Instigator / Con
17
1596
rating
9
debates
88.89%
won
Topic

The Outlaw of Public Prayer in the United States

Status
Finished

All stages have been completed. The voting points distribution and the result are presented below.

Arguments points
9
0
Sources points
2
6
Spelling and grammar points
3
3
Conduct points
3
1

With 3 votes and 7 points ahead, the winner is ...

Discipulus_Didicit
Parameters
More details
Publication date
Last update date
Category
Society
Time for argument
One week
Voting system
Open voting
Voting period
Two weeks
Point system
Four points
Rating mode
Rated
Characters per argument
10,000
Contender / Pro
10
1624
rating
41
debates
68.29%
won
Description
~ 421 / 5,000

The claim is "Public prayer is currently outlawed in the United States"

The debate is about whether this claim is truthful or not.

The debate is not about whether public prayer should/ought to be outlawed.

Round structure will be semi-formal. Rounds one through three may be used for argument and rebuttal. Round four is for concluding statements only. No new arguments may be brought up in round four by either party.

Round 1
Con
Please read the description carefully for what the resolution is before voting. The title is not the resolution.

As this is a resolution where the BoP is clearly on pro and con is clearly unable to do anything except respond to pros arguments and as pro has insisted that I be the one to speak first because they want to have more rounds to argue than me I will simply open this debate with an interview with a law enforcement expert which I recently performed before turning the debate over to pro.

DD: Hello, do you mind if I ask you a few questions while we are in this public area?

COP: No I do not mind. Go ahead.

DD: Okay. First question. If I did something illegal, in other words something that has been outlawed, right now in this public area then what would happen?

COP: As I am a cop if you did something that was outlawed then I would apply an appropriate penalty such as arresting you, giving you a ticket, et cetera.

DD: Very well.

*At this point in the interview DD begins to pray for several minutes. There is no visible response from the subject of the interview."*

DD: There we go. What is your response?

COP: I have no response. Praying in public is not illegal.

DD: Right then. I want you to pretend that we are in a public school for a moment and I an a student.

COP: Go ahead.

*DD once again prays for several minutes. There is no visible response from the subject of the interview.*

DD: Now what is your response to that?

COP: I have no response. Praying in schools is not illegal. If it was then there would be a law against it, which there is not. Also you would have examples of people being penalized by the government for praying in schools, which you do not.

DD: Let us continue the interview. Continue to pretend that we are in a public school. Pretend that I am a teacher and there is a class of students here.

COP: Okay.

DD: Good morning class. We will start the lesson with a mandatory prayer. Everyone please face towards the east and get out your prayer mats so that we...

COP: Excuse me sir, you are not allowed to make students pray in public schools. I am putting an end to your current activities.

DD: So you are saying public prayer is illegal, in other words that it has been outlawed?

COP: That is obviously not what I am saying and if you were paying attention and had a basic understanding of English you would know that. The activity I am putting a stop to is not you performing public prayer. You were not even praying at the time that I intervened.

DD: But I was about to be praying!

COP Please stop interrupting me, sir. The activity that I was interrupting was the act of making students pray in public schools. You are not allowed to do that. You are allowed to pray.

DD: So if I simultaneously do something that is legal and something else that is illegal then it would be incorrect to say that you were punishing me for doing that legal thing if you punished me for doing that illegal thing?

COP: Yes. This is how the English language works.

DD: That is enough for this interview. Thank you for your time.

I now turn the debate over to my opponent.
Pro
I Rebuttal: Nice script, but the playwright is Anon

I.a My opponent, Discipulus_Didicit [hereafter, Con] produced a narrative between Con and a cop. Great narrative, as they go, noted to have actually taken place between Con and the cop, but the narrative conversation assumes the cop is knowledgeable on points of the law relative to a subject that may not be immediately, authoritatively sound beyond educated opinion. The cop is not cited as such. So be it. Let’s assume this cop is relatively informed, and yet, he errs.
Further, this is anecdotal evidence, but not demonstrative of a necessarily wider truth experienced by a population.

