When God began dying sometime ago during the Age of Reason, many thought this was the best thing to happen to humanity. With the death of God in society, no longer would humans be limited and censored by the Church and its many dictums and doctrines. Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher, declared that God had died and with the death of God, humans had become free, had become a law to themselves and could do whatever they pleased. Blame was placed on religion for all the ills in society and many began the call for a separation of church and state. Religion became relegated to the realm of unreason, a practice unsuitable for the advancement of humanity.

But despite the many blames ascribed to religion, there are many things to be said in its favor.

Studies have shown that continual religious attendance leads to an extra seven years of life expectancy, lowers blood pressure and improves the immune system. Furthermore, religious adherence has also been linked to lower levels of depression and lower dependence on alcohol and drugs.

The goal of most religions is for humans to live peaceably with love for one another. However, there are some who fail to understand this.  There are some overzealous adherents who mete out much cruelty to fellow humans who do not believe like they do. Religious zeal led to the crusades, the witch burnings and is responsible for the terrorism in many parts of the world today. But these heinous acts done throughout history, in the name of God and religion, are more the fault of humans than religion itself. No one who understands religion and adheres to its aim of love for all will actively mistreat others.

America, as a nation, began with trust in God. That all men were created equal is a religious dictum that is directly responsible for the end of slavery, for the demanding of gender parity and end to all forms of discrimination. Many times in history, America has come to the defense of the oppressed and opened its arms to offer succor to people fleeing cruelty. All of this was done for love of others, a law preached by religion. If people feel America has shifted from its foundational values, it is because the nation is no longer as religious as it used to be.

Utah is one of the few states that is still actively influenced by religion. There is little doubt that much of the state’s success is tied to the LDS church’s influence. Studies show that Utah family life is first in the nation with the highest number of married adults and percentage of children raised by married parents. With support from the LDS church, Utah’s Housing First policy reduced the number of its homeless population by 90%, an achievement that made headlines around the country. Utah has been ranked many times by Forbes as the best state for doing business and has the highest rates of absolute upward mobility in the nation, which is the likelihood of people to move from poverty to wealth. The state is also top in the nation for income equality, job growth and ranks third in employment equality by race. Utah’s higher education is ranked second in the country and has the lowest number of students with no debt at graduation.

Much of the peace and achievements in Utah can be linked to the religious outlook of the people and the influence of the LDS church. The problems associated with religion are caused by human failings and not the fault of religion itself. If everyone adheres to the doctrine of love, which is intrinsic to all religion, much of the strife and sufferings in our world would be gone.