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Why religion is a central pillar to the civil society

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In an article for the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Kay Coles James, president of the Heritage Foundation, argues that “the health of a civil society is dependent on religious expression and liberty.”  James is also the author of Transforming America from the Inside Out and has been featured by the Acton Institute before.

Religion has always been a central aspect of civil society because it makes up a very significant portion of those cultural institutions that unite, inspire, and guide a people.  But, James says, America has forgotten this: “Weekly church attendance is down among many Americans, and young people are more likely to consider religion unimportant. Among those who do believe in a higher power, only a slim majority of Americans now believe in the God of the Bible.”

Even George Washington warned the American people in his farewell address that “reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” The depressing reality, James says, is that as faith and fellowship “recede, ever-greater degrees of disconnectedness, despair, violence, and death are filling the void.”

But there is hope: “But just as our choices have led to these outcomes, so too can they lead us to a better place. Against Washington’s warning, we have excluded religious principle from our national morality. And in so doing, we have shaken the foundation on which our society was built, with terrible results. This corrosion can be corrected, if we so choose, and restoring religion’s role in our civil society—in our homes, communities, and country—is a critically important place to start.”

The full text of the article can be found here.

(Photo: Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons)

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Jenna Suchyta

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