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

The pitcher of the 10 commandments should not be taken down nor edited from Giles county school.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/1/2012 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,656 times Debate No: 23866
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (14)
Votes (1)




I don't think any of the terms in the resolution need time wasted on definitions, I did not make it complicated, its not vague, I trust we all understand what it specifically means to be Pro or Con to it.
So let me just start with a link to bring up to speed my opponent and the readers of this debate on the current event controversies of my own home I like to call "Appalachia", the southwest Va part of Appalachia specifically. Needless to say the things affecting Giles County hit pretty close to home to me and others living in Pulaski County.
The ACLU has come in an decided to file a lawsuit against Giles County schools for having a pitcher of the 10 commandments displayed. The school board had taken them down in response but after a protest from practically ever parent and student and just all the other people that live in Giles County the school board decided to put the pitcher back up. Now the issue has been raised again with the approach of allowing the pitcher to stay up as long as the commandments that mention God are taken out, leaving just 6 commandments on display with other documents like the Declaration and the Constitution.
These are my defenses to support Giles County School boards choice to not take the pitcher of the 10 commandments down.
Defense 1: It is indeed just a pitcher we are talking about
Being just a pitcher its not some state endorsement of a religion. Atheist students can in fact just walk by it and not be affected. The curriculum is not different. Your grades do not hinge on having faith of some kind in those 10 commandments, you don't get expelled for not proclaiming they come from a real god or the right god. It is at the end of the day just a decoration. Even if were displayed alone by itself it should not cause quarrel, after all elementary school have displayed up all over there walls all the time made up prissy sayings, chants, and codes for the children to read and maybe be inspired by. The 10 C are not that different from those there just much older.
Defense 2 : They are displayed in Context
Even if we make the leap that somehow just an innocent pitcher can cause all by itself painfull persecution on your freedom of beliefs, as if somehow seeing it in the school reminded how your views are not considered mainstream and you have to take that as an insult weather its true or not. The fault is all on you for reading too much into that pitcher when you see it displayed in context with other historic documents. Its clearly just an artistic show of the history of “the Law” and the founding’s of the country and its influences.
Defense 3: Editing does not make sense
It would not make sense to take out the first 4 commandments in the pitcher particularly given defense #2. It would no longer be of a historic document but just… a chunk of a document. The censorship would add no purpose to the display nor enrich it. this is just a theatrical suggestion by the ACLU to make a point. As long as were fighting for those why not instead display beside the 10 commandments a pitcher of Buddha, the Quran, the book of Mormon, Japanese Oni, and the Egyptian river god Tineel. Surely this would remove all suggestion of the “State” endorsing a religion and the ACLU would drop there lawsuit. But that wouldn’t occur because there lawsuit is not truly in the interest of making equal ground for people of different beliefs, they just want to assault the presence of anything explicitly Christian visible in public sight. If you have to edit the first 4 out you might as well take it completely down. Same would go if you just kept the first 4 commandments and displayed none of the more secular sounding ones. It removes the whole historic purpose of the display.
Defense 4: Local Identity.
One of the links just brushed this issue off like it was a distraction to the controversy but it should not be forgotten. There is outrage from the community on a very very large scale in Giles and outside of Giles over the notion of taking a pitcher down that they all love just because some people that don’t even live here have found out about it and don’t like. Its none of the ACLU’s business or Uncle Sam’s what the local school privately chooses to hang on his walls. All schools have some kind of displays or taxidermy that celebrate local cultural identity. If makes you uncomfortable to see that identity was chosen to take the form of a stuffed Cougar, well tough, its what your county chose. Maybe you got a vote or a rep or a chance to be a rep but at the end of the day you have to accept the whole of the public are not yours to boss around. If they are okay with the pitcher and even take pride in it, you really ought to just leave it be, and more importantly leave US be.


Thanks to Marauder for proposing the topic before us, it should be a good debate.

Religious Liberty

The display of the Ten Commandments on state property is one of the most contentious and frequently litigated First Amendment issues in recent years. It is fairly common knowledge that the First Amendment contains two Religion Clauses: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." [1]

The First Amendment clearly imposes a constitutional mandate of strict separation between church and state. The Establishment Clause, for example, prohibits not only government favoritism of religion, but also government actions "respecting" an establishment of religion.

