Religion Supports the Family and Community


  • Religion strengthens families and unites communities in harmony, uniting individuals from different backgrounds, and drawing them together.  People find in churches what makes them better neighbors, parents and spouses.  Religion makes it easier to love and harder to condemn others.  People learn to adapt to rules, expectations, and motivations to do good things.   Religion teaches the Lord’s patterns for living, and brings a deeper meaning to life.  
  • Religion is one of the greatest influences in desirable behavior—it deters negative behavior.  It lowers the rate of unwed pregnancy, delinquency, crime, drug abuse, alcoholism, and suicide.  Religion is vital today as it prepares children for school, family, and life in a world which is sending mixed messages.  Studies have shown that families who attend church regularly are also healthier and have less divorce and depression than families who do not.  
  • Those who attend church regularly associate with other people who are being exposed to the same values.  Religious conviction is carried by Christians as a standard, not a burden. 
  • Religious grounding, which is absent in schools, must now be taught by parents, families, church attendance, and private investigation and study.  
  • Religion helps people think beyond themselves—such as, who will this affect, and am I doing what is right even if it costs more?  The Golden Rule teaches us to treat others as we would like to be treated.  Such virtuous-thinking people are needed in families, education, business and government.  Only then will individuals reach their greatest potential.
  • Many of today’s young people desire spirituality without religion, often choosing only that which doesn’t make strenuous moral demands on them.   Religion is the organization of spirituality.   
  • Most strong families and marriages include God in their daily life, not just Sunday. Although 75% of all marriages are performed in churches, many end in divorce.  Did those couples remain active in a church where they could receive counseling and support for married couples?  
  • When people live according to God’s laws, they are blessed.  We have 6,000 years of scriptural history which teaches us who God is and how His great plan works for all mankind.  The scriptures teach stories of God’s dealings with mankind through His prophets, and the blessings that come when His people are obedient.  The scriptures also teach us what happens when we fail to listen to the Spirit, and when we trust in the things of the world. Centuries of religious belief has been profoundly influential in shaping our notions of right and wrong. 
  • Government programs do not make a difference in making people better, because they cannot offer relationships.  Changing people’s behavior is done through relationships—a minister, parent, teacher, friend—people who cause us to want to develop our capacities.

  • Religious people tend to be much happier and more satisfied than the irreligious.  They cope better with crises; recover faster from divorce, bereavement, and being fired; enjoy higher rates of marital stability and marital satisfaction; are less likely to be depressed; are less like to become alcoholics or drug addicts; and are less likely to commit suicide or to commit crimes.   

    It may be in society's interest to encourage Christian practice, so far as it is in society's interest to encourage quality of life, enhanced health, happiness, coping, less crime, less depression, and other such benefits associated with religious involvement.  To the extent that weakened religious belief no longer inspires charity, governments will need to assume that role.  To the extent that religion no longer reduces crime and addiction, our societies and economies will suffer and governmental force will need to step into the breach.  To the degree that religion no longer mitigates depression and illness in the elderly, governments will face that challenge.  And if families continue to fragment and shrink--religious belief also probably encourages family formation and durability--they will do so with ever-dwindling resources.  Secularists increasingly question whether churches should enjoy tax exemption.  Perhaps they should ask, instead, how the state can more effectively support and nurture such useful private institutions.   ("How Religion Benefits All of Society," by Daniel Peterson, Deseret News, June 9, 2013, and "How the West Really Lost God," by Mary Eberstadt) 

  • "There is no significant example in history of (any) society successfully maintaining moral life without the aid of religion."  (Will and Ariel Durant) 

  • Take away the rich social fabric that religion has always been, and what you are left with are people who are uncertain about who they really are.  (David Brooks, New York Times column "How Covenants Make Us," April 5, 2016)  

  • True religion brings understanding of and loyalty to God.  It encourages love, forbearance, and forgiveness in our interactions with one another.  "Religion is the vehicle through which most folks learn and practice morality."  (Journalist William Saletan, "When Churches Do the Right Thing," Slate (blog), May 8, 2014)
  • Seventeen Magazine surveyed teens, and found that:
    • 82% say religion plays a significant part in their lives.
    • 80% pray regularly
    • 49% pray daily
    • 48% are against premarital sex
    • 64% are more religious than their parents
    • 44% have a plan to take an abstinence pledge
    • 71% wear modest clothing which is still fun and trendy
    • 50% do not want anyone having sex before marriage
    • 70% want a “pure image”  
  • Today’s generation of teens who have lived through a lot of challenges (9-11, environmental disasters, parents losing jobs, divorce) are looking for deeper answers in religion and spirituality.
Statistics
  • Over 150,000 Spokane County citizens, or 36% of our population, participate in 300 religious congregations.  http://www.city-data.com/county/Spokane_County-WA.html

  • The Bible has been translated into 2,800 languages. 

