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This Critical Debate is part of a Debate Comparison:

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Less than 30 minutes
  • Politics
  • Religious Liberty
  • 9-12
  • College/University

Looking Back: 9/11 Connections

Use the artifact viewer to explore the image below and discuss the following questions:

  • What happened/is happening in this image? What story does it tell?
  • How is this image connected to the events of Sept. 11, 2001?
  • How could you use this image to make an argument about the state of freedom in the U.S.? About national security?

What would you do if your job at a public agency required you to do something that went against your religious beliefs?

You are a county clerk. This is an elected position that requires you to carry out a range of official business for residents of the county. One of your duties is to issue marriage licenses to couples who wish to wed.

Following a recent Supreme Court decision, you learn that you will now be required to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. You are devoutly religious, and your religion does not approve of gay or lesbian couples getting married. You do not feel comfortable issuing licenses to them.

What do you do?

  1. Refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

    You should not have to violate your religious beliefs for the sake of your job.

  2. Issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

    Your personal beliefs are unchanged, but your job requires you to set those beliefs aside while you are at work.

  3. Find someone else in your office who can take over issuing licenses to same-sex couples.

    As long as you do not personally have to sign off on the marriages, you will not be violating your religious beliefs.

  4. Resign.

    It is impossible to both honor your religious beliefs and carry out your job responsibilities.

  5. Something else.

    Explain your idea.

  • In what other types of situations might an individual’s religious beliefs come into conflict with their professional responsibilities? How should these conflicts be handled?
  • How does the fact that you are an elected official working for the government affect this situation? How would your situation be the same/different if you were working for a private company?
  • Should individuals running for public office have to disclose their religious beliefs to voters, including any potential conflicts between their beliefs and their duties if elected?

Have students use the Analyzing Evidence and Making Your Argument handouts to collect and organize additional information about the case, then form an argument supported by evidence. Give groups 30 minutes to prepare, or assign as homework. (Note: Students may wish to organize their sources and evidence using a spreadsheet, such as Google Sheets.)

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