Liberal Religions Have Not Kept Their Promises
Editors Note: We have argued for many years that one strong evidence of the validity of the Christian system is that it brings greater happiness, satisfaction, and fulfillment in life. The following article by Dr. Laura Schlessinger, expresses our view on this in a clear and direct way. We hope you will find it interesting.
Feeling cynical about current events and pessimistic about the future? Ever wonder why, in spite of research "telling" us that crime is down and prosperity is up, more and more of us, at younger, and younger ages, are depressed, and creating a booming anti-depressant pill and herb market? Why, in this time of incredible technology that makes our lives easier, of medicines, and hygiene that let us live longer, and with the virtual freedom to go anywhere and do anything, are we so unhappy?
In a recent newspaper Q&A with University of Pennsylvania professor Martin Seligan, renowned for his work on optimism, he was asked which religions seemed to be most optimistic, and therefore have a positive influence. He answer was stunning in its refutation of the prevalent negative notions about formal religions: "In our study, we looked at 11 major religions in America, and how hopeful, and optimistic the adherents were. We looked at the level of optimism in the stories the children were told as well as in the liturgy, and sermons. We found strict Calvinists, Roman Catholics, and Orthodox Jews were the most hopeful and optimistic, while Unitarians and Reformed Jews tended to be more pessimistic. The fundamentalist religions simply seem to offer more hope for a brighter future than do the more liberal, humanistic ones."
How can that be? The liberal movements in all religions promised that great happiness and fulfillment would come from renouncing traditional ritual, and observances as ancient, and irrelevant. The freedom to make for oneself a designer religion better suited to individual preferences and desires, and turning God and religion inside out to make the feel-good sensations of "spirituality" more important than a recognition of our obligation to each other and God were supposed to be the "answer."
It is an experiment that failed. Without church and synagogue, people lose the sense of connection and belonging that comes from group worship and communal experience. There is sufficient research that finds a positive correlation between worship attendance and mental and physical health, including adequately coping with life's adversities.
Also lost in the liberalization of religion were the inspiration, education, and reinforcement of ideals and values that come from regular prayer, study, worship, discussion, and listening, to challenging sermons. When these experiences are shared with friends and family, relationships develop a depth and strength born of a mutual respect and commitment to commonly held ideas and behavioral standards. With such shared commitment, people feel safer with each other. This sense of safety allows for deeper intimacy, trust, and caring.
It has been a long-standing slur against the religious that they are a weak lot who need the crutch of religion, the opiate of the masses. On the contrary, it takes an immense amount of strength to stand up against the prevailing immorality--a virtual free-for-all of recreational sex, shacking up, out-of-wedlock births, casual drug use, infidelity, gossip, vulgarity, and public viciousness. With the resultant destruction of families, children, society, and psyches, this is less freedom than free fall.
Much scorn is leveled at those who maintain that simply because we can do something, we may choose not to out of a sense of righteousness, morality, and holiness. I've lost count of how many callers cannot figure out why something should be "wrong" if they think it's OK. Possible negative consequences are viewed as worth a risk when immediate gratification is available.
Salvation is an extremely important point with respect to optimism. Life is definitely not fair. God is fair. God is compassion and justice. While some life experiences may be demoralizing, damaging, or outright evil, those who have strong, God-centered lives have hope born out of a relationship with God and their belief in ultimate justice. With a God-centered life, people also find meaning, and purpose beyond the secular measures of success, fame, beauty, and money.
--Dr. Laura Schlessinger Dallas Morning News, March 4, 1999, page 8C
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