The Instigator
Redman
Pro (for)
Winning
12 Points
The Contender
SimonZ
Con (against)
Losing
6 Points

The Separation of Church and State.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/15/2007 Category: Religion
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,158 times Debate No: 460
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (10)
Votes (6)

 

Redman

Pro

It is a vague but important term that has been around since the founding of the United States. Some argue it is just that: a term and nothing more. Others argue it is essential to run a democractic government (which is what I believe). So, who wants to take the con and say that we should not have the Separation of Church and State? Fair Warning: You are in for a Steadfast Brawl, with words of course.
SimonZ

Con

Once again I am in favor of separation of Church and State but for argumentative sake I will take a stand for it. I am a Christian man and I do understand the importance of the separation between the two. It is challenging to assess how we should separate the two because, for starters, the definitions for both are vague when seen only as text. However when we begin to assess their contexts, the subject becomes very heated. There are advocates for both side who have very compelling arguments for an assortment of reasons. It is challenging to understand the reasoning behind these peoples' arguments because we first have to understand their background and why they feel obligated to support either side.
The argument that I hear most often is that the Church has no business involving itself with the government. Many people believe that the Church, which does a have a long track record of becoming overly powerful in governmental agendas, will become all-powerful once more if it is allowed to do so. I find this argument fairly one-sided and if I may say so, blind-sided. The Church is an entity in and of itself. A large percent of the population of the United States would consider themselves members of the Church, whichever denomination. It is for this reason that I believe that we cannot simply push the Church away from political activity. Labor unions and corporations hold a large percentage of the population as members as well and due to such a membership, the U.S. government has ruled that they should have a contingency in the running of the State. To ostracize such a large body is the first step in banning religion. First the governing body is removed of power then the members are systematically removed from societal relations as well. This may seem like a stretch but it is fairly reasonable fear for many Americans who consider themselves a part of the organized Church.
We should not begin to cut ties with the Church because the nation as political body is moving in a purely secular motion away from religion. While it is important that we remain separated in structure of government I do not believe that America should completely cut ties with the Church and outlaw its involvement in the policy making of the United States.
I am interested to hear your rebuttal.
Debate Round No. 1
Redman

Pro

Defintion of Religion: a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe. Therefore, it is undeniable that there will be an opposition to the beliefs set forth by this standpoint. We have many theories on the beginning of life, so religion is, by its very nature, controversial. I am not denying the rights of the people to have religious beliefs. However, we are talking about the church directly being involved with the policies and laws the gov't makes. There is more than one sect of christianity: catholic, protestant, lutheran, calvin, baptist, methodist, eastern orthodox, etc. Trying to find one bible to run off, which would then, theoretically, control a gov't is impossible. Now, most groups in the 17th-18th century came to America to escape religious persecution. Men like Thomas More, a statesman in 16th century Englad, were EXECUTED because he would not recognize the king as the head of the church of England (More was catholic). Furthermore, Thomas jefferson is quoted in his autobiography of 1821 as follows, " Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word "Jesus Christ," so that it should read, "a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;" the insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and Infidel of every denomination." The president knew, all in all, that religion could not be a part of gov't. Yes, we were founded by christian men as a theistic gov't (in god we trust). However, it was and still is apparent that religion still must stay a private manner; at the very least, out of gov't influence, so the rights of all religious peoples may be respected, especially for those who are not religious, or athiest.
The fourth word of the definition of religion: beliefs. Beliefs are subjective. They are, at best, guidelines for how we should live and interact within the world around us. On the contrary, what justifies a belief worthy of being made into law over every other individual, "To Hindus, the cow is sacred; to Muslims, it is dinner." Obviously, we need order to the chaos that is life. A set of principles distinguishes man from beast. These principles are important: and they should be developed by a philosophical means. This is the modern era: globlization is in effect and we need to take the lead as the only current superpower. If you want proof how dangerous religion in government is, look at the instability of Iraq in regards to Sunnis and Shittes, and the extremists in our country who, though rare, have killed doctors and bombed abortion clinics, "in the name of god."
If you want proof from the Constitution of the United States of America, look at these three entries: ARTICLE SIX regarding "No Religious test to hold office or a public trust of the United State";
THE FIRST AMENDMENT, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"-point being that any law which pertains to establishing a national religion, which is what one does when they want a federal law that was prompted by the Christian faith, is UNCONSTITUTIONAL.
And lastly, THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT, "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." You abridge the right of an INDIVIDUAL when making a law that is based on Judeo-Christian beliefs. This is the reason why the Ten Commandments should not be in allowed in a court room: how can someone who does not believe in the ten commandments have equal protection under the law? There may be the APPEARENCE of equal protection, but the message is implied well enough to make a statement, as the court could properly and sufficiently function without the commandments.
Bottom Line: the Church is for the private sector and public, as it can voice its opinion on any manner it wishes. Nonetheless, it cannot and must not be allowed to influence any actions the state may take, regardless of how powerful it is and how many people follow it. If we allow that to happen, there will be a substantial number of people and groups who will be denied, "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." If you want an example, look at homosexuals. Regardless of the issue of gay marriage, gays adopting, or civil unions, if fundamental christianity had its way, gays would be ostracized. The Nazis did that. Granted, we do not kill homosexuals as they did. But we do say they are "less" than other people by not giving them, at the very least, economic benefits married couples enjoy. Another topic, another time. We can get along fine without the church's involvement in the government. The Freedom of the people is more important than the chartering of a national religion through laws inside the government, which is what would happen if the Church ran things. If this argument is not substantial enough, I weep for the future of our country. Remember te phrase, "For the land of the Free and the Home of the Brave"? FREE i.e. FREEDOM is the key.
SimonZ

