nonreligious people? Hardly what I would call religious tolerance. It shows an obviously favoring side to monotheism, not every religion such as polytheism. I have also shown that the Establishment Clause is relevant to nonreligious people, and thus this means that the Pledge of Allegiance endorses monotheism while not polytheism and atheists/agnostics.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The reason why the current Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional is due to the insertion of "under God". Such a phrase is an imposition of monotheism, and excludes polytheism, deism, and nonreligion. I have shown that atheists are relevant to the Establishment Clause in my arguments that have been stated.
CiRrO

Con

For my final round I will address the main points.
These 2 voting issues are from the Neg. side of the flow.

1) Purpose

From what I have clearly proven; the "Under God" Clause encompasses all religions. That was the purpose. My opponent keeps on repeating that there are other religions without deities. A religion means you believe in a higher power. That higher power can be claimed as a god. "Under God", includes all major deities. Furthermore, my opponent has failed to bring up any denomination that doesn't have a main deity. His attack is unwarranted. Make this the first voting issue.

2)Mainitaing Judicial Conssitency

He has dropped this point in his last round. Extend my reasons from the 2nd round. This is the 2nd voting issue.

3)"The reason why the current Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional is due to the insertion of "under God". Such a phrase is an imposition of monotheism, and excludes polytheism, deism, and nonreligion. I have shown that atheists are relevant to the Establishment Clause in my arguments that have been stated."

--> I have clearly proven this to be false. Reasons listed above. Essentially my opponent has an unwarranted case. He doesn't actually prove anything by his statements. They are merely assertions. For that reason, this is my 3 voting issue. Lack of warranted evidence to uphold the affirmative burden.

for these reasons I urge a negation.
Debate Round No. 3
21 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by debatefan01 7 years ago
debatefan01
no matter what you say you still can only point to 3 of the founding fathers.

I cite many more than those three who were christian....
Posted by jjmd280 7 years ago
jjmd280
Not to bore anyone, but here are some more facts about the Founding Fathers and their religious beliefs -
http://www.skeptically.org...
http://www.infidels.org...

debatefan01 - Copypasta reduces your argument to plagiarism. If you have your own position, use it. If you want to quote from a website, fine - but give credit where credit is due. NO ONE is dumb enough here to think that is your work.
Posted by jjmd280 7 years ago
jjmd280
"The Christian right is trying to rewrite the history of the United States as part of its campaign to force its religion on others. They try to depict the founding fathers as pious Christians who wanted the United States to be a Christian nation, with laws that favored Christians and Christianity.

This is patently untrue. The early presidents and patriots were generally Deists or Unitarians, believing in some form of impersonal Providence but rejecting the divinity of Jesus and the absurdities of the Old and New testaments.

Thomas Paine was a pamphleteer whose manifestos encouraged the faltering spirits of the country and aided materially in winning the war of Independence:
I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of...Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all."

George Washington, the first president of the United States, never declared himself a Christian according to contemporary reports or in any of his voluminous correspondence. Washington Championed the cause of freedom from religious intolerance and compulsion. When John Murray (a universalist who denied the existence of hell) was invited to become an army chaplain, the other chaplains petitioned Washington for his dismissal. Instead, Washington gave him the appointment. On his deathbed, Washinton uttered no words of a religious nature and did not call for a clergyman to be in attendance.
Posted by jjmd280 7 years ago
jjmd280
Mine ( http://www.heavingdeadcats.com... )

James Madison

(1751-1836) The fourth President of the United States

* The civil government … functions with complete success … by the total separation of the Church from the State.
* Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize, every expanded prospect.
* What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; in many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient allies.
* During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.
Posted by jjmd280 7 years ago
jjmd280
debatefan01 - I can copypasta, too!
Yours - ( http://www.johnnyleeclary.com... )
Mine (

Several of the Founding Fathers of the United States were Freethinkers, even Atheists. I've collected a small sampling of quotes from them. When faced with the tired argument that America was founded as a christian nation, this is a primer on refuting that lie.

Benjamin Franklin

(1706-1790) American public official, writer, scientist, and printer who played a major part in the American Revolution

* I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life I absented myself from Christian assemblies.
* They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
* The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason: The Morning Daylight appears plainer when you put out your Candle.
* Lighthouses are more helpful than churches.

John Adams
(1735-1826) Second President of the United States

* I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved — the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!
* What havoc has been made of books through every century of the Christian era? Where are fifty gospels condemned as spurious by the bull of Pope Gelasius? Where are forty wagon-loads of Hebrew manuscripts burned in France, by order of another pope, because of suspected heresy? Remember the Index Expurgato-rius, the Inquisition, the stake, the axe, the halter, and the guillotine; and, oh! horrible, the rack! This is as bad, if not worse, than a slow fire. Nor should the Lion's Mouth be forgotten. Have you considered that system of holy lies and pious frauds that has raged and triumphed for 1,500 years.

