The Social Problems of Religion

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Religion achieves its highest social ministry when it has least connection with the secular institutions of society.  In past ages, since social reforms were largely confined to the moral realms, religion did not have to adjust its attitude to extensive changes in economic and political systems.  The chief problem of religion was the endeavor to replace evil with good within the existing social order of political and economic culture.  Religion has thus indirectly tended to perpetuate the established order of society, to foster the maintenance of the existent type of civilization.

But religion should not be directly concerned either with the creation of new social orders or with the preservation of old ones. True religion does oppose violence as a technique of social evolution, but it does not oppose the intelligent efforts of society to adapt its usages and adjust its institutions to new economic conditions and cultural requirements.

Religion did approve the occasional social reforms of past centuries, but in the twentieth century it is of necessity called upon to face adjustment to extensive and continuing social reconstruction.  Conditions ‘of living alter so rapidly that institutional modifications must be greatly accelerated, and religion must accordingly quicken its adaptation to this new and ever-changing social order.

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