Con

THE FIRST AMENDMENT, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"-point being that any law which pertains to establishing a national religion, which is what one does when they want a federal law that was prompted by the Christian faith, is UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

This point struck a nerve in me. Not in a negative way but for another reason. I am not going to argue for an established national religion. That is wrong and very oppressive. That is not even an acceptable practice in Christianity. Forcing your beliefs onto another person strips them of their individuality and yes, freedom. A major concept in Christianity and Judaism is the ability to choose.
As for the establishment of a national religion by laws established through faith, that cannot be curbed. Just as non-Christians do not want to be singled out because of their religious views, Christians do not want to be singled out either. The current trend today is finding anything religious and making it politically correct. But by doing that are we not impeding on Christian freedoms. If a law was prompted by a group of citizens, who happen to also be Christians, that law can be seen as unconstitutional because they Christian? That seems to impede on freedom more than anything else. If a law is passed at the prompting of people who are Christian then it is still a law prompted by a citizen. Christians should not be singled out or ostracized for their beliefs anymore than a secular person.
By systematically searching and destroying all things Christian so that all things are "fair" is that not impeding on Christians rights to be........Christian? I see this as more of a witch hunt than anything else.
As a country we should adopt policies that are fair and just to as many people as possible. The United States is a very diverse country and no one will ever be happy over any law passed. There will always be a complaint from one group or another. That is why it is the U.S. Government's job to establish laws that it feels will benefit the most amount of people (notice I do not say the majority). You used the example of the Iraqis and their bout with religious views in the government and how it is tearing them apart. I feel the same can be said for us, but it is the non-Christians and the Christians who are battling here. Christians have a right to try and establish laws that they see fit for themselves. It is their right as Americans to do so. It is also the right for non-Christians to do so as well. The battle between the two sides is therefore natural. By establishing an anti-religious state then the religious people lose and vice versa. That is the beauty of the Constitution. It is pointed enough to establish order yet vague enough that it leaves some wiggle room in its interpretation. The founding fathers did not ban religion just as they did not establish one. They knew that by doing either, that it would create problems. That is why, just as it is important not to establish a national religion, it is equally important to not ban religious input. If a law happens to be passed that reflects Christian values, do not single it out because of this. Just as Christians should not single out laws that are non-religious in nature. The main point is that laws should be established that reflect our citizens beliefs not those of different groups. We can throw quotes and textual passages around all we want but it will never make either side correct. Just as neither you or I can ever full convince all who read this that our argument is correct, non-religious and religious people will always contest one another.
People have been arguing over what this separation between Church and State means. It means that the Church should not interfere with the State matters just as the State should not interfere with religious matters. I see the banning of Christian or any other religious law (Judaism and Islam count as church as well), as unconstitutional as well. Therefore, we must find a healthy medium. Some laws will reflect "church" values, others will create a disagreement with some of those values. To completely separate the church and the state is impossible, that is why we should not try because we will always fail and someone's rights will end up being violated. We should just do what is beneficial for our country and stop focusing so much attention on where laws come from. If they help then they should be passed and if they don't, then axe them, no matter what groups prompted them.
Debate Round No. 2
Redman

