The Importance of Religion in American Society


Religion is human beings’ relation to that which they regard as holy, sacred, absolute, spiritual, divine, or worthy of especial reverence. In some traditions, these concerns are expressed in terms of relations with and attitudes toward gods or spirits; in others, they are more generally reflected in the way people deal with ultimate concerns about the nature of the universe and their place in it. In most religions, these concerns are embodied in ritual practices and in the belief that certain texts or individuals are invested with scriptural or moral authority.

The goal of religion is man’s happiness and perfection. In the lower religions, this goal is crudely conceived in terms of prosperity and physical comfort; in the higher, it entails communion with the Deity and participation in the supernatural life of grace. Both of these goals can be achieved only by faith. Faith is essentially the belief that the Deity has revealed to man the means of attaining his desired ends.

Most religions teach a range of practical teachings on how to treat fellow humans and how to live a beneficial life, often encouraging participants to work for social change. In addition, scientific studies suggest that practicing religious and spiritual traditions improves health, learning, economic well-being, self-control, emotional stability, empathy, and social connections, which help individuals cope with stress.

The President should appoint and the Senate should confirm judges who are sensitive to religion’s important role in American society. The relegation of religion to the margins of public life is a major threat to American culture and weakens our national character.