The Instigator
GeneralGrant
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
squeakly54n6
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

The Wall of Separation between Church and State is not Constitutional

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/7/2019 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 448 times Debate No: 120673
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)

 

GeneralGrant

Pro

Con starts by letting me know how it is Constitutional.
squeakly54n6

Con

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, Or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. . . . "
- This is a clear example of the separation of church and state. I mean honestly, Do I need to explain more? It says so right in the constitution.
Debate Round No. 1
GeneralGrant

Pro

It doesn't say a wall of separation. It says that the federal government cannot establish a religion such as Catholic, Baptist, Muslim or Buddhist, But it never says that Congress can't hold prayers or have a sermon in the House of Representatives.
squeakly54n6

Con

Hmmm, That is an excellent point, This stumped me for a while. However it is heavily implied in this sentence that the government will not respect a certain religion more than any other, This could include endorsing religion in a government building. And congress praying in the house of representatives is indeed an endorsement of religion, Which is unconstitutional.
Debate Round No. 2
GeneralGrant

Pro

The framers of the Constitution only meant that Congress will not make a national religion. However, The US government supported monetarily many religious schools in America until it decided that it was too much money. Thomas Jefferson who wrote the quote of the wall of separation attended services held in the House of Representatives even after writing the letter of the wall. The Founding Fathers' intention in the 1st Amendment was to make clear that Congress could not establish a national religion, But not that they couldn't practice their beliefs in the government for that would violate their free exercise of their religion. Indeed, For several decades after the Constitution, Many states had established religions. Therefore the intent was clear. The States had the right to have established religions, Like Virginia and Massachusetts, But Congress could not establish a national religion as was the case of Catholicism in France, Spain and Italy or England with the Anglicans or Germany with the Lutherans or the Middle East with Islam, In other words government enforced religious establishment.
squeakly54n6

Con

" The Founding Fathers' intention in the 1st Amendment was to make clear that Congress could not establish a national religion, "

- This is partially true, However, Congress also meant that the government would not endorse a certain religion over another religion. Having a bunch of government representatives pray in a government building is indeed endorsing a certain religion, Which is unconstitutional. Jefferson even stated, "I consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, Their doctrines, Discipline, Or exercises. "

" but not that they couldn't practice their beliefs in the government for that would violate the free exercise of their religion. "

- Last time I checked, The government officials are allowed to practice their own religion, But not in government buildings or in public space. Doing so would be endorsing a religion.

" The States had the right to have established religions, "

Not necessarily, The constitution also states that "nor shall any state deprive any person of life, Liberty, Or property, Without due process of law;" From this, We can infer that the states should not have the rights to establish religions as that would be depriving someone of their freedom of choice.
Debate Round No. 3
GeneralGrant

Pro

If you are right then why did Jefferson go to Christian services that were held in the House of Representatives, Why has there been prayers led in Congress by mostly Christian denominations for over 200 years, Why did the Federal Government support Christian schools and colleges monetarily for many years if the Founders were against it, And why did Virginia and Massachusetts keep established religions well into the early 1800s?

Actually the Founders believed that religious faith was important in our system of government. They wanted to protect the religion of minorities and wanted to avoid intolerance and threat to religious liberty that might come from a nationally established church.
Indeed, Many ff the men who founded America came to escape religious persecution and their goal in drafting the Bill of Rights was to protect people's rights to practice their religion free from government interference and with no federal favoritism to a particular creed. Therefore the government was prohibited from establishing a religion.
What does establish mean, Then? The left would say the putting up a nativity scene in a public square is establishing a religion. But the Founders had something else in mind: The Church of England. They did not want a formal union of the political and ecclesiastical authority in the hands of the state.
Again, This was to prevent a national religion or church, But states still had established religions.
So what did the Founders' believe was the intent of the Bill of Rights? According to Madison, The Father of the Constitution, He 'apprehended the meaning of the words to be, That Congress should not establish a religion, And enforce the legal observation of it by aw, Nor compel men to worship God in any manner contrary to their conscience. '
Neither Madison nor Jefferson were hostile to religion. It was widely believed at the nation's founding that faith was necessary predicate for liberty. As Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence that our rights come from God. Jefferson wrote that without faith, Liberty was vulnerable: 'And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, A conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not violated but with Hiss wrath? '
Madison wrote that belief in God was 'essential to the moral order of the world. ' Opposition to an established church is not opposition to religion in general. In fact Madison noted how avoiding the establishment of one religion had actually helped religion in general. ' Religion flourishes in greater purity, Without than with the aid of government. '
Jefferson's treaty with the Kaskaskian Indians provided annual cash to a Catholic priests and a church. They continued until 1897 to provide money to sectarian schools when they decided that the $500, 000 was a lot.
squeakly54n6