What does this have to do with the Ten Commandments? In Stone v. Graham, The U.S. Supreme Court's initial foray into the Ten Commandments controversy, the Court recognized the Ten Commandments are an "instrument of religion," an "undeniably sacred text in the Jewish and Christian faiths, and no legislative recitation of a supposed secular purpose can blind us to that fact" [2]. Hence, the Court found that the Commandmens are predominantly religious in nature.

The Court explained that the Ten Commandments are plainly religious because they "do not confine themselves to arguably secular matters, such as honoring one's parents, killing or murder, adultery, stealing," but rather, "the first part of the Commandments concerns the religious duties of believers: worshipping the Lord God alone, avoiding idolatry, not using the Lord's name in vain, and observing the Sabbath Day" [2].

A display of the Ten Commandments on state property is therefore a violation of the First Amendment, as it shows governmental favoritism for the Judeo-Christian God. It is for this reason that the pitcher of the Ten Commandments should be taken down from Giles county school, or edited to exclude the explicitly religious language of the Commandments.

Re: "It is just a pitcher we are talking about"

Marauder claims that the pitcher will not "affect" the people who walk by it. But any reasonable observer would notice the government's purpose to favor the Judeo-Christian God. The Ten Commandments begin as follows: "I AM the LORD thy God," and continues, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." The religious nature of the pitcher should be clear to any student who walks by it.

The problem is not only that the pitcher communicates a religious message, but that it favors the Judeo-Christian faith over others. The purpose and effect of the pitcher is thus to advance sectarianism, as it intentionally promotes adherence to one faith over another, or adherence to religious over non-religion.

Marauder claims it is "just" a pitcher, but this point is irrelevant - the fact that the government displays the Ten Commandments on state property demonstrates a purpose to favor religion. And by showing a purpose to favor religion, as the Supreme Court points out in Lynch v. Donelly, the government sends the message to nonadherents "that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders, favored members" [3].

Re: "They are displayed in Context"

Marauder says it is the "fault" of nonadherents for "reading too much into the pitcher when you see it displayed in context with other historic documents." I disagree - the pitcher provides no reasonable connection between God and the historic documents it is surrounded by. The context provided does not provide a basis for establishing a secular purpose or secular effect to the pitcher.

The pitcher clearly commands a preference for religion over irreligion, and there is no reason to believe it is the "fault" of nonadherents for feeling like "outsiders." Marauder claims the pitcher is "clearly just an artistic show," but the Ten Commandments are not a work of art nor do they refer to any event in the history of the United States. I seriously doubt a reasonable observer can ignore the plainly religious nature of the pitcher, including a command to believe in the Judeo-Christian God.

Re: "Editing does not make sense"

Marauder's argument does not justify the explicitly religious nature of the first four Commandments. The problem with Marauder's argument is that it insists that the Ten Commandments have historic value, but in doing so, Marauder ignores the actual history of the United States. Our country is founded on the idea, reached after years of religious war, that individual liberty requires a religious tolerance that respects the religous views of all citizens.

The purpose of the Establishment Clause was to prevent the government from favoring one faith over another, or of favoring religion over non-religion. The religious nature of the Commandments, however, violates the Establishment Clause, which is central to the foundation of our country. Marauder attempts to defend the pitcher with an appeal to history, but the actual history of our nation is one of religious tolerance, not religious favoritism.

Re: "Local identity"

Marauder says it is not the business of government to determine what the "local school privately chooses to hang on its walls." The problem with this argument is that it assumes Giles county school is a private school - private schools are allowed to hang whatever they want on the walls - but Giles county school is a public school. And public schools are a reflection of the government.

True, public schools are allowed to reflect the local identity of the community, but there are limits. If a public school wanted to display a commandment to steal because it was located in a community where stealing was part of the local identity, the government would have a problem with that, because it directly conflicts with the law. Likewise, if a public school wanted to reflect the atheism of the local community by favoring non-religion, the government would have a problem with that, too.

