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Claremont Colleges Debate Union: The Church-State Controversy

Since its founding, the United States has struggled with the relationship between civil and religious affairs. Should church and state be separate? Should public life accommodate more religious influence? How should the boundaries of religious practice, private behavior, and government rules be drawn? Debates rage from the religious practices of the Founders and the original intent of the Establishment Clause to due process, privacy, free exercise, and equal protection arguments regarding reproductive rights, restrictions on the legislative power to tax, school prayer, and the “War on Santa.”

Two recent controversies—the legal status of same-sex relationships and federal funding for faith-based community service initiatives—have produced animated public and private debates and discussions. Does the government have a place in the bedroom — should the government regulate marriage? Is the purpose of faith-based initiatives to subsidize an expansion of a select ministry or efficiently distribute goods and services to the needy? Please join members of the Claremont Colleges Debate Union and representatives of college Democratic and Republican parties for a debate on these issues.

The Claremont Colleges Debate Union is the nation’s largest and among the most successful college debate societies. Students have won three national championships and placed in the top ten in the nation for 14 consecutive years; they have won top honors at international contests in the United Kingdom, Canada, Korea, and China. The Debate Union’s public events, professional communication, and educational outreach programs are without peer.