The Instigator
Areda
Con (against)
Losing
2 Points
The Contender
TheFreeThinker
Pro (for)
Winning
14 Points

There is separation of Church and Sate in the United States.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
TheFreeThinker
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/19/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,619 times Debate No: 16593
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (14)
Votes (4)

 

Areda

Con

I would like to start out by saying welcome to this debate, and my opponent. I will wait for another person to come on the pro side, and then round two will be opening statements, round three will be the main debate of each others sides, and round four will be closing statements.Round one is for accepting this debate.


"The concept of separation of church and state refers to the distance in the relationship between organized religion and the nation state.[1] "

--------------------------------------------
1.http://en.wikipedia.org...
TheFreeThinker

Pro

Dear Areda,

I accept your challenge and look forward to debate you on this issue.

It is a very interesting topic and I am sure it will lead to an interesting exchange.
Debate Round No. 1
Areda

Con

I thank my opponent for debating with me,and start my debate.

Point One:
"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."[1]

Said around the United States in almost every school, this pledge has been in existence and has been used widely ever since. Having separation of Church and State means that in a public institution, there should not be any words in a document about any deity or religious belief. Before, the pledge did not have the phase "under god." But, in 1954, Congress put a bill through and it was signed into law, which added this phase.[2] Thus, the government did indeed put forth an action with religion in it.

Point Two:

"In God We Trust."[3]

If you turn around any dollar bill in the United States, you can see this phase above the word "ONE." Currency is only printed by the Federal Reserve Banks, which is a government institution. Not only it is a motto on our dollar bills, but it is also our country's official motto, signed into law by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 as a law. This motto comes the bible it self, "in God I have put my trust;"(Psalms 56:4.) The bible is the holy book of Judaism and Christianity. Both are considered religions.

Point Three:

"Monday, December 26 : Christmas Day"[4]

This day is a Federal Holiday. In Christianity, it is the day in people believe Jesus was born upon. Most public schools observe this day, along with Easter, the day in which Christians believe Jesus came back to life. Along with this, the white house has a national Christmas tree, which the President lights him self. Other religions have holidays which are school holidays too, such as the New York City system, with a week set aside for Passover, Easter, and Good Friday.[5]

Questions for my opponent:
1. Why do national holidays have religious roots?
2. Why is god stated in many official documents?

------------
[1]http://www.ushistory.org...
[2]http://www.religioustolerance.org...
[3]http://www.macquirelatory.com...
[4]http://www.opm.gov...
[5]http://schools.nyc.gov...
TheFreeThinker

Pro

My opponent opened the debate by mentioning the Pledge of Allegiance and emphasizing the words "one nation under God" and arguing that through the addition of the the words "under God", the Government, or more correctly Congress, "did indeed put forth an action with religion in it".

This argument is false. As an atheist myself I consider the addition of the words "under God" superfluous and asinine, however there is a great difference between using the generic word "God" and claiming this represent an infiltration of religion in matters of the State, and this for several reasons:

1) Even though widely used, The Pledge of Allegiance is not a law nor its use mandatory either in public schools nor as a part of any state function.
In the court case Frazier v. Alexandre of May 31st, 2006, "A federal district court in Florida has ruled that a 1942 state law requiring students to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution" [1]

2) The Pledge of Allegiance does not use the name of a deity that can be related with a religion, even though those names, such as Yahweh for Judaism, Jehovah for Christianity, Allah for Islam, Buddha for Buddhism, are widely known, used and recognized. Therefore the use of the word "under God" does not constitute an implementation or endorsement of a particular religion or religion in general by the Government of The United States of America.
On March 11, 2010, In the court case of Newdow v. Rio Linda Union School District of March 11th, 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance in the case, ruling that the words were of a "ceremonial and patriotic nature" and did not constitute an establishment of religion. [2]

My opponent continues his argumentation by citing the national motto of The United States of America: "In God we trust".

