Religion is a cultural system of beliefs, practices and ethics. It includes a belief in a transcendent supernatural power or deities and a set of values, such as reverence, humility, love, and compassion. It also includes a group of rituals and a belief that these practices bring about some sort of spiritual salvation. Among its other functions are the formation of family and community and support in times of trouble. It may also give hope in an otherwise unfulfilling natural universe and help us deal with the hard facts of life.
While the recognition of dependence on God is essential to religion, it is only a part of it. Man voluntarily turns himself to the God or deities on whom he feels dependent and in whom he recognizes his ultimate source of perfection and happiness.
Some critics object that to define religion in terms of institutions or disciplinary practices reflects Protestant biases. But this view confuses the structural and disciplinary aspects of religion with the more hidden mental states that religion involves.
In fact, many of the benefits of religion come from the emotional and cognitive impact of a belief in gods or spirits, even for people who do not actively practice a religious faith. In addition, the enduring relationships between believers and their communities are the foundation of society. The President and the Senate should look for judges who are sensitive to this role of religion in American life and understand the Founding Fathers’ intention that it be respected in public life.