When something needs to be saved, we can assume it is drowning or somehow lost. It appears that religion in America is beginning to fit into that category. According to Pew Research Center polling, "The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public —and a third of adults under thirty—are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever."
This is tragic, particularly in light of the fact that this country was founded on a strong belief in religion and the right of citizens to practice their religion without interference from government or others. Brave people have died for us to protect this right. Now it is our job to keep it alive.
Define what matters
How do we keep religion alive and well in America? We can't leave it to others. Examine what it is you are teaching and exemplifying in your own family. Hopefully, you are building a foundation of faith in God and consideration for others. Or perhaps you fall into the category of putting wealth and acquisition of things as your goal in life.
The Reverend S.G. Winchester, more than a century ago in his article "The Importance of Family Religion," made this timeless observation: "The conversation and conduct of some parents, make the impression on the minds of their children, that happiness consists in the possession of wealth or fame, or in the indulgence of fashion, pleasure, or amusement. Hence, as we might expect, this impression (than which nothing can be more erroneous) gives character and direction to all the exertions and aims of their children through life. The chief business of life they suppose to be to acquire wealth, or expend it in the indulgence of the various animal passions."
Worldly things are temporary
Giving your children the impression that having money and things is the way to true happiness is the road to the very opposite. Wealth and possessions can disappear in an instant. All it takes is one catastrophic tragedy. If that happens, what do children have to hang on to? What do you as parents have to hang on to? Or perhaps the biggest tragedy is no tragedy at all, and they never experience the importance of compassion and caring for others that religion teaches. It doesn't take a tragedy to know the peace and joy that religion can bring into one's life. It takes everyday living of gospel truths.
We're not suggesting it is wrong to create a well-thought-out financial plan for your family. That's an important part of providing family security. However, we are suggesting there is far more to life than focusing heavily on the acquisition of money. To have the kind of security that really matters boils down to having a faith in God and actively participating in your religion on a regular basis. That will be what holds a family together and, in the end, what holds a nation together. No disaster can take that away. In fact, it's what carries people through disasters.
This kind of religious foundation has to start at home. Cathy Lynn Grossman pointed out in a USA TODAY article that, "Sixty percent of Americans can't name five of the Ten Commandments, and 50 percent of high school seniors think Sodom and Gomorrah were married."
That may seem appalling to some, but what about your children? Do they know the basic teachings of the Bible? It can only happen when Bible reading and application of religious principles take place in the home.
Now is a good time to create a religious plan for your family. If you don't attend a church and are wondering what church would be good for you, click here for a few suggestions. The main thing is to take action and bring religion into your home. Take these few steps to make it happen.
1. Read the Bible with your family
Do it even if it's just a few passages a day. Let it be part of your morning preparation for the day or your nightly ritual before bedtime. Watch how this will bring a feeling of peace and love into your family.
2. Put reminders in your home
These can be a picture of Jesus or a saying that depicts your religious belief. Refer to it from time to time so it becomes part of your children's thinking. When they see that it matters to you, it will more likely matter to them.
3. Pray together as a family
Kneel together and thank God for all His goodness to you. Ask for His help. Click here for ideas regarding family praying together.
Let it be your family habit. There is strength to be gained as you associate with friends at church. You share in each other's joys and sorrows. You strengthen each other's faith. You learn how to help one another in times of need. It's comforting to be surrounded with other believers.
It is the basic moral principles found in religion that secures a nation and keeps it strong. It's up to every person to ensure religion remains vibrant and active. It begins at home and is passed down from one generation to another. That is what will save religion in America — or in any other country.