My opponent mistakenly asserts that our currency is printed by the "Federal Reserve Banks, which is a government institution".
Both these assertions are false. Currency in the United States of America is printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which acts under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. [3]
Furthermore, the Federal Reserve system is not a governmental institution, but an "independent entity within the government" and "its decisions do not have to be ratified by the President or anyone else in the executive or legislative branch of government, it does not receive funding appropriated by Congress, and the terms of the members of the Board of Governors span multiple presidential and congressional terms." [4]

The core of the argument though is that through the use of the words "In God we trust", the US government has allowed religion to be part of State matters. This is absolutely not the case.
According to the Wordbook Dictionary, a Motto is a "favorite saying". Having an official favorite saying, or a motto, which includes the words "In God we trust" does not establish a connection between religion, or church, and the state, even if the root of the motto is found in the Bible itself, because the national Motto itself, even though established by law, is not a law of the United States of America and does not bind any public official or private citizen to it in any legal way.

My opponents final argument is that national holidays that have their roots in religion, such as Christmas, constitute a violation of the separation of church and state.

This argument, as well as the first two, fails to recognize that even though federal holidays are set by law, the celebration of religious ceremonies is not. No person in the United States is required to celebrate Christmas.
Furthermore, while the holiday known today to us as Christmas has been traditionally been associated with Christianity and the birth of Jesus, it is rooted in Germanic traditions and the celebration of the winter solstice. [5]
Having Christmas Day as a federal holiday does not mean that the Government of the United States endorses the religious celebration of Christians on Christmas Day nor the endorsement or establishment of Christianity or any other religion as State religion in the United States.

My opponent ends his first round asking two questions:

1. Why do national holidays have religious roots?
2. Why is god stated in many official documents?

My answers two those questions are:

1) Some national holidays, such as Christmas, have their roots in religion because religion is part of our national culture.
2) The words "In God we trust" and "One nation under God" have are found in official documents because their use is seen as a tradition, and they don't have any legislative consequence whatsoever, nor do they represent a governmental establishment or prohibition of religion.

The separation of Church and State in the United States is enshrined in the United States Constitution, which is the Supreme Law of the United States.

The First Amendment clearly states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof".

No US citizen can be required or prohibited to exercise his religious belief or lack thereof, no public official can be subjected to a religious test, and no legislature or executive branch or the US Government or of any State of the Union can pass a law or executive order that violates the First Amendment to the US Constitution.

No single point that my opponent has formulated represents a violation of the separation of church, or religion, and state, and his assertion that there is no separation of Church and State in the United States is blatantly false.

[1] http://www.nsba.org...
[2] http://www.ushistory.org...
[3] http://www.moneyfactory.gov...
[4] http://www.factcheck.org...
[5] http://www.circlesanctuary.org...
Debate Round No. 2
Areda

Con

I would like to thank pro for responding in a timely matter.

My opponent states that there is a difference between using the generic word "God" and claiming that it represents an infiltration of the State, but let us look at the definition of this word.

"...a being or object believed to have more than natural attributes and powers and to require human worship; specifically : one controlling a particular aspect or part of reality... "[1]

By default, one can see that the definition of God, is rooted in referring to religion, or any other supernatural being. The argument is indeed false, because even though my opponent states different names of God in different religions, as a whole the word God still has religious leanings.

1)"Even though widely used, The Pledge of Allegiance is not a law nor its use mandatory either in public schools nor as a part of any state function."

That may be so, but I would like to look upon the fact that ;"The United States Congress officially recognized the Pledge as the official national pledge on June 22, 1942."[2] Even if this work is not a law, and it is not mandatory, it is recognized in Congress, a part of the national and federal government. If a government was indeed a government separated by Church and State, why should a work having a phase such as "One Nation Under God" be recognized by a law making part of its government?

