Our religious freedoms benefit the community |

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July seems like an appropriate month to highlight some of the benefits and blessings that religious freedom brings to society as a whole and to us as individuals, whether we consider ourselves religious or not.

A Chinese student studying democracy in America explained why religion plays such an important role in a free society: “In your past, most Americans went to church or synagogue every week. When you were there, from a young age, you were taught that you had to voluntarily obey the law; that you should respect other people’s property and not steal it. You were taught never to lie and to respect the life and freedom of others as well as your own. Americans followed these rules because they had come to believe that even if the police didn’t catch them when they broke a law, God would. Democracy works because most people voluntarily obey your laws most of the time.

Those who grow up learning to follow the Ten Commandments, to treat people as Jesus Christ would, and that we will all answer for our behavior to our Creator have an internal moral code that doesn’t need a plethora of laws. governing behavior. Someone once asked Joseph Smith, founder and first President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, how he could govern so many people so well.

He replied, “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.

This is true of all religious people who have a high moral code of conduct. They have an internal belief system that does not rely on external laws to tell them what is right and what is wrong. God’s laws do that.

D. Todd Christofferson explains, “Religious conscience encourages the virtues and habits of good citizenship that are necessary for a free society: honesty. To have to. Moral self-discipline. Sacrifice for family and country. Compassion and service to others. civic engagement.”

Religious freedom and religious people benefit communities in many ways. One of them is through charitable donations. Religious individuals and institutions are huge sources of humanitarian aid, volunteerism and donations to charitable causes.

Data from the Philanthropy Panel Study, a project of Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, found a “staggering difference between the charitable giving practices of people with religious affiliation and those without religious affiliation” .

It showed that 62% of religious households donated to charity compared to just 46% of non-religious households. A Pew Research Center study found that 45% of people who regularly attend religious services had volunteered in the previous week. Only 28% of Americans who did not attend religious services volunteered. Here are some other facts about the good that religious people and organizations do:

Religious hospitals care for 20% of hospitalized patients in the United States

Religious adopt children at 2.5 times the national rate

Religious take children into foster care for three more years

Christians make up the majority of the volunteers who supervise the prisoners

Churches provide the most day-to-day resettlement assistance for refugees and asylum seekers arriving in the United States

58% of emergency shelter beds are serviced by faith-based providers

Churches recruit the bulk of volunteers who run organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Meals on Wheels, Big Brothers, Big Sisters and other volunteer dependent charities, food pantries, food programs, etc. .

These are some of the many positive contributions that religion and religious people make to our culture and society. These contributions alone guarantee the perpetuation of the fundamental human right of religious freedom.

Christians are motivated by the two great commandments: “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength: this is the first commandment.

And the second is like, namely this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:30-31).

The words of George Washington ring true: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morals are indispensable supports.

Kristine Gifford is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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