The point is, public schools are state property, and state property is not supposed to reflect or condemn anyone's religious views. The pitcher of the Ten Commandments favors the Judeo-Christian God, and therefore, it is unconstitutional. And Giles county school, regardless of its local identity, is within the United States - which means it the Constitution applies.
Debate Round No. 1


Before I start on rebuttals, I’d like to start one new argument that just screams out at me after reading my opponents case and seeing an obvious contradiction which is just funny that it exist in these debates.

Likewise, if a public school wanted to reflect the atheism of the local community by favoring non-religion, the government would have a problem with that, too.”

“The context provided does not provide a basis for establishing a secular purpose or secular effect to the pitcher”

is not imposing secular purposes the favoring of non-religion or atheism by definition? So really your causing the state to do just what you say they should have a problem with. Cause you just admitted atheism and non-religion itself are part of what “cant be favored” in our schools.

Anyway…..rebuttal time

“They show Government favoritism of Judo-Christian religion”

As tyanical and controlling our teachers and principals can sometimes seem, its important we remember they are not our government. It was “the school board” who made a choice to put up the photo. While as a board they are a governing body much like the state I did not get to elect a single member that’s on it cause that’s not how they work, and so they are not the strictly speaking the state. The State pays for there institution provides the standards they are to meet. Tell me if I give $30,000 to Mitt Romney’s campain does that mean I get to order him to shave the hair off his head cause I think that image works better for him as a canadite?

“sends the message to nonadherents "that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community,”

Wow… you have to read waaaayyy to much into that pitcher for all that to come out of it. If I put you next to the average kid in Giles County school to walk through the hall with the display and you said “this here is a clear message the school is trying to tell me that I’m an outsider, I’m not really one of the rest of you, not completely part of the community so long as I’m an atheist” they would start backing away from you slowy thinking you’re insane and paranoid. Weather its of an Icon or not that’s simply way to freakin much to read into a pitcher you see on the wall. You kind of deliberately have to overthink the sight of it to think it’s a message to say that.

And if your in doubt that you could have a paranoid sort of mind that’s got you looking to deep into the pitcher (and I’m not criticizing, my personality is prone to paranoia too) just look to the schoolboards actual official statements on the purpace to read the plane face value meaning of why the put the pitcher up. Part of the history of democracy is how its roots were affected by iconic stone tablets. If the pitcher ment all that other stuff the school board would just say “we want the students to know wich are really one of the rest of us and wich are not”

Also even if we are to go as far and say the pitcher sends the message “your not one of us” this does not cause “favoritism” of a religion because individuality is as glorified, and valued (if not more so) as “fitting in”. So to point out a person is different would be…to point out no consequential thing.

Pitcher provides no reasonable connection with surrounding photos…

Again, these are just pitchers in a hallway. No hallway displays are made to replace reading an actual textbook, so if you don’t get why it fits in with the rest go google it.

“I seriously doubt a reasonable observer can ignore the plainly religious nature of the pitcher”

“The problem with Marauder's argument is that it insists that the Ten Commandments have historic value, but in doing so, Marauder ignores the actual history of the United States.”

Both of the above I think would get addressed by a few quotes from George Washington to clear things up.

““The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained”

“Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

“It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.”

George Washington is as Founding Father as its gets and its pretty clear from his famous statements that excluding things of religious nature from the government was not the desire or intention of the first amendment. To get the “smiles of Heaven” he wanted America as a nation to obey all 10 of the commandments.

You do not have to ignore the religious nature of the pitcher in the display, that’s part of the whole point of displaying it with the other historic documents, that it had its affect on them. That’s just truth, not favoritism. You cant erase that fact out of our history just because you don’t like it. and it shouldn’t be taken offensively to start with. That’s just how our country got started.



FourTrouble forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


Marauder forfeited this round.


My opponent says "imposing secular purposes" is the equivalent of "favoring of non-religion or atheism." This is false - a secular purpose simply requires that the law has a purpose that stands apart from any particular religion. For example, there is a secular reason that people are not allowed to steal - but that doesn't mean that having a law against theft favors atheism or non-religion. Just because the law must have a secular purpose does not mean the law cannot have a religious purpose as well - the issue at stake is whether a particular religion is favored over another. As long as a legitimate secular purpose exists for a law, then the law cannot be said to favor any religion over another, nor can it be said to favor atheism over religion (because secular laws do not pass judgment on religion).