Also, my opponent describes that the court case of Newdow v. Rio came to the stating that the words were of "ceremonial and patriotic nature" and did not constitute an establishment of religion. But, one could also see that just because a item or written work is in ceremonial and patriotic nature, does not mean that it is non-religious in nature. For example, in England, their patriotic songs are in religious root, with lyrics of, "And guardian Angels sung this strain" and "God save the Queen!"[3]. This notation is no different than our own with the national anthem, a patriotic song, "...Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the Heav'n rescued land" and, "Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, And this be our motto:In God is our trust;"[4].

My opponent argues that Americans are not required to celebrate the religious ceremonies. On federal holidays, the government closes down "Non-essential federal government offices."[5] Truly, if the government was separated by Church and State, we as a nation would not set aside a day for a holiday that is defined as,"A worldwide holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ." Jesus Christ is a figure of Christianity, and this national holiday is under this name, along with having a national Christmas tree in front of the white house, lit by the president.

Finally, my opponent states that I made a mistake on where our currency is printed. He states,"Currency in the United States of America is printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which acts under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of the Treasury." My opponent fails to recognize that the Department of Treasury is headed by a man named Timothy F. Geithner. This man also makes up President Obama's current cabinet.[6] Also, Geithner is in charge of,"Currency and coinage;" and,"Advising on domestic and international financial, monetary, economic, trade and tax policy;." Clearly, if one has the power to tax the people, which in turn this money is used on a federal level, they indeed are connected to the government in many ways.

I would also like to ask my opponent another question.

Has there ever been a president without religious beliefs, claimed either in their campaigns or said by them directly?

My opponent fails to recognize the many signs of in which the government has traces of any religion in this country, which are ingrained in American government.

-------------------------
[1]http://www.merriam-webster.com...
[2]http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3]http://www.know-britain.com...
[4]http://en.wikipedia.org...
[5]http://en.wikipedia.org...
[6]http://www.cbsnews.com...
TheFreeThinker

Pro

My opponent opens the third round by repudiating the idea that using the word "God" in the Pledge of Allegiance and on US currency does not represent infiltration of religion in State or Government matter and explains her argument by writing that "the definition of God, is rooted in referring to religion" and that "as a whole the word God still has religious leanings" and writes that "By default, one can see that the definition of God, is rooted in referring to religion, or any other supernatural being."

People have worshipped the sun, the moon and the stars - non of which is a supernatural being - as Gods well before today's organized religions have been established, which shows that my opponent's definition of "God" as "...a being or object believed to have more than natural attributes and powers and to require human worship" is at least misleading if not blatantly false.

My opponent also fails to prove that the the use of the word "God" does indeed represent a breach between the wall of separation of Church and State and does not entertain the idea that the word "God" can be used in a context that is not religious.

The WordBook Dictionary defines "god" as:
1) Any supernatural being worshipped as controlling some part of the world or some aspect of life or who is the personification of a force .

2) A man of such superior qualities that he seems like a deity to other people.

3) A material effigy that is worshipped.

Therefore, believing or trusting in "God" does not necessarily need to be coupled with religion.
Some people worship their favorite sports team or a certain celebrity, making them by definition their "God", but those cases are not considered to be a "religion".

My opponent, confronted with the fact that The Pledge of Allegiance is neither a law nor mandatory, goes on asking:
"If a government was indeed a government separated by Church and State why should a work having a phase such as "One Nation Under God" be recognized by a law making part of its government?"

This question provides insight in my opponent's lack of understanding of the Government of the United States and of the legislative process.
The Pledge of Allegiance, even though ratified by law, is not a law of the United States itself and therefore not a "part" of the United States Government.

My opponent also fails to understand that even if the Pledge, or the National Anthem as she argues in her next point, may have phrases or wording that could be interpreted as having their roots in religion, are not laws of the United States and do not affect or influence State and Government business in any possible way.

In her next point, my opponent tries to argue that if there was separation of Church and State in the United States then "we as a nation would not set aside a day for a holiday that is defined as,"A worldwide holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ."

