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© International Baccalaureate Organization
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For first assessment in 2017
Candidate personal code: Session:
Theory of knowledge presentation planning document
Title of presentat
Indicate the duration of the presentation: minutes
Indicate the num
ber of participants in the presentation:
Candidate responses on this document must be typed and limited to a maximum of 500 words for the whole of the
Candidate section (not per field). It is not permitted to exceed the two sides of the candidate section.
Describe your r
eal-life situation:
State your central knowledge question (this must be expressed as a question):
Explain the connection between your real-life situation and your knowledge question:

To what extent does a lack of separation of church and state lead to the violation of human rights?

An Irish woman was forced to travel to the United Kingdom in order to obtain an abortion for her unborn child with a fetal abnormality. She then filed a complaint with the United Nations, which found that the 8th Amendment to the Irish constitution, a ban on abortions, violates human rights and subjects women to 'inhuman and degrading' treatment.


There's very little separation between the Catholic church and the Irish government. The 8th amendment was put to referendum and proponents campaigned on an almost exclusively religious platform. Public opinion has since shifted from traditional beliefs, indicated by the fact that Ireland became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote. The government will not put it to referendum. This amendment has led to the violation of human rights, which leads to my question.  


Separation of Church and State and the Violation of Human Rights


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© International Baccalaureate Organization 2016
Outline how you intend to develop your TOK presentation in the context of your real-life situation. Include analysis of your
main knowledge question and related knowledge questions as well as arguments and perspectives. Responses can be
presented in continuous prose or as a list of points:
Show the significance of your conclusions with particular reference to your real-life situation and indicate how those
conclusions might be relevant to other real-life situations:

8th Amendment

  • UN Decision

  • Amnesty International

  • Public Opinion/Implications of Brexit

Betsy Devos: Do people have rights that aren’t explicitly stated?

  • Proponent of school choice

  • Family goal since school prayer banned

  • Lawsuit brought by Detroit schools: do children have a right to literacy?

Mike Pence: Should religious justifications be used to create legislation?

  • “Christian First”

  • Appeals to Evangelicals

  • Record on reproductive/LGBT/women’s rights

  • Pre-election video asking people to pray

Ethics & Religion

  • The 8th amendment is unethical, as it forces women to carry unwanted pregnancies or travel abroad, usually alone

  • Deprives people of their rights to education, free speech, freedom of religion

  • Should a ‘majority religion’ be allowed to dictate government policy

  • How does the imposition of religion impact legislation



The conclusion reached for my initial question was that a government connected to religion can, and often does, cause human rights violations. Religion itself doesn’t, but because freedom of religion is a human right, it invariably leads to the imposition of religion on citizens. This is not the only right that is violated, but by virtue of the situation, this right–to freedom of religion–is violated.


Explicitly stated rights are not the only right afforded to people, for example, in the Detroit Public Schools situation, I argue that literacy is a right. While Betsy Devo claims it isn’t stated anywhere, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. In fact that Bill of Rights grants rights that aren’t explicitly outlined within the constitution. Additionally, the UN Declaration of Human Rights grants a right to education, which can be reasonably expanded to include a right to literacy. This can be relevant to other debates over needs, wants, and rights.


I believe that religion should be completely removed from government, especially while creating and justifying legislation. Pence’s drive to impose his evangelical beliefs on the country is a clear violation of this.


The overall conclusion for this topic is that by virtue of existing, a church controlled state leads to the violation of human rights, and that religious justification should not be used in order to shape legislation and policy initiatives.


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© International Baccalaureate Organization 2016
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k (0-10) for this presentation:
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comments to support your assessment of the presentation. These should include remarks on the extent to
which the knowledge question was well formulated and connected to the real-life situation, and on the effectiveness of the
arguments and TOK analysis.