Thomas Jefferson
(1743-1826) The third President of the United States

* Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the common law.
* The clergy, by getting themselves establish
Posted by debatefan01 7 years ago
debatefan01
How about our first Supreme Court Justice, John Jay? He stated that when we select our national leaders, if we are to preserve our Nation, we must select Christians. "Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian Nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers."

John Quincy Adams, son of John Adams, was the sixth U.S. President. He was also the chairman of the American Bible Society, which he considered his highest and most important role. On July 4, 1821, President Adams said, "The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity."

Calvin Coolidge, our 30th President of the United States reaffirmed this truth when he wrote, "The foundations of our society and our government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country."

In 1782, the United States Congress voted this resolution: "The Congress of the United States recommends and approves the Holy Bible for use in all schools."

William Holmes McGuffey is the author of the McGuffey Reader, which was used for over 100 years in our public schools with over 125 million copies sold until it was stopped in 1963. President Lincoln called him the "Schoolmaster of the Nation." Listen to these word of Mr. McGuffey: "The Christian religion is the religion of our country. >From it are derived our nation, on the character of God, on the great moral Governor of the universe. On its doctrines are founded the peculiarities of our free Institutions. From no source has the author drawn more conspicuously than from the sacred Scriptures. From all these extracts from the Bible, I make no apology."

Of the first 108 universities founded in America, 106 were distinctly Chri
Posted by debatefan01 7 years ago
debatefan01
Consider these words from George Washington, the Father of our Nation, in his farewell speech on September 19, 1796:

"It is impossible to govern the world without God and the Bible. Of all the dispositions and habits that lead to political prosperity, our religion and morality are the indispensable supporters. Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that our national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."

Was George Washington a Christian? Consider these words from his personal prayer book: "Oh, eternal and everlasting God, direct my thoughts, words and work. Wash away my sins in the immaculate blood of the lamb and purge my heart by the Holy Spirit. Daily, frame me more and more in the likeness of thy son, Jesus Christ, that living in thy fear, and dying in thy favor, I may in thy appointed time obtain the resurrection of the justified unto eternal life. Bless, O Lord, the whole race of mankind and let the world be filled with the knowledge of thy son, Jesus Christ."

James Madison, the primary author of the Constitution of the United States, said this: "We have staked the whole future of our new nation, not upon the power of government; far from it. We have staked the future of all our political constitutions upon the capacity of each of ourselves to govern ourselves according to the moral principles of the Ten Commandments."

Consider these words by John Adams, our second president, who also served as chairman of the American Bible Society.

In an address to military leaders he said, "We have no government armed with the power capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and true religion. Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

How about our first Supreme Court Justice, John Jay? He stated that when we select ou
Posted by debatefan01 7 years ago
debatefan01
Did you know that 52 of the 55 signers of "The Declaration of Independence" were orthodox, deeply committed, Christians? The other three all believed in the Bible as the divine truth, the God of scripture, and His personal intervention. It is the same Congress that formed the American Bible Society, immediately after creating the Declaration of Independence, the Continental Congress voted to purchase and import 20,000 copies of Scripture for the people of this nation.

Patrick Henry, who is called the firebrand of the American Revolution, is still remembered for his words, "Give me liberty or give me death"; but in current textbooks, the context of these words is omitted. Here is what he actually said: "An appeal to arms and the God of hosts is all that is left us. But we shall not fight our battle alone. There is a just God that presides over the destinies of nations. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone. Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it Almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death."

The following year, 1776, he wrote this: "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great Nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For that reason alone, people of other faiths have been afforded freedom of worship here."

Consider these words that Thomas Jefferson wrote in the front of his well-worn Bible: "I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus. I have little doubt that our whole country will soon be rallied to the unity of our creator." He was also the chairman of the American Bible Society, which he considered his highest and most important role.
Posted by brian_eggleston 7 years ago
brian_eggleston
Congratulations to both parties on an excellent and fascinating debate.

I don't mean to trivialise this discussion, but I remember when I was a a Cub Scout I had to repeat the following oath:

On my honour, I promise that I will do my best,
To do my duty to God and to the Queen,
To help other people,
And to keep the Scout Law.

Even though I was very young, I resented that as I didn't believe in God and I thought the Queen was an over-privileged toff (aristocrat).

Religion is not relevant to politics, when it is involved, it is rarely helpful; usually divisive. I'm not an American, and I know you guys are a LOT more religious than British folks, but doesn't the Pledge of Allegiance's reference to God seem just a little bit out of date now?
Posted by jjmd280 7 years ago
jjmd280
Observing a strict separation of church and state offends nobody.
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