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Debate Info

34
17
Yes, it matters! No, it doesn't matter!
Debate Score:51
Arguments:41
Total Votes:59
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 Yes, it matters! (17)
 
 No, it doesn't matter! (12)

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Should the Supreme Court hear this Church and State Case?

Linda Stephens has lived in her upstate New York community for more than three decades and has long been active in civic affairs.

But as an atheist, those views have put her at the center of a personal, political, and legal fight that has reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

The issue is public prayer at her local town board meetings, another contentious case over the intersection of faith and the civic arena.

The justices on Wednesday will hear arguments over whether Greece, New York, may continue sponsoring what it calls "inclusive" prayers at its open sessions, on government property.

Stephens and co-plaintiff Susan Galloway have challenged the policy, saying virtually all of those invited to offer legislative prayers over the years were Christians.

"It's very divisive when you bring government into religion," Stephens told CNN from her home.

"I don't believe in God, and Susan is Jewish, so to hear these ministers talk about Jesus and even have some of them who personally question our motives, it's just not appropriate."

From FoxNews Belief Blog

Should the Supreme Court hear this case?

Full story here: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/11/01/supreme-court-to-review-church-state-dispute-over-public-prayers/?hpt=hp_t3

Yes, it matters!

Side Score: 34
VS.

No, it doesn't matter!

Side Score: 17

A federal appeals court in New York found the board's policy to be an unconstitutional violation of the Constitution's Establishment Clause, which forbids any government "endorsement" of religion.

That's all you need to know. It doesn't matter if they're praying to the god of the Bible or The Great Pumpkin.

If they want to pray, they can do so on their own time and their own dime, not while spending tax payer dollars.

Side: Yes, it matters!
wokndkjw(13) Disputed
1 point

What happens if God is running the government?

Side: No, it doesn't matter!
Mushinronsha(53) Disputed
2 points

Somalia will happen .

Side: Yes, it matters!
trumpet_guy(502) Disputed
1 point

There is a very important clause in the Bill of Rights called "the free exercise thereof". Basically, the government cannot pass a bill that specifically prohibits the exercise of a religion, which is exactly what you are saying.

Side: No, it doesn't matter!

Keep in mind that the exercising of the religion must not affect people around them that wish to not be disturbed by it. If in any case the exercise becomes oppressive or highly distracting to others and inherently prevents on from doing what they wish in their current state then I would say it is right to prohibit the exercise of religion for the individual(s).

Side: No, it doesn't matter!
1 point

There is a very important clause in the Bill of Rights called "the free exercise thereof". Basically, the government cannot pass a bill that specifically prohibits the exercise of a religion, which is exactly what you are saying.

So you believe that all Americans have the right to stop whatever they're doing, no matter what it is they're doing or when they're doing it, if they'd rather pray instead?

Side: Yes, it matters!
2 points

Religion should stay in the churches and be kept out of the public square, education system, and political system. Worship whatever you want, but keep it to yourself.

Side: Yes, it matters!
1 point

I don't understand why this person is not allowed to do so by your arguments implication. If the person is not praying loudly, or purposefully trying to include or pester others, is it truly a problem? I don't think so. Their praying doesn't necessarily affect the purpose you initially held. However, I would be most pleased to hear your side of the argument.

Side: No, it doesn't matter!
Thejackster(517) Disputed
1 point

The government has no right to promote any sort of religion, they should be allowed to pray as long as it is on their own merits, what I'm arguing against is government mandated christian prayer, payed for with my tax money.

Side: Yes, it matters!
0 points

Why do you think we even need a separation of church and state?

Side: Yes, it matters!
6 points

Well for a start the idea of a Theocracy is stupid because how do you even know that your religion or church is the correct one (if any are).

Laws should be based of reason not what is written down in a grossly outdated book which states a number of things that have no evidence to support and plenty against it.

Side: Yes, it matters!
Mushinronsha(53) Disputed
4 points

Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Somalia, Pakistan,.... want more reasons?

Side: No, it doesn't matter!
2 points

Its needed because if we let it slide the religious will try to smear there filth into our laws, we have to stop them in there tracks before it gets out of hand.

Side: Yes, it matters!

Yes, it matters, and I think that the Supreme Court should definitely hear the case.

But at the same time, I'm of the mind that saying a prayer at a town meeting does not come anywhere close to falling under 'law respecting the establishment of a religion.' I'm of the mind that banning prayer in government buildings, schools, et al is in fact infringing upon the rights of free speech and religious expression of all of those involved. Having to listen to somebody else praying in no way infringes on one's own rights. The case for banning prayer has no substance and no leg to stand on as far as I'm concerned, even if I'm not much for praying myself.