 I.a.1 “Praying in public is not illegal,” the cop says. Thereupon turns the debate. Not said is whether the offered prayer by Con was verbal or silent; Con only says there is no initial response by the cop. If a prayer is offered in silence, it’s not public, and the cop is correct. If, however, the prayer is offered orally, subject to the hearing in public, the Supreme Court has a word to say about it. And, I remind the anecdotal effect in this case. 

 1.a.2 When Con relates to the cop that the same exercise as in Con’s argument rebutted in I.a.1, but in a school, the cop’s attitude is the same as in I.a.1: “praying in schools is not illegal.” As said, the Supreme Court has a word about it, in addition to the anecdotal effect. See below.

 I.a.3 Then Con related to the cop that the teacher would impose a mandatory prayer. Now the cop intervenes saying mandatory prayer is illegal. Mandatory? Voluntary?

 II Argument: Misinterpretation of the Constitution is faux law: a glimpse of history

 II.a The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States reads:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The first subject of the First Amendment's first phrase, words up to the first comma, is the “establishment clause,” but also generally ignored is the second phrase: "Or prohibit the free exercise thereof." Presidents, Congress, the Supreme Court, and we, the people, commit such ignorance by addition and subtraction from the Constitution. 

II.a.1 Prior to composing the Constitution, James Madison wrote in Federalist Paper #37: “In some [people], it has been too evident from their own publications, that they have scanned the proposed Constitution, not only with a predisposition to censure, but with a predisposition to condemn…”[1] Already, Madison is aware of efforts to malign and misinterpret, by design, the words he had written and that were ultimately ratified and published.

II.a.2 Professor Douglas O. Liner, of the University of Missouri, Kansas City School of Law has generalized two camps, specifically of the Supreme Court, not as Democrat and Republican, but rather as Originalists, and Non-Originalists. That is, those who attempt to interpret the Constitution as written by Madison, with attempt to understand 18thcentury syntax, with some differences relative to three centuries later, and those who reserve interpretation to what the Constitution means today; three hundred years’ worth of todays.[2]

II.a.3 Just to demonstrate the confusion of interpretation, witness one commentary on the Ninth Amendment by Judge Robert Bork, a rejected nominee to the Court, who said, regarding the 9A, that it was analogous to “an inkblot on the Constitution… a provision so unclear in its significance that judges should essentially read it out of the Constitution.”[3] Bork is an originalist!

II.a.4 James Madison was aware, when writing the Bill of Rights, that the Colonial Government supported religions of the day financially for at least one hundred years up to the latter seventh decade of the 18th century.[4] There was not a single religion established, but several in existence by the time Madison, with the Continental Congress, set about the effort to document a government of the United States. With that understanding, where, pray tell, is an interpretation of sensibility that Madison intended a hard wall of separation between church and state?

II.a.5 We get the phrase, “separation of church and state” from Tom Jefferson, who held that sense of the relationship, and he got it from Roger Williams, 1644, during which time the Colonial Government, as  said, financially supported religion. Note, however, that neither Williams not Jefferson wrote the Constitution; the former because he was dead, and the latter because he was, at the time, in France as the Colonies’ Ambassador to France, separated from church and state. So, let’s not misinterpret the Constitution because neither party had input to it. The “separation of church and state,” is not in the Amendment, and it cannot be put there as if the Supreme Court were designing a menu for a cafeteria. That’s not how it’s done. But, that is what they did.

II.b I contend that public prayer in public school is outlawed in the United States, and that this illegality is:
 
II.b.1. Based on misinterpretation of the First Amendment relative to the establishment clause,and

II.b.2 Based upon Supreme Court precedent in at least two Court cases identified below.

 III Do not bother with what is written; interpret whatever satisfies the moment.

