The Outlaw of Public Prayer in the United States
The debate is finished. The distribution of the voting points and the winner are presented below.
After 3 votes and with 7 points ahead, the winner is...
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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.
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.
Not said is whether the offered prayer by Con was verbal or silent; Con only says there is no initial response by the cop.
...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.
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.” 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.
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 
II.a Sure, by actual language, the “summary” quoted by Con regarding the Engels v. Vitale 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.
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).”
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 , 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.” 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 , Lee v. Weisman , and Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe , 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.
Sure, by actual language, the “summary” quoted by Con regarding the Engels v. Vitale 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 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.
“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.”
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.
- 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.