Pro

Redman forfeited this round.
SimonZ

Con

Let me start off by saying that I agree with you in most respects of your argument. I do not see why the Church, whatever that may be to people, should have a stronghold in government. But I see the current of separating anything related to Church as a form of retaliation. The Church is surely not as strong nor prevalent as it once was and I think certain groups are beginning to see this weakness and exploit, kick a bully while its down if you will. The separation of Church and State should not be a free pass to get in any free punches at the Church as many people seem to be doing. Should the Church control aspects of government, not really. The Church is its own form of government over its own patrons. Whether or not its control over members rubs off into those individuals' politics well that cannot be controlled. If the Church establishes itself as a lobby group, as it historically has, then that is wrong. But we cannot use the "Separation of Church and State" to govern whose votes count depending on their faith. That is what I argue against. The discrimination of Christian voters due to the "Separation of Church and State." If this country continues to allow the removal of all things Christian, then I believe the banning of Christianity will soon follow. This law applies to the rights of Christians to have a say in government just as much as it limits their control.
As for largely debated and controversial topics such as abortion and gay marriage. We can blame the Christian groups for not allowing gay marriage but so far, the majority of people have ruled against allowing it. That is how democracy works, if the majority feels a certain way then that is what must be done. Gay couples have continually argued that they do not see how the government has the right to make gay marriage illegal. Well, here's how that works. The "marriage" they seek is the one recognized by the government and guess what, if the government's policy is to not recognize it the, gay marriage is still not allowable, no matter what dirt, money-grubbing lobby group like the Christians are behind it. I see the Christians as a form of scape goat for any minority that doesn't get what they want. If you can't get something then blame the Christians and their values for not allowing it. Gay marriage is not allowed right now because it would create a real mess of problem in divorce courts, as well as requiring insurance companies and other institutions to reformat how their definition of marriage. Gay couples have repeatedly stated that they could care less whether or not the government allows their marriage, they just want the benefits that heterosexual couples have. The principal of marriage as being between a man and a woman was created by Church based principals. If gay people want to "marry" one another they should create their own form of communion and not borrow Church based principals in order to do so, oh wait, they have, its called a civil union. All the benefits economically but none of the complications of marriage. The government recognizes this but still doesn't allow these unions because they understand how complicated it will make things for all parties (insurance companies, divorce courts, adoptions agencies, etc.) and thus they still don't allow it to be recognized in most states.
I point all this out for one reason. There is a reason for the government making policies that might offend people but its usually (I use this lightly) for a good reason. The government does not allow gay marriage not because it hates gays, they would outlaw gay relations (like the Nazis) if they hated gays, but because it sees the problems that could ensue if it allowed it. Naturally gay rights advocates rush to find fault in this policy and the Christians are the first to come to mind If the power-hungry Christians in government really wanted to eliminate gay relations they would do so. So lets not assume the fault is on Christians just because they don't believe in marriage of homosexuals, there are other more important reasons behind it that are overshadowed by gay hate towards the oppressive Christians who are out to destroy gay people.
Second, my words were misunderstood and a little rushed when I said that we should not look to where laws are created and by whom. What I meant ties a little into my recent argument about gay laws and their origins. Maybe we should look to where laws are based and we'd see that while a Christian politician may have sponsored a law it was not only his faith that led him to do so. Politicians are elected to make laws for us. Some people think they should think only about the public interest and work accordingly without a thought into their own beliefs while other people think that a politician should vote in their own interest for the better meant of society. I am not saying which one is correct but that is how government works. Should there come a time to reform how it works then by all means we should, I do not advocate leaving the government alone to do what it wants without our consent. I do not support an all-powerful government and I believe that is what we have right now. But lets look at what is really the problem instead of trying to get back at the Christians by eliminating them from all offices and removing anything that might be considered Christian from government (historical artifacts at courts or official buildings). The general public is like a perverted doctor who has set out to decipher what ails our country and what we can do to make it better. Unfortunately, this doctor's mom was killed by cancer(Christianity) and he now believes that all sicknesses in patients are cancer and he cannot see other symptoms that may imply other diseases not even related to cancer.
