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Lauren and Rob Hudson: Exceptionalism through respect for faith, a positive message for youth

Columns for families based on the book “It Can Be Done” @studentsleadusa

Every thoughtful person knows religion raises some of life’s biggest questions. Should a person believe in a higher, godly power? If so, is that godly power good, bad, or maybe even a little of both? What type of religion, if any, should a person practice?

The purpose of this column is not to say which religious faith, if any, people should have. Each person gets to make that decision on their own. This column explains why it’s important to respect a person’s decision to adopt a peaceful, earnest religious faith, even if we don’t agree with them.

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If you think only foolish people would believe in religion or a higher power, think again. Even if you’re sure you’re smarter than them, they could be right. Many things fit together perfectly for earth to support human life, such as our distance from the sun, our atmosphere, water, and much more. It is rational to wonder “How could all of this have happened without someone in charge?”

If you think “miracles” reported in many religions are automatic non-sense, think again. Millions of tiny miracles had to go just right for humans to exist.

Incredibly, many of our cells are programmed biologically from birth to grow into different parts of our body. Every person’s birth can be described as miraculous.

If you think religion is not worthwhile because some religious people seem rotten to the core, think again. Hypocrites exist in all walks of life, religion included. Evil, misguided people even fought wars in the name of religion. Just as you wouldn’t discard all your friends because one of them went rogue, you can’t reject religion because people have misused it to hurt others.

You might not like faith because you don’t want to feel like you answer to a higher authority, but there’s nothing exceptional about making snarky comments regarding another person’s faith. An exceptional person respects faith partly because religion helps many people lead a better life. For example, the teachings of Jesus Christ emphasize love, charity, humility, compassion, and forgiveness. It’s hard to argue against frequently studying, considering, and striving for virtues like these.

An exceptional person also respects faith partly because a free country like American will be more likely to struggle without morals. We are free to make bad choices or to hurt people and, usually, we face the consequences. Exceptional people with good morals, on the other hand, can avoid many of life’s messes.

President Theodore Roosevelt famously said, “To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.” A person can be moral with or without religion, but it’s naïve to think morals don’t affect our country. They affect billions of interactions each day. Plus, immoral voters aren’t likely to elect moral leaders.

While other governments forced choices about religion, in America we charted a different, respectful course. Many of our early settlers came here to freely practice religion. We later decided to respect faith enough to put religious freedom front and center in our Constitution. The most recent Pew Research studies indicate that about half of Americans put it front and center today, identifying themselves as being members of a religion.

For many Americans, nothing is more important than their religion. We are at our best when we respect one another, particularly when it comes to something as intensely personal as religion. We should make respecting faith a part of who we are as people. That good choice, made by hundreds of millions of Americans across centuries, helped America became exceptional in the first place.

Join us next week when we explore the common ground of education. Frost Brown Todd LLC Member Rob Hudson is a Past Chair of the Northern Kentucky Chamber and a recipient of its Frontiersman Award. Lauren Hudson, 2018 Independent Author of the Year, is a Singletary Scholar at the University of Kentucky.

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