 III.a James Madison wrote the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States with purpose, addressing the conditions of the day, the latter 18th century, and with foresight that such writing would endure generations to the present day. In the 18thcentury, the mutual understanding between religion and government was not a separation, as though a wall through which nothing was shared. James Madison wrote to Reverend Jasper Adams in 1832, 43 years after writing the Bill of Rights, “…the existing character [of religion], distinguished as it is by its religious features, and the lapse of time now more than 50 years since the legal support of Religion was withdrawn sufficiently to prove that it does not need the support of Government, and it will scarcely be contended that the Government has suffered by the exemption of Religion from its cognizance, or its pecuniary aid.”[5]

 III.a.1 James Madison saw, not a separation, but intersections of the state and religion meant to occur at times and circumstances when both could align with a shared policy of ameliorating aid to the public.

 III.a.2 Supreme Court decision, Engel v. Vitale [1962]:The case centered on complaint that the New York State Board of Regents authorized a voluntaryrecited prayer at the beginning of each school day. A group of citizens, led by Steven I. Engel, charged that the recitation violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment. William J. Vital, as the head of the Board of Regents, was the respondent. The question for the Court was “Does the reading of a nondenominational prayer at the start of the school day violate the "establishment of religion" clause of the First Amendment?”[6] Note the condition of the recited prayer: voluntary. Mr. Engel’s children were not coerced to pray.

 III.a.2.a Without getting into the weeds of the case, the final decision offered by Justice Hugo L. Black found in favor of plaintiff, saying, “respondent's decision to use its school system to facilitate recitation of the official prayer violated the Establishment Clause. Specifically, the policy breached the constitutional wall of separation between church and state.The Court ruled that the constitutional prohibition of laws establishing religion meant that government had no business drafting formal prayers for any segment of its population to repeat in a government-sponsored religious program. The Court held that respondent's provision of the contested daily prayer was inconsistent with the Establishment Clause.”[7] This established the illegality of offering public prayer in public school sponsored by the state. Any state.

 III.a.4 Supreme Court decision, Abington School District v. Schempp [1963]was a similar First Amendment case citing violation of the establishment clause by virtue of Bible-reading in class in Pennsylvania, and reciting the Lord’s Prayer in public schools, and, again, ignoring the subsequent phrase, “…or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The decision also cited Engel v. Vitale [1962]as Court precedent.

 IV Conclusion: “nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” except you can prohibit its free exercise.

 IV.a Both of these related Supreme Court cases find in favor of the “separation of church and state” as the condition of the establishment clause, in spite of that clause having none of this word string in it, thus treating the Constitution as an interpreted cafeteria menu, by declaring the unconditional free exercise of religion as a conditional exercise prohibiting public prayer in public places, conditions which do not exist constitutionally.
 
III.b Both of these related Supreme Court cases find against the following phrase proceeding from the establishment clause,that the free exercise of religion is not to be prohibited, but both SCOTUS cases do just that. Prayer, and the reading of the Bible, [though apparently not the Qur’an, the Torah, or the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy], specifically, is prohibited by Supreme Court precedent, which is binding law as much as is statutory law.
 
 


See references for round 1 in comments
 










Round 2
Con
Before starting I wish to clarify something to avoid unnecessary potential misunderstanding. My opponent says:

Not said is whether the offered prayer by Con was verbal or silent; Con only says there is no initial response by the cop.

To clarify I the prayer was out loud, in Arabic, and I was facing East. I was not using a prayer rug at the time. Now back to the debate.

Introduction

My position in this debate is that public prayer (defined by pro as praying out-loud in public) is not outlawed by any act of the United States government. First we will discuss a bit what it means for a thing to be outlawed then we will review the arguments made by pro. If after review the voters do not find any of pros proposals for substantiating the claim made in the resolution to be sufficient then it is reasonable to vote for con. In today's era of technology it is a simple matter to provide an example of a law or judicial decision which might make a particular thing illegal and therefore if pro is unable to do so it is reasonable to assume such does not exist.

What is illegal?

If something is not allowed by law then it is illegal. Important to note here, however, is that if you are breaking the law while doing something that thing is not necessarily illegal. For example if one steals a car and drives it down a street that person is breaking the law but to say that driving down a street is illegal would be incorrect. The act of driving played a critical role in their violation of the law but driving is not illegal. The distinguishing factor is which of these two acts (the theft or the driving) is a violation of the law. The easiest way to do this would be to ask "If I did only one of these things but not the other then would I be breaking the law?" In this case if you drove a car you had not stolen you would not be breaking the law.

