Religion is a structure wherein answers are sought and found that cannot be answered by empirical study. It is true that religion can answer questions that are also answered through empirical study, but it goes one step further. Religion works in subjectivity where science works in objectivity. The scientific method of hypothesis and experimentation is also used in religion. Religion is simply another structure and method for finding truth.
As a structure religion is one of the three pillars of socialization. Churches represent communities of people united in belief and hope, or in other words, faith. Through religion people learn moral codes and develop a relationship between self and others, self and the world, and self and God. The specifics vary among different cultures and sects of faith, but the underlying principles are the same. Religion is an important partner in socialization with family and schools, which represent the three major environments children develop in, at least in the United States. Other cultures will likely have other agents of socialization.
The United States was founded with a devotion to God and freedom of religion. After fleeing countries with state imposed churches it was the interest of the American founders to develop a land free from such impositions. People were to be free and to choose how to worship, when to worship and what to worship. The hope was that all people could embrace this and all faiths would live in harmony, sharing their best with each other and strengthening one another. This is society’s demand for faith leaders, to promote this approach to religion. Faith leaders need to be inviting and not divisive. Religious instruction is integral to societal function. Our culture is so intertwined with Judeo-Christian values that without religion the family and the school can still teach the same moral codes, but with continued changes in our culture this will become less evident.
There is a battle against religion, labeling it controlling and invasive, but it isn’t religion that should be blamed, it is people and in some cases churches, meaning congregations of people. There are certainly faith leaders who misuse their calling to control, impose and glut themselves on people who believe their messages. Terrible violence and privation have occurred throughout history in the name of religion, but these were false religions. Religion is a method of living and finding answers to questions, but it must direct towards good outcomes, otherwise it is a counterfeit religion and not from the true God. This is my own additional definition to religion. Religion should uplift, unite and encourage growth. These are the contributions of true religion to society, and this is what society needs faith leaders to promote.
Our society consists of great differences, which makes it stronger. Among our differences are a lot of similarities and it is the similarities that we must embrace in order to become unified. Families can and should provide all of the necessary socialization for children, but when schools and faith leaders work in conjunction with families the results are optimal. We face a challenge today where the family is being redefined with every change of the wind. Schools have lost focus in the face of political correctness and financial issues. Churches are either being attacked for maintaining traditional values, or they are losing their own way and attacking others, thereby sullying the name of religion for everyone.
In the interest of maintaining a functional society where liberty and freedom exist, we need an all around concerted effort to focus on the socialization of children. Family, school and church need to be restored and to teach truth and unity. This will happen through reliance on God. Through faith. Faith is where courage comes from and courage is needed now to defeat the enemies of personal liberty.