It is a unique and special time now because Christians, Jews, and Muslims all are engaged in major holidays of religious contemplation and renewal: Christians with Holy Week and Easter, Jews with Passover, and Muslims with Ramadan.
We’re talking billions around the world. So, although in our time there has been a retreat in various circles from religion, it still remains a major force and presence in our world.
In our own USA, as I have touched on in columns past, the number identifying with religion and attending religious services has dropped.
Per Pew Research, now about 40% of Americans monthly attend religious services either in person or viewing online or on TV. If we consider 40% of the U.S. adult population—those over 18—we’re talking about more than 100 million Americans engaged in an active way with religion.
So, although on a percentage basis, engagement with religion has dropped, it still remains a major factor among the American population.
Why should we care?
Looking at the three major religions—as noted, all engaged today in major holidays—we see on the surface different narratives and traditions.
But regarding the rules for living that emerge out of these different traditions, there is remarkable common ground.
They all view as sacrosanct life, family, and property. That is, the basic rules conveyed to each individual regarding how to live a meaningful, responsible and successful life, and how to engage and relate to one’s neighbors, are remarkably similar.
That raises an important point that gets too little attention.
Certainly, in our country and in the Western world, few words get more use than the word “freedom.”
But the freedom we hear so much about is freedom in the political sense. Is this or that country, or society, “free”?
According to the words composed by Thomas Jefferson in our Declaration of Independence, we are all born with rights and “to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men.”
And, in the stirring conclusion of the Declaration, the signers declared the American colonies, “free and independent states.”
The focus was government and politics. But outside of government protecting freedom, where does each individual find his or her personal freedom they want protected?
It was George Washington, whom I often quote, that pointed out that no beautifully designed government will work if, at the individual level, we do not have morality and religion. We see every day that beautifully designed political systems and governments fail if, at the individual level, there is wanton and irresponsible behavior.
So, the core of a free society is free choice at the individual level, and the core of free choice at the individual level is right and wrong. If there is no right and wrong, what does it matter what individuals choose?
Presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy has pointed out that “woke” culture is a form of religion. And he is right. Individuals may reject the truths of religion as we know them, but it remains for them to choose what they will accept, on faith, to be true. If they reject religion, so they must invent one.
Once we believe that traditional truths, good and evil passed down through the generations, interfere with our personal freedom, rather than enable it, and that we can make everything up, meaning and personal responsibility are lost.
We then see more and more horrible incidents like the most recent killings in a Christian school in Nashville, Tennessee, by a very lost and confused individual.
It’s no accident that socialist societies are godless societies. They think they can make everything up.
During this special season, when so many continue to appreciate that there is meaning and truth in this world, let our prayers be directed that this continues and that more and more will begin to understand that the source of our personal freedom is our Creator, and not government.
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