Therefore if going forward we find some law or judicial decision that seems to forbid an act related to prayer in some way that doesn't necessarily mean that it forbids prayer. One may discern whether prayer is forbidden by such a law by asking themselves "If I simply start praying would I be violating the law or is there something else I need to do as well to be considered in violation of the law?" If there is some other act that is needed in addition to prayer for an action to be a violation of the law then perhaps that act is what is illegal.

In short voters, please keep the auto theft analogy at the front of your mind while reading the rest of this debate.

Response to Pro Round One

Pros argument can seemingly be divided into two main parts. The second part seeks to establish that certain court rulings can be said to outlaw public prayer while the first part of his argument attempts to lay out a background for why pro considers these rulings to be invalid. This first part is the more extensive and makes up the majority of pros round one submission. It includes a brief overview of certain events in history including the origin of the phrase 'separation of church and state', the establishment clause, etc. Voters can safely ignore this first part of my opponents round for the most part as being irrelevant to the resolution of this debate.

Obviously I and just about everyone else in the country does not want prayer to be illegal. Therefore to expect me to argue against arguments that say prayer should not be made illegal is ridiculous. Furthermore the validity of these court decisions is not the subject of the debate. As was made clear in the debate description we are not debating what the law should be. We are debating what the law is. What it should be, therefore, is irrelevant.

Let's look at the second part of pros argument that I mentioned. Two Supreme Court cases are claimed by pro to outlaw public prayer. We can look at each of them starting with the one pro brought up first.

Engel V. Vitale

We need look no further for a simple enough summary of this ruling than my opponents own argument. A quote from pro (emphasis mine):

...respondent's decision to use its school system to facilitate recitation of the official prayer violated the Establishment Clause. Specifically, the policy breached the constitutional wall of separation between church and state.The Court ruled that the constitutional prohibition of laws establishing religion meant that government had no business drafting formal prayers for any segment of its population to repeat in a government-sponsored religious program.

We can either reject this as a fair summary of the case, in which case we reject that pro has accurately portrayed the case that his argument relies upon and therefore using this case as a basis is invalid and no more needs to be said about it, or we can accept this as a fair summary. If this is a fair summary of the case the question becomes whether we can interpret from this that "public prayer is outlawed".

Remember from the previous round pro establishes the definition of public prayer as 'praying out loud in public'. Reading pros own summary of the case above we can see a clear mismatch between not being allowed to pray in public and what is being forbidden above. The above quote is very specific about the fact that what is being outlawed is government sponsorship of a prayer program, not prayer itself. Returning to our earlier auto theft analogy we can ask "If I establish a public program in which the government drafts up a prayer to be read by a segment of it's population as in the quote above then am I violating the law?" the answer is yes, but is it because prayer is outlawed? Imagine a person going into the school in question and praying on their own without attempting to establish any sort of government-sponsored religious program to do so. Would that person be violating the above ruling? The answer is no, as the ruling is very clear that what it forbids is government sponsorship.

Abington School District V. Schempp

The second of the two rulings claimed by pro to supposedly outlaw public prayer suffers from the same problems as the first. My opponent does not provide as lengthy a summary of the ruling here as he did before. The basic idea is the same, however. The ruling puts no restrictions whatsoever on what individuals may do with regards to their religious preferences or practices. The only restrictions either of these rulings places is on governments ability to influence or sponsor such practices. As I said before my opponent can argue all they want that these decisions are legally invalid, I may even rhetorically agree with them, but that is irrelevant to the debate at hand.

As long as it is legal for a person to pray in public the statement "it is illegal for a person to pray in public" is a false statement, and thus con should get the vote in any resolution making this claim.
Pro
I Rebuttal: What is illegal?
 
