high school class debate

Students will form two teams to debate the Church's call to responsible citizenship and the moral obligation to participate in the political process. One team argues in favor of civic engagement viewed through the lens of faith and the other team presents reasons why religion and politics shouldn't mix.


  • To identify and understand Catholic social teaching as it relates to civic engagement;
  • To critically reflect upon the call to "faithful citizenship" as presented by the U.S. Catholic Bishops;
  • To understand and personally appropriate the call to enter the public forum;
  • To realize responsible citizenship is a virtue;
  • To recognize participation in the political process as a moral obligation.


  1. Students in the class will form two groups, one arguing in support of the civic engagement of U.S. Catholics and one arguing in favor of a division between faith and political engagement.
  2. As a class, discuss the statement on Faithful Citizenship.
  3. Each group will detail supporting evidence for its position from outside sources, including American and Church history, mainstream American thought, Church documents, and Scripture, to support their position.
  4. Each group will have five minutes to present their argument and evidence. The opposing side will have two minutes to refute.
  5. After both sides present their arguments, discuss as a class the results of the debate. Discussion may be facilitated using one or more of the following questions:
    • What do we as Catholics believe about how people should be treated in our society? From where do these beliefs stem?
    • What kinds of things do we believe people should have to live a decent life? Why?
    • Why do you think our Church teaches that voting is an important thing for Catholics to do? What is your experience about how Catholics view their responsibility to vote as related to their faith? Ask two adults you know how they feel about this.
    • What kind of leaders does our society need? For what, in particular, should they stand and how should they lead?
    • What are some issues that are discussed in the campaign that have ethical or moral dimensions? How does our faith call us to address them?
    • What are some examples of public policies from the past and present that have been harmful to people (legalized abortion, slavery, lack of voting rights for minorities and women)? How might we apply Catholic social teaching to those issues? How would those policies change based on a faithful response by constituents?
    • How would we respond when others question why the church gets involved in political and economic issues rather than focusing exclusively on the spiritual dimension of life?