Herb Titus squared off in a formal debate against Barry Lynn, Executive Director of the Americans United for Separation of Church and State before the American Vision Superconference held at the Ridgecrest Conference Center near Ashville, North Carolina. The topic was: “Does the No Establishment of Religion Guarantee Prohibit a Biblically-based Public Policy.”
Lynn took the affirmative, asserting that the U.S. Constitution makes no mention of God and this mandates that public policy must rest wholly on “secular” grounds.
Titus asserted the negative, contending that the “no establishment” clause itself is based upon the Bible, and apart from that basis, can neither be rightfully understood or applied. Titus rested his case on the constitution’s text and history, pointing out that Jefferson and Madison relied upon a definition of religion as a jurisdictional term dividing those duties – such as opinions and welfare -exclusively owed to God, as the Creator, which are enforcible only by reason and conviction from those duties – such as protecting innocent human life – which are also enforcible by the power of the State.
Lynn did not rebut this claim, preferring to concentrate on his contention that the Bible was so susceptible to a variety of interpretations that it was an unreliable source for public policy and that, as a religious book, the Bible was too divisive.
In response, Titus countered that, while there are differences of opinion about what the Bible says about public policy issues, that was no reason to make it constitutionally illegitimate as a source of public policy, as Lynn was contending.
It was Lynn’s view. however, that because Bible interpretation was so unreliable and so divisive that it should be excluded from the public debate. Titus observed that, if Lynn’s position were adopted as a matter of constitutional law, it would make second-class citizens those Americans who believe that the Bible does speak to public policy issues, as well as personal salvation.