I.a Among other things, contrary to my opponent’s claim in his round 1, “The distinguishing factor is which of these two acts[the theft or the driving] is illegal,”is that assumptions do not counterweigh facts. It’s a bit like Joe Biden preferring “truth over facts.”[1] I don’t think that’s what Biden meant to say, but it is what he said, and his propensity to put his foot in his mouth is legendary. My opponent assumes only the theft of a motor vehicle is the illegal act, while the driving of it is not. This assumption of faux law,in fact a book I recently wrote and published [not seeking sales opportunities here], concerns this matter of faux law;what is assumed to be law that is not, and the reason I use this username.
 
1.b Enter: 18 USC §2312, which stipulates that not only the theft of a motor vehicle, but driving it when stopped and apprehended, or apprehended later and found to have driven the stolen vehicle, is two charges. It is illegal to both steal a vehicle andto drive a stolen vehicle. Period. Then why steal it? Well, there’s the rub; why indeed? This stuff is so easily researched it should cause no wonder why so much faux lawfloats among us. In fact, 18 USC, Section 2 will be thrown at anyone riding as a passenger in a stolen vehicle, and this, alone, is even a felony for minors.[2]
 
So, let’s not get too wrapped around the axle on that score when voting on this debate point, regardless of Con’s auto theft analogy. Do keep it in the front of your mind, but know the law while you’re at it. Some analogies, though just analogies and not the forefront of the argument, fail to make the argument stand. Done.
 
II. Rebuttal: the old cause and effect routine:  Engels v. Vitale [1962]
 
II.a Sure, by actual language, the “summary” quoted by Con regarding the Engels v. Vitale [1962]case, which was not some hair-brained commentary by a journalist, or anybody else after the case concluded – it is particularly not my summary – it is taken from the Court Syllabus. It’s official summary, so the question whether it is to be believed, or not, speaks for itself. As the Syllabus is official language of any Court result, its language is dependable, albeit assailable on its merit. Assailable, that is, by the Court itself, which Court has overturned fully 12% of its decisions in its 230-year history.[3]
 
II.b As a result, one must look not only to the Court’s decision [the cause] but also as to the consequences of that decision [the effect] relative to the conduct of prayer in schools. That effect is that although the exacting verbiage of the Vitaledecision forbids school sponsored prayer, even if voluntary,the effect, the consequence, is that unless a student prays for straight As or to be on the football team, or to be the prom queen, and those prayers are said in silence, the audible utterance of some prayers will be met with charges of violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
 
II.c The principles of Engel have been extended by Court decisions invalidating an Alabama law requiring a moment of silence that appeared to have been rewritten specifically to encourage school prayer in Wallace v. Jaffree (1985), a middle school graduation school prayer in Lee v. Weisman (1992), and prayer at high school football games in Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe (2000).”[4]
 
II.c.1 This effect goes beyond the assumption that forbidding school-sponsored prayer is the only mode of prayer forbidden by Vitale; it extends to setting precedent in the other three Supreme Court cases cited in the quote above, which extend beyond just a sponsored prayer.
 
II.c.2 The effect of the Court finding in Abington School District v. Schempp [1963], which cited Vitale, was similar to the extensions by additional Court rulings following Vitale.
 
II.c.2.a This is due to the biblical encouragement for people to pray in all circumstances, such as, “Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.”[5] In other words, pray always; even students in school.
 
The conflict religious students have is to reconcile this advice from the Apostle Paul, and their government.
 
II.d The result of the conflicting attitudes presented to students is not, as Con suggests, a red-herring argument [not Con’s choice of argument mode, but a red herring is the fish it is] because the original Vitalecase prohibited, I acknowledge, only school sponsored prayer, while presumably allowing any other modes of prayer. But, no. As the title of this rebuttal section says, there is cause and effect. The effect being, after all, Wallace v. Jaffree [1985], Lee v. Weisman [1992], and Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe [2000], as described above in II.c.
 
Con asserts As long as it is legal for a person to pray in public the statement "it is illegal for a person to pray in public" is a false statement, and thus con should get the vote in any resolution making this claim.”
 
