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The question of a connection between religion and morality is one that can be answered by looking at the views of two separate schools of thought. One school is of the view that religion has nothing to do with morality because both are separate concepts. The other school of thought is of the opinion that religion is the foundation for morality and that morality cannot flourish in the absence of religion.
Those who do not see a correlation between religion and morality believe that people who are not religious can still be moral. Their argument is that morality does not stem from the teachings of any religion; rather, morality comes from the innate necessity and desire for social cohesiveness between individuals. A person with no religious affiliations knows the difference between right and wrong. Such a person will choose to do the right thing in a situation because of the necessity of such moral actions to keep the society functional. For instance, even people who do not profess to any religion know that the wanton killing of other individuals in the society will only lead to a state of anarchy and lawlessness.
The belief of the other school of thought is that religion and morality are intertwined because religion is the foundation for morality. The argument is that religious people are more moral and also less likely to do unseemly acts than people with no religion. This belief can be seen in some of the actions by the founding fathers of the United States. Some of these actions show that they believed that a society where religion and morality were linked would make the society better. An example is the wording of the motto of the United States: “In God We Trust.” The implication is that a belief and faith in a higher being is a guiding principle in the establishment of the society.
Some of the religious teachings that help establish a link between religion and morality can be seen from the teachings about fidelity and adultery. Most religious teachings do not sanction extramarital affairs; as such, religious people might exercise more restraint due to the doctrines that have been instilled in them due to their belief. The influence of religion and morality on the society can also be seen from the perspective that most religions promote and encourage most moral acts. For instance, almost all religions extoll their adherents to be charitable to the less fortunate.
I think most people, religious or non-religious, would like to believe they live their lives with a moral code. There are lines that shouldn't be crossed, and there are consequences for crossing them anyway. However, I also believe that religious observance can help strengthen that sense of morality. Rituals like church services and communion reinforce the idea that morality is important.
Having said that, I think some religious people lose sight of the fact that non-believers can and do have a sense of morality. It may not fit neatly into an organized religion's principles or teachings, but it's still a viable moral code. Morality and religion are related by a common sense of purpose, but they are not inseparable concepts.
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