My opponent fails to recognize that a federal holiday does not require any citizen to part take in any religious event.
Furthermore, I have also already explained to my opponent that even though Christmas has been associated with Christianity for several hundred years, its celebration is rooted in the celebration of the Winter Solstice by Germanic tribes. I have provided my opponent with a link that explained the origin of Christmas and of many of its customs, for example the lighting of a tree.
It is interesting to note that even though my opponent has been very happy to try to prove the roots of the word "God", she completely ignored the root of Christmas Day when it became apparent that it did not support her argument.

My opponent's next point deals with the issue of which institution in the United States is in charge of printing money, saying that "my opponent states that I made a mistake on where our currency is printed."

This is correct. In the first round of debate my opponent has clearly stated that "Currency is only printed by the Federal Reserve Banks, which is a government institution."

I have already provided proof that currency is not printed by the Federal Reserve Banks and that the Federal Reserve is not a government institution, my assertion was therefore correct.

Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution clearly states that The Congress shall have Power:

"To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;" ...
"To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures".

The statement that Currency is only printed by the Federal Reserve Banks is false, and its formulation shows my opponent's lack of a rudimentary understanding of monetary policy and of constitutional law.

I think it would have been more appropriated for my opponent to admit her mistakes, since a debate has to be argued with facts and not with misinformation.

My opponent furthermore accused me of failing "to recognize that the Department of Treasury is headed by a man named Timothy F. Geithner".
I have not denied Mr. Geithner's role as Secretary of the Department of the Treasury, this attack is therefore unfounded.

My opponent closes her argument by asking if there has been any President without religious belief.
As far as I personally know, no President has ever openly declared to be an atheist.
Atheism however is a relatively new concept that followed the European Enlightenment and Darwinism, which gained prominence after the year 1900.

Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States, who in 1802 wrote a letter to the Danbury Baptists Association saying "I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.", therefore coining the term "Separation of Church and State", along with John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison and even George Washington, were, according to several historian, deists.[2]

Deism, in the philosophy of religion, is the standpoint that reason and observation of the natural world, without the need for organized religion, can determine that a supreme being created the universe. Further the term often implies that this supreme being does not intervene in human affairs or suspend the natural laws of the universe. Deists typically reject supernatural events such as prophecy and miracles, tending to assert that God has a plan for the universe that he does not alter by intervening in the affairs of human life. [3]

Considering the time period in which they lived, I personally assume that they would rejected a modern definition of religion and see themselves as atheists.

This question is however irrelevant, because a Separation of Church and State, which is according to your own definition "the distance in the relationship between organized religion and the nation state" does not require every or any member of the legislative, judiciary or executive to be personally non-religious.

I reject my opponent's accusation that I fail to recognize "the many signs of in which the government has traces of any religion in this country, which are ingrained in American government".
You don't need an atheist President to ensure the separation of Church and State, and the US Constitution bans through the 1st amendment any form of interference of the Government in religious matters, therefore the answer to this question is very simple and clear:

There is a separation of Church and State in the United States!

VOTE PRO!

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://www.atheist...
Debate Round No. 3
Areda

Con

I would like to once again thank my opponent for responding quickly, and providing a very interesting debate.

My opponent points out that,"People have worshipped the sun, the moon and the stars - non of which is a supernatural being - as Gods well before today's organized religions have been established," which is a false statement. According to Tour Egypt,"Ra was the almost universally-worshiped king of the gods and all-father of creation. A sun god, he was said to command the chariot that rode across the sky during the day."[1] Furthermore, their religion was organized. Princeton states the definition of religion as,"an institution to express belief in a divine power."[2]

My opponent also states that,"The Pledge of Allegiance, even though ratified by law, is not a law of the United States itself and therefore not a "part" of the United States Government." According to Merriam Webster, law can be defined as,"...the whole body of such customs, practices, or rules..."[3]

My opponent asserts that,"Furthermore, I have also already explained to my opponent that even though Christmas has been associated with Christianity for several hundred years, its celebration is rooted in the celebration of the Winter Solstice by Germanic tribes." Lets look deeper into that root. "It was noted by the pre-Christian Romans and other pagans, that daylight began to increase after December 22nd, when they assumed that the sun god died."[4] A pagan can be defined as,"Paganism (from Latin paganus, meaning "country dweller", "rustic") is a blanket term, typically used to refer to polytheistic religious traditions."[5] This practice is still religious, and pagans practice a organized religion.