II.d.1Con may make as many resolving assumptions as he wishes. If wishes were fishes, and that was all there was to it, he might be correct. However, Court actions yield other Court actions [that cause and effect thing] that say more than, “just this fish is banned.” According to the three cases cited above [II.c and II.d], just the school-sponsored fish is no longer the only fish banned, is it? Therefore, Con’s conclusion, to date, should not win the vote because it is a red herring, which should always be banned.
 
 
III. Argument: A school-sponsored fish, a moment of silence fish, a graduation fish, and a football fish.
 
III.a Four different fish over 38 years does not send a comforting signal that straight As, and prom queen fishes are safe to keep swimming, considering that the First Amendment was ratified in 1788. We have already also lost the football fish, and three other fish in 38 years, against 232 years of promise that all fish had the right to be exercised freely. That is 1.7% lost since 1788. That means, math friends, that in another 1,000 years, approximately, all fish are at risk trying to swim in the American Republic. 
 
III.a.1 It’s actually worse that that. We didn’t lose any fish until 1962. We have lost four fish in a mere 38 years; from 1962 to 2000, not 1788 to 2020. All were safe until 1962. So the percentage of allowed tolerance for prayer in school is much worse: 10.5% lost. Meaning that all will be lost in another 300 years, approximately, should the trend continue. 
 
III.b I do not argue that all prayer in school is prohibited. That any mode of prayer is prohibited is a trend in the wrong direction, let alone, now, four modes of prayer prohibited. The debate is not that all modes of prayer are prohibited. It is that any mode of prayer is prohibited; a generalized “prayer.” I am not, as Con is likely to claim, changing the goal post. There are clearly many modes of prayer, and not just silent or out loud. “Prayer” is a relative word, an all-inclusive word to describe all modes of communication with deity for all purposes such efforts are made.
 
The very word is assailed. Not just sponsored, nor moment of silence, nor graduation, nor football.  
 
Nor do I contend that Pro has already won the debate. There are two rounds remaining before voters begin to tally the score. I only contend that, to date, Con is premature. He has not yet assailed my case. That is his burden. I am demonstrating mine, to date, and have still another round remaining to introduce all my arguments. Steppenwolf may start singing at any time, but they’re off key. I do not fire all of my guns at once.
 
I yield to my opponent.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Round 3
Con
Driving a stolen car is illegal. Driving is not illegal.

Phrased another way:

[IF] stolen = true [THEN] legal = false

Now that I have secured the vote of the compdemographic let us continue...

In my previous argument we examined a summary of the court decision of Engels v Vitale and I explained why this summary was, if accurate, . In round two pro presents the following overly verbose little paragraph full of redundancoes and repetition:

Sure, by actual language, the “summary” quoted by Con regarding the Engels v. Vitale [1962]case, which was not some hair-brained commentary by a journalist, or anybody else after the case concluded – it is particularly not my summary – it is taken from the Court Syllabus. It’s official summary, so the question whether it is to be believed, or not, speaks for itself. As the Syllabus is official language of any Court result, its language is dependable, albeit assailable on its merit. Assailable, that is, by the Court itself, which Court has overturned fully 12% of its decisions in its 230-year history.

the essence of what pro is saying here "sure I agree that summary is a pretty accurate description of the decision but it's validity can be questioned".

As I have already established in my previous round whether any laws or court rulings are "valid" is completely irrelevant to this debate. This debate is merely about whether the act of praying in a non-private place is actually in fact illegal.

Pro accepts this and even goes on to accept that the verbage of the decision only forbids school sponsored prayer. In short he conceeds the point that Engel v. Vitale does not support his argument on the grounds that it does not forbid prayer but instead only forbids school sponsored prayer. He continues to argue in favor of the resolution, however, by bringing up three additional cases which he says do in fact outlaw prayer. Since the Engel v Vitale case was conceded on the basis of the fact that it only covered prayer sponsored by the government then if it can be shown that these three cases do the same then pro must also concede that these cases do not support the debate resolution. The cases my opponent brings up are as follows:

Wallace v Jaffree*

the Supreme Court struck down as a violation of the establishment clause a “one minute period of silence” that the Alabama legislature prescribed for its public schools at the start of each day.