The Separation of Church and State was written intentionally to be vague so that it could be interpreted by future people. I see tremendous benefit in our dialogues about this and a propose we continue to do so. If the people of a country stop thinking and revolutionizing its laws then that country will die. That is why I continue to debate others as a proponent for Christianity. I see Christianity as any other group that could be wronged by hard-headed politicians and groups determined to see its demise. Keep this in mind as you watch the political landscape change in the coming years and how the public begins to react to Christian rights in schools (praying, reading a bible by ones self) and how those rights seem to get trampled in order to protect the "rights" of others.
Debate Round No. 3
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by griffinisright 8 years ago
griffinisright
Good debate, SimonZ I you know your stuff! Not to mention your opponent missed a turn.
Posted by Redman 8 years ago
Redman
Again, I apologize for this, but the site confused me. I have not been on here very long. My argument starts below and goes box by box upward. If you need to, copy and paste the argument onto a word document. Everyone else, please take note that I did make an argument, but debate.org acted very inconsistently. Thank you.
Posted by Redman 8 years ago
Redman
check out this video http://youtube.com...) WATCH IT CAREFULLY. We, as a free people, must always question laws passed, for the people in charge of a nation rely on the stupidty and lethargy of its citizens in order to pass legislation that, everyday, is more binding. The Patriot Act was the beginning: the chip and the national idea card are only steps on a long road towards complete control. WAKE UP SIMON: Please, DO NOT let laws pass unchallenged. If you do, you are a sheep playing into the paws of a wolf.
*There must be the Separation of Church and State. I know I went on a tangent, but I will make it connect here. The main issue with the idea of Church and State is the concept we know as "Church" influencing itself over the "State". There will not be a time in the history of the United States where Church (religion) is abolished: too many people who fear God to do so. However, on the flipside, Church can easily control a government/state. Look at the bloody internal wars fought in England in the Middle to Late Middle Ages over catholic kings and protestant kings. Yes Simon, you are right, quotations only go so far: but historical FACTS are ones we need to learn from. It is irrational on our part to say that a faith, even if regarded as a truth, should take the place of fact in the form of a law which affects everyone, including the people who do not relate to that faith in any way, shape, or form. We must be willing to establish law on the idea that anything which governs our actions must not segregate any population of people based on race, color, sex, culture, ethnicity, or a system of beliefs. All people must have an equal right under each and every law. And I do not see this happening in the future if Christianity is allowed to have a profound influence on the way we make laws and policies in this country. Again, I apologize if you are offended. But I needed to say this.
*That's my argument...It starts below and ends here.
Posted by Redman 8 years ago
Redman
decisions for our future. And we may never convince each other that our point is ontologically true. However, debating, compromising, theorizing and the like is what we MUST do in order to achieve a greater understanding of life and what we want to live by as far as law and order are concerned. Your argument turns narrow sighted when you say that people will "always contest one another." That is how we GROW. If we had no debates regarding all relevant topics, we would blindly conform to the tyrant in charge and follow orders without rebellion. We cannot stop debating about these topics: that is the point of this website. And it is the essence of what makes us a democractic society. Because I will tell you this right now: you cannot have nearly a fraction of the descent we have in this country if you lived in, lets say, Saudi Arabia, or North Korea. You would be killed: period. Remember that debating MUST continue, always and forever.
*My second point on this matter tackles your statement, "We should just do what is beneficial for our country". What is beneficial? Taxes? High taxes? Low taxes? No taxes? Gun control? No gun control? Isolationism? Globalism? My fundamental question here asks what is beneficial and who decides it is so. Congress? You know they are run by lobbyists and what will help them win their next election, so you cannot leave it up to them.
*My third point references your thought about this idea, "Stop focusing where laws come from" (paraphrasing). I will do no such thing! That is called ignorance Simon. PURE IGNORANCE. Pardon me for being an active transcendentalist, but I REFUSE TO STOP FOCUSING ON WHERE LAWS COME FROM. Are you serious? That is exactly what the government wants us to do. "Don't worry, we are just making a new national identity card for everyone in the country: it's for your national security"; "This chip implanted in everyone is for the safety of future generations of Americans" (if you do not know about "the chip"...
