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Fortnight for Freedom Reflection Day 5

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There is a further consideration. The religious
acts whereby men, in private and in public and out
of a sense of personal conviction, direct their lives to
God transcend by their very nature the order of terrestrial
and temporal affairs. Government, therefore,
ought indeed to take account of the religious life of the
people and show it favor, since the function of government
is to make provision for the common welfare.
However, it would clearly transgress the limits set to its
power were it to presume to direct or inhibit acts that
are religious.
Declaration on Religious Liberty
(Dignitatis Humanae), no. 3
December 7, 1965

Reflection for Day Five

What the Council Fathers teach in this short paragraph
is very important. They previously stated that
governments should not deny religious liberty. Here
they state what governments should positively do
with regards to religion. Since people, through their
religious beliefs, direct their lives toward God, governments
are positively to take this into account. Not
only should governments not hinder religious life,
they should also “show it favor.” Since religious belief
is a good within culture and society, governments
should foster and aid the good that religion brings
to the commonwealth. This does not mean that a
government should favor one religion over another or
that it should attempt to direct what religions should
believe or do. Rather, governments are to create an
environment in which religious life flourishes for the
good of all. In providing such an environment where
religious life prospers, governments contribute to the
good of individuals as well as to the good of society as
a whole.

How does religion contribute to the good of society?
In what ways might it hinder the good of society?
Do contemporary Western governments view religion
in a positive or negative light? How can governments
today foster or aid the good of religious belief?

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