Con

" If you are right then why did Jefferson go to Christian services that were held in the House of Representatives, Why has there been prayers led in Congress by mostly Christian denominations for over 200 years, Why did the Federal Government support Christian schools and colleges monetarily for many years if the Founders were against it, And why did Virginia and Massachusetts keep established religions well into the early 1800s? "

- Than according to the constitution, Jefferson and the founders were hypocrites. What is the difference between the government establishing a religion? Or all of the government endorsing a religion? Either way the government is putting one religion above another which is unconstitutional.

" They wanted to protect the religion of minorities and wanted to avoid intolerance and threat to religious liberty that might come from a nationally established church. "

- What is even the difference between a nationally established religion, Or a state established religion? The only real difference is each state gets to choose. However it is still the government establishing a religion either way.

" Religion flourishes in greater purity, Without than with the aid of government. "

- The states are STILL the government.
Debate Round No. 4
GeneralGrant

Pro

There is a Constitutional difference between a State Government and a federal government.

They were not hypocrites you just don't realize what 'establish' meant to the Founders. Maybe they were right and Hugo Black was wrong.
squeakly54n6

Con

"There is a Constitutional difference between a State Government and a federal government. "

- Not really, Both are a form of government. The only reason the state government exists is to give each state representation.

- Plus the constitution implies that Neither government can pass laws which aid one religion, Aid all religions, Or prefer one religion over another. Endorsing a religion by government employees praying in a government run building, Is an endorsement of a religion, Which therefore is the government preferring one religion over another, Which is unconstitutional.

- Moreover, The states/ the government establishing a religion in their state, Is aiding and endorsing one religion over another, Which is unconstitutional.
Debate Round No. 5
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Leaning 3 years ago
Leaning
First thought: It's obviously constitutional if it's in the constitution.

Second thought: Huh, Actually Pro makes some pretty good points, But I'm still thinking the wall of separation is in the constitution, Just for a different reason than Con. It's more like a large chain link fence, Which is similar to a wall. And religion is a bunch of balls, Some types which are small enough to pass through like prayer in congress and balls too big like nationalizing a single religion.
Third though: I think that Con goes to far in his position on the removal of religion from government. And on his view of how government officials throughout time view the position of government and it's statements itself. I just recalled a scene from the musical 1776 in which there was a Reverend or something serving in Congress I think. And Wikipidia does mention

Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives
Chaplains are elected as individuals and not as representatives of any religious community, Body, Or organization.

Fourth thought: Separating aspects of religion is still a separation of sorts. So Pro fails to convince me. Con also doesn't quite convince me due to his (To me) extreme stance on the issue.

Fifth thought: I recall something about some of the founding fathers being atheists/agnostic/deist or something, Including Jefferson. Or perhaps it was only suspicion, Ah well.

Sixth thought: Eh, I don't really consider any of them hypocrites. Well, 'more than most people I mean. Near everyone in life is hypocritical about something I'd think. Government and law is full of contradictions and cases in which the law itself is not enough, Or the law is not right and thus not followed. Or wrong and is followed, Eh rambling.

Anyway, I found both sides in the debate rather informed about the subject, But I do think they could be more informed and less radical. Myself least informed in this subject, But makes me happy to know someday I can read more about it.
I'm vot
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Leaning 3 years ago
Leaning
GeneralGrantsqueakly54n6Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.

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