Posted by Redman 8 years ago
Redman
and I am not currently in the mindset or thought processes to institute a Communist society.
*The reason I use Gay Marriage and Civil Unions frequently in this debate is because of their perfect essence of being examples of why religion can really turn a democratic government into a tyranny. You can say and think that you BELIEVE that homosexuality is wrong, for whatever reason you may have against it: but you do not push the idea so far as to try to make it a law which states that gay marriage is illegal. You talk about being ostracized for your beliefs, with regards to Christianity and government? How about the symbolic act of being shoved into a corner, away from the rest of society, being reminded, by law, every single day this idea, "You are an American, and a citizen. However, you are homosexual and we do not tolerate that type of behavior. So, as a consequence of your immorality, you will be denied life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, one of your fundamental rights"? Do you see my point? I want people to realize something. First off, the NAZIS ostracized the Gays: then killed them, by dehumanizing them. Secondly, the Christians in the mainstream media of the United States do no approve of homosexuality. And whether you support them or not, they are a majortity that, frightenedly so, possess an idea that is not, in anyway, "Fair and Just".
*I want to quote you, with a few lines and address what you said. Here are a few lines you stated, "We can throw quotes and textual passages around all we want but it will never make either side correct. Just as neither you or I can ever full convince all who read this that our argument is correct, non-religious and religious people will always contest one another.....We should just do what is beneficial for our country and stop focusing so much attention on where laws come from."
*I will get right to the point. You are right on a couple things: quotations only go so far, where after we the people must make...
Posted by Redman 8 years ago
Redman
*Ok. If this gets personal, I apologize in advance. But I am going to speak, because your argument, though heartfelt, is missing the major point, I believe.
*Christians, just like anyone else, do have the right to make their voice heard and pass laws they believe are correct. From this standpoint, my argument shifts for a second to say this: it is intolerable to make an attempt to pass laws based on a faith alone, which is different from a fact. Christianity is a faith (more importantly a set of beliefs). There are many different types of beliefs in the world across cultural and religious divides: but certain FACTS remain true no matter what instance someone is in. Fact: gravity exists and you can prove this by letting go of any object in your hand, where it proceeds to hit the ground. My point here says that you are talking about a faith and not a concrete fact. I often hear many "Christians" say the bible is the word of god. We had the point before state there are plenty bibles to choose from. Church is a direct representation of Christianity, the bible and every other aspect of the religion itself. Because there are so many faiths/sects of Christianity, we would never be able to agree upon most issues that are to be, or are desired to be, passed into law. Some Christians believe that abortion is wrong, while others believe it is necessary. Which is right? That begins an argument over who "real" Christians are, and what they believe and that is a different debate for another time.
*I also want to make laws in America that are fair to as many people as possible: that's why Gay Marriage, or at the very least Civil Unions, should be legalized. Remember, you said "fair and just": is justice served when a minority population in the country with the "most freedom" in the world is told that they are not entitled to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness?
*I am not talking about making a non-religious state my friend: that kind of government is called Communism,
Posted by Redman 8 years ago
Redman
Ok, I figured it out, I am going to post this in segments on here. I have 7,928 words written, so thats 4 comments. Read the next Four and consider that my rebuttal, since this system is incapable. thanks Simon.
Posted by Redman 8 years ago
Redman
Goddamnit. I wrote a response and somehow it did not post. By the time i realized it had not posted, it was too late. This blows. Simon, I have a response to your response. I guess I will just use it in round 3, if I am allowed to post during that round. Damn.
Posted by aremisasling 8 years ago
aremisasling
I think the establishment clause adequately frames the concept of 'Separation of Church and State' though it never uses those words. I think it's used largely because it's quicker and easier than actually reciting Amend. 1. I don't think it's at all debatable that the establishment clause expressly forbids the recognition of any one religion as a state religion, which essentially makes it impossible for a religion to be the official guiding force for a nation. It may not be an explicit violation, but it is certainly implicit if it is the primary inspiration. It's like a puppet theocracy.

Aremis
Posted by impactyourworld89 8 years ago
impactyourworld89
Quick question, and I would like one of you to answer this in the final round. Where did you find the phrase "Separation of Church and State"?
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griffinisright
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