My opponent points out my error in which I assert that currency not printed by the Federal Reserve Banks, and I thank him for this learning experience. He also points out,"Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution clearly states that The Congress shall have Power:

"To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;" ...
"To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures"."

Than, I ask that if Congress does coin Money, and congress is a part of the legislative branch, and has the power from,"The Constitution grants Congress the sole authority to enact legislation and declare war..."[6], than why should there be such a phase as,"In God We Trust," on our dollars.

I have clearly put forth evidence that there is not separation of church and state in America.

VOTE FOR CON!
----------------
[1]http://www.touregypt.net...
[2]http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu...
[3]http://www.merriam-webster.com...
[4]http://www.lasttrumpetministries.org...
[5]http://en.wikipedia.org...
[6]http://www.whitehouse.gov...
TheFreeThinker

Pro

My opponent opens the last round of the debate by writing that my statement according to which neither the sun, the moon or the stars are supernatural beings is false, because according to a travel website "Ra was the almost universally-worshiped king of the gods and all-father of creation. A sun god, he was said to command the chariot that rode across the sky during the day."

I encourage my opponent to use, as far as the topic allows it, peer-reviewed academic sources for research. I understand that sometimes it is hard to find those sources, but Egyptology is a widely studied subject and I am sure there are more accurate sources that travel websites.

The point that my opponent makes is however still invalid. First of all, I did not specify the Egyptian civilization, which by itself nullifies her argument. And second, just because according to a specific people the Sun "was said to command the chariot that rode across the sky during the day" it does not mean that it actually is a supernatural being.

Today we know for a fact that the Sun is a star and that our planet, the Earth, rotates around it. The Sun being a supernatural being is beyond any reasonable doubt so I don't understand what point my opponent has being trying to make by contesting my argument.
Furthermore, even if the egyptian religion ended up being organized at some point, it probably started as a disorganized and individual set of beliefs, the same way that Joseph Smith's reading into a hat turned into Mormonism, Jesus' speeches into Christianity and Mohammed's teachings and military expansion into Islam.

In her next point, my opponent, confronted with the fact that The Pledge of Allegiance is not a law of the United States of America, tries to find a definition of law that fits her argument.
This is not the way to have a reasonable debate. It is beyond any doubt that the current and widespread understanding of law in a political context means a rule that is binding for persons within the jurisdiction of the body that passed it.

Following your logic we could argue that The Pledge of Allegiance is a physical phenomenon like rain because there are "laws" of nature and "laws" of physics.

My opponent tries to discredit my assertion that Christmas' origin is in fact pre-Chrestian and probably pre-religious by citing a website called lasttrumpetministries.com which states that "A pagan... ...is a blanket term, typically used to refer to polytheistic religious traditions." and that "This practice is still religious, and pagans practice a organized religion."

This argument fails to recognize that most probably, every religion started as a disorganized set of beliefs at some point and that in remote times, science - or more correctly a lack thereof - and religion were intertwined.
Furthermore, most people, including my opponent before this debate, aren't even aware of the origin of celebrations such as Christmas, which in turn makes them lose their religious value.

I myself as an atheist do celebrate Christmas, not because of religion but because of tradition. The same way that other atheist and agnostics and buddhists and moslems celebrate Christmas every year, as well as Christians who only take part in traditional customs such as lighting the tree and exchanging presents but do not go to mess.