Side: Yes, it matters!
Jace(4910) Disputed
2 points

Saying an opening prayer at a town meeting is giving legal preference and acknowledgment to a particular religion or to religion generally. It is quite distinct from an individual saying a prayer at a meeting, as the latter is a case of individual expression rather than a collectively sanctioned statement by the governing body. You miss this distinction entirely. Opponents to organized prayer at government meetings (or in public schools, etc.) do not generally or widely propose to ban individuals from praying in any setting. The objection lies with the institutionalized observation of prayer.

I further contend that institutionalized observation of prayer is just as equally problematic in its exclusion of agnostics, atheists, and anti-theists as it can be in its exclusion of other theistic persuasions. If we consider it objectionable that one religious group be given official preference over other religious groups because it represents an imposition of beliefs upon those who do not share them, upon what basis does one contest that the imposition of religious belief upon the non-religious is not similarly an imposition of beliefs upon those who do not share them? In both cases one group's beliefs are being forced upon others in an official, governmental capacity; the only difference is that generally more people are inclined to object if those imposed upon are religious than if that group is non-religious. This clearly demonstrates the preference and privilege of religiosity in the United States.

Side: No, it doesn't matter!
AuntieChrist(803) Clarified
1 point

I don't want it banned in government buildings, but it shouldn't be part of official business. If they want to pray at work, they can do so durning lunch or breaks. The same goes for students at school. Prayer has no business being included in the curriculum. The fact that adherents of all faiths are given equal opportunity to waste time and money doesn't make it any better. I'd be equally opposed to a person exercising their right to freedom of expression by standing up and talking about their favourite sports team for two minutes every morning...and allowing other people to talk about a different sports team, or suggesting they leave until someone else is finished doing so if they don't want to listen to it, doesn't make it ok.

Side: Yes, it matters!
thousandin1(1931) Clarified
1 point

It's reasonable enough for it not to be part of official business, I'll grant.

But confining it to lunchtime or their breaks seems overly restrictive; your own example, discussing sports (or anything else not related to work or study, for that matter) is not confined to lunchtime or breaks, generally speaking. It's one thing if the individual(s) talking or praying are neglecting their work or studies notably to do so and/or overtly disrupting the ability of others to perform their work or studies, but there is really no harm in saying a quick prayer just before a key meeting, before a final exam, or something to that effect. And in most work and school environments, that should be fine; employees have non work related conversations among themselves, as do students- even during work related tasks and school assignments. Any time that it should be acceptable to talk about, say, sports , it should be equally acceptable to pray.

But again, you're right that such should not be part of official business during a meeting, and during a meeting in general is not an appropriate time for this, official business or not.

Side: Yes, it matters!

If they were to pray Vishnu, Osiris, Aphrodite or any other god, Christians would have a conniption. They only want prayer in government and schools if it's praying to their god. There's absolutely no reason everyone at the town hall meeting should have to listen to someone pray to their god. If someone wants to pray about the town hall meeting, they can do it before they go or quietly to themselves while they are there.

Side: Yes, it matters!

As someone who lives in Rochester (which Greece is a suburb of), NY, I actually know some of the people involved in this case.

The issue definitely needs to be heard- encroachment of religion into our government (Protestant Christianity to be specific) is far more pervasive than people realize.

The problem is not necessarily that they open the Town Meetings with a prayer- previous high court decisions have determined opening a government meeting with a prayer is Constitutional (Congress does it) as long as those prayers do not endorse a particular religion over others. In other words, the Town of Greece would not be in this position if they had attempted to provide any sort of diversity in their opening meetings. Yet, out of years of opening prayers only FOUR were not highly sectarian (i.e. not nondenominational) Christian prayers.

In addition, the women who brought the suit attempted to go a non-litigious route and were not only rebuffed but publicly scolded at the following meetings!

Side: Yes, it matters!

yes church should be punished :D

Side: Yes, it matters!

They should hear it just to make a ruling of how the founders would have wanted it. They were all for prayer in the public arena. Look at the first congress. Bible reading and prayer lasted 4 hours.

Our founders spoke much of our governments need of prayer. They issued hundreds of proclamations (officially from congress, president, governors etc.) for prayer and fasting, for prayer and thanksgiving, for asking forgiveness as a nation or state from God almighty in heaven above.

Side: Yes, it matters!
1 point

The Supreme Court has already ruled that inclusive, non-denominational prayer is permissible so long as no preference is given. On that basis, the governing body in question appears clearly at fault having given preference to certain religious beliefs over others. Given that the lower court ruled accordingly I see no reason why the Supreme Court should take up this case unless it wishes to reverse precedent (which it ought not to do). Refusing to hear the case upholds the standing decision and pre-existing precedent.

Side: No, it doesn't matter!