Lee v Weisman*

“it is no part of the business of government to compose official prayers for any group of the American people to recite as a part of a religious program carried out by the government, and that is what the school officials attempted to do.

Santa Fe Independent School District v Doe*

The prayer [that was the subject of the court case] took place on school property, at a school-sponsored event, and was broadcast over a school-owned loudspeaker that was controlled by school officials, to a crowd in a school-owned stadium filled with school insignias.

In each of these three cases we see the same pattern as before. My opponent fails to bring up any case of a court decision being rendered against "individual prayers to become prom queen". In every case the decision has been against government interference, not individual action.

I say again that as long as it is legal for a person to pray in public the statement "it is illegal for a person to pray in public" is a false statement. No laws or court decisions have been shown in this debate that would imply the Supreme Court is against the act of prayer itself and thus the resolution is unjustified.

*Sourced from opponents link to this court case in their argument, emphasis mine.
Pro
Forfeited
Round 4
Con
As my opponent has insisted upon neither of us making new arguments in the final round I will simply make a few short bullet points summarizing the debate.

  • Pro brings up several court cases that supposedly outlaw prayer. Con points out that according to pros own sources none of these cases say anything about individuals and the act of prayer, they only prohibit government interference with prayer.

  • Pro says that government should be allowed to institute non-denominational group prayer and therefore he disagrees with some of these court decisions, though later reveals that it is really Christian-specific prayer he wants by using the Bible as a source to support his arguments. Con points out that whether anyone agrees with these case decisions is completely irrelevant. We are debating whether public prayer is illegal. We are not debating whether it should be illegal (obviously it isn't and obviously just about everyone here thinks it shouldn't be but that is irrelevant).

  • Pro says that government should be allowed to institute group prayers that people in the group can opt out of at the risk of social stigmatization and therefore he disagrees with some of these court decisions. Con points out that whether anyone agrees with these case decisions is completely irrelevant. We are debating whether public prayer is illegal. We are not debating whether it should be illegal (obviously it isn't and obviously just about everyone here thinks it shouldn't be but that is irrelevant).

  • Con makes the argument that if people are allowed to pray in public without getting in trouble with the law then public prayer is legal. Pro is unable to find any examples of any individuals or non-governmental groups getting in trouble with the law for praying in public.

I end this round with a second reminder to the voters that pro insisted on a rule that no new arguments be made by either side in the last round.
Pro
Conclusion:
 
I appreciate my opponent’s attempts to reveal my motivations and beliefs relative to this debate, but I’ll remind him and you that such matters are mine to reveal, or not, and I thank him to remain on his side of the fence. His argument is his to defend, not mine, and vice versa. 
 
1.    I do not, contrary to Con’s assertion, believe that government should institute non-denominational prayer. 
2.    I do not propose that only Christian prayer by use of the Bible be allowed. 
3.    I do not suggest that we ignore Supreme Court precedent.
4.    I do not say the government should be allowed to institute group prayer.
 
The above challenges Con's round 3 and I challenge Con to produce the evidence that I said any of these things. He cannot. They are of his interpretation of what I argued in two rounds, to wit:
 
Round 1:
 
II.a “The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States reads:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”  That settles Con presumptions 1, 2, & 4, above.
 
II.a.5 “We get the phrase, ‘separation of church and state’from Tom Jefferson, who held that sense of the relationship, and he got it from Roger Williams, 1644, during which time the Colonial Government, as said, financially supported religion. Note, however, that neither Williams not Jefferson wrote the Constitution; the former because he was dead, and the latter because he was, at the time, in France as the Colonies’ Ambassador to France, separated from church and state. So, let’s not misinterpret the Constitution because neither party had input to it. The “separation of church and state,” is not in the Amendment, and it cannot be put there as if the Supreme Court were designing a menu for a cafeteria. That’s not how it’s done. But, that is what they did.” That settles Con presumption 3, above. Even if we do ignore Supreme Court precedent, it is the law of the land, right or wrong, just as is statutory law.
 
