Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Do Americans Follow Jesus Christ?

The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is that there is only one way to true freedom – to follow Jesus Christ. America was founded by people who were seeking to practice their religion. The founding fathers adopted the motto “In God We Trust.” The United States was founded on Christian principles. It has fallen into the abyss that we now find ourselves because we have fallen away from following Christ on both the governmental level and the personal level.

Ancient prophets warned about falling away from Christ. The same message is given time after time in the ancient record known as the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, where the message is found numerous times throughout the one-thousand-year history contained in the book. Here is one of the many samples of the warning given by the prophet Lehi to his children as reported by his son Nephi.

5 But, said he, notwithstanding our afflictions, we have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands….

7 Wherefore, this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever….

20 And he hath said that: Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land; but inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from my presence. (2 Nephi 1:5, 7, 20)

If the freedom of America depends on how well we keep God’s commandments, how are we doing? According to Kelsey Dallas in an article in the Deseret News, Pew Research Center did a recent survey to investigate what is meant when Americans call themselves “spiritual,” “religious,” “both,” or “neither.” 

70% of U.S. adults who can be considered spiritual in some way, certain beliefs about souls, spirits and science are generally held in common.

But members of the group have conflicting ideas about spiritual practices like meditation and varying relationships with religious institutions and ideas….

For much of U.S. history, describing yourself as “religious” was about as uncontroversial as calling yourself “American.” A large majority of adults, as well as children, belonged to a faith group and attended worship services regularly.

But in recent decades, the term “religious” has experienced a subtle and then increasingly more significant fall from grace …. A growing group of Americans is dropping out of organized religion, and even those who remain active can be uncomfortable with the term…..

Pew’s new report includes evidence to [back up conclusions]. For one thing, researchers found that Americans often cite religious concepts like God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit when asked to explain what “spiritual” means to them.

“Fully 27% give descriptions tied to organized religion,” Pew reported.

The survey identified a large overlap between religiosity and spirituality. Most of the 70% of U.S. adults who think of themselves as spiritual or describe spirituality as important to them also say they’re religious or that religion is important.

“There is enough overlap between what people mean by ‘spirituality’ and what they have in mind by ‘religion’ that nearly half of U.S. adults indicate they are both religious and spiritual,” Pew reported.

Pew’s survey on American spirituality was conducted from July 31 to Aug. 6 among 11,201 U.S. adults.

In general, Pew found that there’s not a clear dividing line between spirituality and religion. The 22% of Americans who fall into the category of spiritual but not religious have much in common with those who are spiritual and religious….

For example, similarly large shares of the spiritual but not religious and the religious and spiritual believe that people have a soul or spirit, that there is something spiritual beyond the natural world and that unseen spiritual forces exist.

“On many questions, ‘spiritual but not religious’ Americans … are no more spiritual, on average, than U.S. adults who are both religious and spiritual,” Pew reported.

Still there are some key differences, such as that the spiritual but not religious are much less likely than others to believe in the God of the Bible. But members of this category do often believe in a higher power or spiritual force, Pew found.

The survey also showed that the spiritual but not religious are less likely to attend worship services regularly and more likely to hold negative views of organized religion….

The spiritual but not religious category “holds together primarily in its negative self-identification as not being religious rather than with a positive set of practices and beliefs around being spiritual” ….

Pew’s new report and the broader realm of spirituality research holds good news and bad news for religious leaders….

The good news is that a large share of Americans believes in or at least remain interested in religious concepts like God, the afterlife and miracles. The bad news is that it’s unclear how to get someone who identifies as spiritual but not religious to come to church….

Pew’s in-depth report could deepen understanding of how American’s relationship to religion and spirituality is evolving….

We should be grateful that 70 percent of Americans consider themselves to be spiritual even though a portion of that percentage are leaving organized religion behind. They are the people who claim that they can feel as close to God in the mountains or at the beach as they can in church. However, modern-day scripture tells us that we should “go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day; For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from our labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High” (Doctrine and Covenants 59:9-10). We should do these things with thanksgiving, cheerful hearts, and cheerful countenances (Doctrine and Covenants 59:15).

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