My opponent, who according to her own profile is an atheist herself, has asked me before if there has ever been an President who was not religious.There have been and there still are religions that do not worship a God but which are still religions [1]. If we declare a religion an organized set of beliefs, we can argue that Atheism is a religion itself, since there are atheist organizations.[2]
If we follow my opponent logic under which since the President is personally religious then there is no separation of Church and State, than even an atheist President would because of his belief in Atheism violate the doctrine of Separation of Church and State.

This is of course non-sensical.

My opponent closes her argument asking "why should there be such a phase as,"In God We Trust" on our dollars.

The reason that that word is on the One Dollar Bill is that the institution responsible for designing it deemed it appropriate and acted within its Constitutional powers.

That phrase is not legally binding in any way, does not represent the recognition of religion or for that matter of God itself by the Federal Government of the United States and does have no influence whatsoever in policy making in the United States.

We have a Constitution and a system of Checks and Balances in this country that ensures the strict separation of State and Organized religion.

During the course of this debate my opponent has failed to bring up even one single example that shows beyond reasonable doubt that the wall of Separation between Church and State has ever been breached in the history of the United States and has decided to debate on the design of currency and on the wording of The Pledge of Allegiance, which may or may not be controversial, but definitely do not represent an intervention in State affairs by the hand of Organized Religion.

The effective Separation of Church and State is in place in the United States and it's foundation is enshrined in the Constitution.

[1] http://www.religionfacts.com...
[2]http://www.atheists.org...
Debate Round No. 4
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by TheFreeThinker 6 years ago
TheFreeThinker
Hey guys, if you could please read and vote, it would be nice...
thx
Posted by ReformedArsenal 6 years ago
ReformedArsenal
That is a POOR definition of the separation of Church and state...

The separation clause simply says that the state may not establish a state religion...
Posted by medic0506 6 years ago
medic0506
So what if the POTUS has religious beliefs. Do all public servants lose their first amendment rights??
Posted by Grape 6 years ago
Grape
Oh, I didn't see that. I went off the definition given in the debate. I suppose Con should have paid more attention to the fact that she provided two totally different definitions. In relation to that definition I agree with your comment.
Posted by Ore_Ele 6 years ago
Ore_Ele
Grape, read the 3rd comment.
Posted by Grape 6 years ago
Grape
If "separation of church and state" refers to the distance between religion and government, then there is separation of church and state anywhere where they are not the same institution. If there is very little distance in their relationship, there is distance. Automatic win for Pro based on the definition.
Posted by Areda 6 years ago
Areda
"So you would be against things like school prayer, the ten commandments in courthouses, etc...?"

That would be a starting point, yes.
Posted by Contradiction 6 years ago
Contradiction
So you would be against things like school prayer, the ten commandments in courthouses, etc...?
Posted by Puck 6 years ago
Puck
"Someone hurry up and accept this and post the establishment clause so I don't have to."

Note the wording of the resolution; the establishment cause is not sufficient. At best it provides a basis for Pro to argue the case.
Posted by Ore_Ele 6 years ago
Ore_Ele
With the definition provided, I don't think anyone will take this.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by detachment345 6 years ago
detachment345
AredaTheFreeThinkerTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: pro showed there definately is seperation between seperation between the two
Vote Placed by medic0506 6 years ago
medic0506
AredaTheFreeThinkerTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Good debate but it's obvious, and pro showed, that there is a separation. If not, this country would look vastly different.
Vote Placed by Cliff.Stamp 6 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
AredaTheFreeThinkerTied
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Total points awarded:23 
Reasons for voting decision: 1 pt to Con as a new member putting forth a solid proposition. 1 pt for the use of God in the pledge Pro's defense that this was not a religion was weak. However a lot of dropped arguments have to give points to Con in general, 3:2 Pro
Vote Placed by MrCarroll 6 years ago
MrCarroll
AredaTheFreeThinkerTied
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Con proposed some ridiculous things; I'm not sure the government is forcing anyone to be or not be religious. Anyway, its a clear win for me.