The Supreme Court incorrectly interpreted the 1A in determining the New York State Board of Regents’ authorization of a state sponsored school prayer as violating the 1A injunction of the establishment clause,outlawing school sponsored prayer. I never said I supported school-sponsored prayer, as noted above, and, in fact, I do not. Con completely ignored my final statement of argument II.a.2 of round 1: “Note the condition of the recited prayer: voluntary. Mr. Engel’s children were not coerced to pray.” In other words, I support the voluntary decision for individuals to pray in private or public, silent or verbal. Period. I also believe the 1A is saying, by adding the following phrase, “… or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”that free exercise of religion is not establishment of religion, or “or” would not be an included word of distinction. Words mean things. Every single one of them. This interpretation, that establishment, but not by Congress, and free exercise of religion by the people, as I argued in round 1, are separate rights, is a correct interpretation of the 1A, and not just that Congress cannot establish a religion. The point being that prayer is highly preferable to alternatives, like stealing cars, and virtually everyone, at least those with common sense, understands the distinction.
 
I exhibited in my round 1 argument, II.a.4: “Abington School District v. Schempp [1963]was a similar First Amendment case citing violation of the establishment clause by virtue of Bible-reading in class in Pennsylvania, and reciting the Lord’s Prayer in public schools, and, again, ignoring the subsequent phrase, “…or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The decision also cited Engel v. Vitale [1962] as Court precedent.” My opponent concentrated on the Bible-reading in rebuttal, but ignored that the case also found “reciting the Lord’s Prayer,” a prayer in all respects, to be illegal to recite by their decision.
 
Con dropped this latter position taken by the Supreme Court regarding the Lord’s Prayer. His reasons are his own; I will not speculate. The drop is evident. Witness, from Con’s round 2: “Therefore if going forward we find some law or judicial decision that seems to forbid an act related to prayer in some way that doesn't necessarily mean that it forbids prayer. One may discern whether prayer is forbidden by such a law by asking themselves "If I simply start praying would I be violating the law or is there something else I need to do as well to be considered in violation of the law?" If there is some other act that is needed in addition to prayer for an action to be a violation of the law then perhaps that act is what is illegal.” What act? Perhaps stealing a car anddriving it?
 
 
Round 2
 
In round 2, Con introduced an ill-advised exemplary argument: the legality of driving a stolen car; that stealing a car is illegal, but driving it is not. It was ill advised, as I argued in my round 2, for two reasons:
 
1.    Driving a stolen car is illegal, as I argued with “18 USC §2312, which stipulates that not only the theft of a motor vehicle, but driving it when stopped and apprehended, or apprehended later and found to have driven the stolen vehicle, is two charges. It is illegal to both steal a vehicle and to drive a stolen vehicle.” 
2.    Trying to compare the driving of a stolen vehicle as legal to explain that public prayer is not illegal is an argument at cross-purposes for Con’s perspective, because both are illegal in the interpretation held by precedent of the Supreme Court, and by statutory law.
 
I exhibited in my round 1 argument, II.a.4: “Abington School District v. Schempp [1963]was a similar First Amendment case citing violation of the establishment clause by virtue of Bible-reading in class in Pennsylvania, and reciting the Lord’s Prayer in public schools, and, again, ignoring the subsequent phrase, “…or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The decision also cited Engel v. Vitale [1962] as Court precedent.” My opponent concentrated on the Bible-reading in rebuttal, but ignored that the case also found “reciting the Lord’s Prayer,” a prayer in all respects, to be illegal to recite by their decision.
 
Con dropped this argument, as well. Witness his round 3: “Con makes the argument that if people are allowed to pray in public without getting in trouble with the law then public prayer is legal. Pro is unable to find any examples of any individuals or non-governmental groups getting in trouble with the law for praying in public.” Correct; he was unable to find the sense of the Court’s argument in Abington School District v. Schempp [1963]. Perhaps by stealing cars instead of watching the Lord’s Prayer played out, and disallowed in Court precedent, just as the premise of this debate declares the condition, “The Outlaw of Public Prayer in the United States.”
 
 
I rest my case and encourage your vote for Pro.