  • 4.9 billion people have a Bible in their first language. 

  • 91% of religious conservatives give to charitable causes, compared to only 67% of those who identify themselves as secular liberals. 

  • Those who pray daily are 30% more likely to give to charity than people who never pray.  Religious people are not giving only to churches.  They are far more likely to give food or money to the homeless and to donate blood, and even to return money from a cashier's mistake, or to express empathy for the less fortunate. 

  • 83% of religious Americans will volunteer in any given year. 

  • Believers live longer, healthier lives, as demonstrated by scores of studies. 

    • Strongly religious persons enjoy reduced risks of heart disease, strokes and high blood pressure or hypertension, than those who are less religious. 
    • People who never attend religious services are at the highest risk of early death, while those who attend more than once each week have the lowest such risk.   The average life expectancy of religious Americans is more than 7 years longer than that of the irreligious. 
    • Religion protects against mental illness.  Persons with strong, conservative religious beliefs are less depressed than those with weak and loose religious beliefs.  They are happier, less neurotic, and far less likely to commit suicide. 
    • Religious people heal more quickly from serious diseases and surgeries, such as coronary artery bypass surgery.  Remarkably, in victims of HIV four years after diagnosis, those who have become religious show noticeable lower rates of disease progression than do their unbelieving fellow-sufferers. 
    •  Religious people are less like to commit crimes.  All Americans are safer and their property more secure because this is such a religious nation (compared to irreligious Sweden where their citizens are far more likely to be the victim of theft or to be criminally assaulted).  The higher a city's church membership rate, the lower its rates of burglary, larceny, robbery, assault, rape, sexually transmitted disease and  homicide.  
    • Religious people are the primary source of charitable funds, not only for religious causes, but for secular philanthropies that benefit all victims of distress and misfortune.  They are far more likely to volunteer their time for programs that benefit society and to be active in civic matters.  
    • Religious people are more likely to marry and to stay married than their irreligious counterparts.  They also express greater satisfaction with their marriages and their spouses, and are far less likely to have extramarital affairs.  Religious husbands are substantially less likely to abuse their wives or children.  
    • Religious students tend to get better grades, score higher on all standardized achievement tests, are less likely to be expelled or suspended or to drop out of school, and are more likely to do their homework than their nonreligious counterparts.  
    • Religious Americans are, on average, more successful in their careers, obtain better jobs, and are less likely to find themselves unemployed or on welfare, than are the irreligious.   (America's Blessings:  How Religion Benefits Everyone, Including Atheists, by Rodney Stark, sociologist, October 2013) 
What You Can Do
  • Make religion important to your family.  If religion is important to kids, there will be no big generation gap between parents and children.
  • Prayerfully search for a religion.  Visit various churches with your family until you find a church which supports your family values.  Find a religion that everyone in the family can support and attend as a family.  The reason there are approximately 500 Christian churches in Spokane, is because they interpret the teachings in the Bible differently.  As a family, make up a list of questions you have, or things that matter most to you, such as,
    • What kind of programs do you have for children, youth and adults?
    • What is the purpose of life, trials and suffering?
    • What happens to me and my family after death?  
    • Was Jesus Christ literally the son of God, or just a great teacher?  
    • Does God still speak to man?  How can I know he still lives?  
    • How is your church like, or unlike, the teachings of Christ when he lived on earth? 
Ask various ministers to respond to your questions; and prayerfully ask God to help you find a church which meets your needs.   
  • Attend church as a family.  A strong marriage and family include God in their daily lives.  Religion is one of the greatest influences in desirable behavior.  It deters negative behavior—lowers the rate of unwed pregnancy, delinquency, crime, drug abuse, alcoholism, suicide and divorce.  Churches can help children find a peer group consistent with the time-honored values of their parents.  Worship services and activities also help parents teach their children a belief in a loving God and to honor the principles in His commandments.  
  • Promote spiritual strength in your home which will enable your children to be discerning and have the wisdom and courage to stand up under adversity.  
  • Teach your children to pray, and pray together as a family.  
  • Hang pictures of Christ (or other religious symbols) in your home.  
  • Read the scriptures together as a family (as well as personal scripture study).  
  • Discuss as a family what music and entertainment is appropriate for both children and adults.  Remember—what isn’t good for children usually isn’t good for adults either.
(Faith and Families Report)