The pitcher is on state property. It thus transmits a message to the community that is directly traced back to the state. My opponent claims the pitcher represents the "school board," not the state. But this completely effaces the fact that the school board is an official public group that represents the state's interests. Creationism cannot be taught as science in schools, regardless of whether the school board thinks it should be taught as science or not. Likewise, regardless of what the school board thinks, its actions must reflect the state's interest, not their own. And the state's interest does not permit a pitcher of the Ten Commandments to be displayed on state property.

My opponent claims that pointing out that someone is different is of no consequence. I disagree. Blacks were enslaved for over a century because they were different, homosexuality was considered a medical disorder for a long time because it is something different. When the site of difference promotes the marginalization of a particular group, it is impermissible. In the case of the Ten Commandments, displaying it on state property would transmit a message to nonadherents that they are outsiders. This would marginalize a group of people, and this is not only unconstitutional, it is immoral and undemocratic.

There is a reason our Constitution promotes religious liberty and religious tolerance - it is because wars are waged over religious differences. To have a society in which liberty prevails as well as social stability, it is necessary that the government remains neutral with respect to religion. If the government passes judgment on religion, favoring one over another, it in effect marginalizes a group of people, and this creates social instability, inequality, and ultimately, infringes on the liberty of everyone involved. The right to hold your own religious beliefs is fundamental to a democratic society. By favoring one religion over another, you deny people the right to hold their religious beliefs - it is a form of psychological coercion.

My opponent quotes George Washington, but the personal beliefs of George Washington are irrelevant to this debate - George Washington also had slaves, as did many of the founding fathers. The issue at stake in this debate is religious liberty - and to preserve religious liberty and religious tolerance for different religious views, it is necessary that the government not pass judgment on religion. If the government passes judgment on which religious beliefs are better than others, then the government will have effectively become a theocracy, dictating which religious beliefs are better than others.

Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were the first people to advocate a strict separation of chuch and state - the purpose? Religious liberty. The pitcher of th Ten Commandments should be taken down from Giles county school to preserve the religious liberty that makes the United States what it is. It would be unconstitutional to allow the pitcher to be displayed on state property. The U.S. Supreme Court has made this clear, so the outcome of this debate should be a non-starter. The resolution is negated.
Debate Round No. 3
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by socialpinko 6 years ago
Debate was cut short unfortunately but overall fun to read.
Posted by FourTrouble 6 years ago
lol drafter, I thought the same thing when I first saw this.
Posted by drafterman 6 years ago
Posted by Marauder 6 years ago
thats fine, my schedual actually got real busy too, incedently my internets fixed again.

I will just let my next round forfiet too so our rounds are even and let you close up the debate.
Posted by FourTrouble 6 years ago
Marauder, I'm really sorry about the forfeit, I've been somewhat busy and honestly I didn't realize the time had passed.
Posted by FourTrouble 6 years ago
lol I just realized I forgot to include my sources, I wasn't paying attention. Do you mind if I post them in the next round? I'm sorry about that.
Posted by Marauder 6 years ago
okay, but I think I can commit to coming to the college each day at least once, but I will tell you if it becomes a strain.
Posted by FourTrouble 6 years ago
I'll have my argument up tomorrow. Sorry about your internet, let me know if you want me to wait out the time for each round, if that helps.
Posted by Marauder 6 years ago
just post your argument sunday night and I will make a commitment to come to the college everyday to check on the debate, copy and past your argument if you have it up and take it home to work on. it seems the phone lines not going to get fixed soon. this weekends kind of busy so that's why I want you to wait tell Monday. sorry about the hassle I'm kind of causing, I didn't know before I got in the tournament this would happen to my houses internet. but I will make it work so don't worry.
Posted by socialpinko 6 years ago
Lol calm down.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by socialpinko 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro was unable to defend against Con's contention that the pitcher being up was an act by the State and thus subject to the laws on which the State is subject, specifically the Establishment Clause. Since teachers and the school board as members of the PUBLIC school system are subject to the rules of the Federal government. Pro's argument that the school board is not the State was thus unfounded. Local identity was also insufficient as the local identity goes against the law, when displayed.