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15
15
Yes No
Debate Score:30
Arguments:29
Total Votes:31
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 Yes (13)
 
 No (12)

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Does "Separation of Church and State" Exist in the Constitution?

I want to prefice this by saying this is not a debate on the original intent of the Constitution, as intent is almost impossible to debate when we are talking about ideologically and religious diverse people from a few centuries ago.

Now then, Separation of Church and State, a phrase coined by Thomas Jefferson, is a concept that has been debated in the United States since the creation of this country.  It is a concept that was deemed so imporatnt to the framers, that they included it within the very first amendment of the Bill of Rights, in both the Free Worship (freedom of) and Establishment (freedom from) Clauses.  

So my question is this: Does freedom both from, and of, religion exist within the constitution, and do you think it should be enforced?

Bonus points for citing SCOTUS precedent :P 

Yes

Side Score: 15
VS.

No

Side Score: 15
2 points

If we are dealing with strictly the concept, then yes it exists in the constitution. The framers did not want a national religion to be established.

However, I find it hard to believe that they would have agreed that a school could NOT put up a Christmas tree or even say the word Christmas. Or a graduation speech could not include the word God. There are too numerous little things that the ACLU is trying to do away with that the founders would not agree with.

Side: Yes
daver(1771) Clarified
2 points

And they did not imply that they wanted a national un-religion to be established.

Side: Yes
4 points

And no national "un-religion" has been established (as if that makes sense :P).

Side: No
1 point

I mean many of the Founders also wouldn't have supported the ACLU representing African Americans in court :P

Side: No
daver(1771) Disputed
1 point

By that do you mean to say that our founders were racist, thereby removing their legitimacy to establish a nation free of government based religious oppression.

Side: Yes
1 point

No. The first amendment prohibits (among others things) making any laws favoring any religion. The phrase "separation of church and state is not used.

I do not believe that freedom from religion is mentioned or implied.

Side: No
Jace(5052) Disputed
2 points

How can there be any freedom of religion without also establishing a freedom from religion? In order for all persons to practice their freedom of religion they must be free from the imposition of the religious beliefs of others. The moment that any religious belief is integrated into law and imposed upon the general population, this infringes upon the freedom of religion of all persons not sharing that religious belief.

Side: Yes
daver(1771) Disputed
1 point

A little context may help. Most of our founders were concerned with the loss of freedom that occurred in England when the church of England was officially sanctioned. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/ChurchofEngland

Freedom of religion was seriously weakened. Our founders were saying that our new nation would take careful steps to not promote any single denomination of Christianity, or any other religion. Present in world at that time was another, even more stark example of religious oppression by Islamic states.

The absence of religious influence in government was their goal. While your argument contains a certain logical element, its simply not what they were concerned with at the time.

IMO our founders saw no threat, but rather greater freedom, from a secular government. This freedom stands today.

Freedom from religion was established for the government. freedom to worship as we please was the individual right being protected.

I took the question in the OP,

So my question is this: Does freedom both from, and of, religion exist within the constitution, and do you think it should be enforced? to be literally asked. The only freedom from religion was to be the governments, in order that religions oppression by government be avoided.

I don't know. If you want to think that freedom from religion was implied, you may be right, but that was not the focus of the amendment.

Are you feeling that the government is now oppressing you, with religion.

Side: No
1 point

Come now Daver, surely you didn't do such a poor job reading the debate prompt? I did not ask if the wording was in it, I asked if the CONCEPT of it was.

And how does the Establishment Clause not imply freedom from religion, at least to a certain degree (ignoring the overwhelming precedent regarding it)?

Side: Yes
daver(1771) Disputed
1 point

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

In rechecking your post, I see you saying that the separation of church and state was an important concept for the founders. OK..............

Now you say I did not ask if the wording was in it, I asked if the CONCEPT of it was.

But from you post: So my question is this: Does freedom both from, and of, religion exist within the constitution, and do you think it should be enforced?

My reply : I do not believe that freedom from religion is mentioned or implied.

Now you ask:how does the Establishment Clause not imply freedom from religion.

Again its simply not there nor is it implied by these words:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion*

I give up. Where is your "from religion" implied.

Side: No
Stickers(1037) Clarified
1 point

Erm, that's not what he's asking .

Side: Yes

Of course some coined statement in a letter from one man, means nothing as far as the Constitution's wording. That's like saying one Senator's words in some letter will be the law of the land.

The freedom of communities to choose to say a simple Prayer in their school DOES NOT ESTABLISH RELIGION. It is freedom of religious expression as the Constitution makes reference. The voters of that community have every right to vote on such issues. If the majority do not want prayer, then don't have one. I believe in school choice. Send your kids to another school if hearing a school express our Christian heritage with a Prayer so offends you. No child would ever be forced to pray along and the prayer I'm sure would be very non specific and would also be something voted on. I laugh when I hear Liberal democrats talk bout free speech and diversity.

Side: No
1 point

You and Daver both had serious reading comprehension issues on this. I did not say "does the PHRASE exist in the constitution" I said does the concept. Read a prompt before responding.

"The freedom of communities to choose to say a simple Prayer in their school DOES NOT ESTABLISH RELIGION. " Conservative and Liberal judges both disagree with you, due to the nature of a captive audience.

" The voters of that community have every right to vote on such issues. If the majority do not want prayer, then don't have one. I believe in school choice." That is not the nature of a Constitutional Republic. The will of the majority does not subvert Constitutional law.

"Send your kids to another school if hearing a school express our Christian heritage with a Prayer so offends you" Send your kid to a christian school if you want them to have a christian education.

"I laugh when I hear Liberal democrats talk bout free speech and diversity." You don't seem well versed on the legality of those issues.

Side: Yes
Elvira(3445) Disputed
1 point

One thing is wrong with your argument. It isn't always possible to send your children to another school, especially if you're living in a rural area. Schools should not force children to observe a religion they don't understand or necessarily believe in. (And in the UK children are forced in some schools to sit in assembly and pray. These are state funded schools. I went to one. If the UK, a less religious country, has this problem then it's likely the US does too.)

Side: Yes

He doesn't think it is wrong if a child has to be forced to sit through a religious service in public school, it is only wrong if a child is forced to go to a school that gives equal deference to all religions.

It's silly.

Side: Yes