God in America
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"Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be. All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also;.."

How Do You Imagine God?
God in America and USA WEEKEND Magazine are partnering to explore Americans' images of God.

How do you imagine God? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator As a teenager I sat in my back yard on a summer day reading the scripture mentioned above. I interpreted this to mean that I have within me something that was never created even by God himself: a part called an 'intelligence' - something that is the real me. Because of this 'intelligence,' I have the ability to recognize truth, make my own choices, create new things and recognize right and wrong. These ideas also gave me insight into who God is. They explained why I cannot blame God for my behavior. God did not 'program me' but instead gave this intelligence of mine a home and opportunities to learn. The scripture also said that God's glory consists of his knowing all truth and acting responsibly with that knowledge. I was able to look up to God as a 'higher intelligence' - someone I could trust and learn from.

My Beliefs

I believe ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator That God lives and is a loving Heavenly Father to all of the people on this earth. That Jesus Christ is the Son of God whose gift to mankind is the opportunity to live after we die, and also to obtain 'spiritual life', which is the same as the ability to continue to grow and learn throughout eternity. - That families can be sealed to us for eternity. - That it is in the family that we can learn many important principles. - That Truth is a knowledge of reality. That we can know truth. That God knows all truth, and that he is willing to share all truth with us if we keep His commandments.
My most powerful moment of belief was ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator An experience I had at the age of 18 in which I learned to stop judging religion using the scientific method, and start judging science from the viewpoint of God. The Book of Mormon helped me to understand that the pride of educated people often leads them to discount the intelligence of God.
My greatest moment of doubt was ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator During high school, I struggled to know what the purpose of religion is. I was helped by a college professor who helped me understand that 'there is no progress divorced from Jesus Christ.' I learned that there are two ways to learn truth: 1) by study, and 2) by faith, meaning through prayer and study of scriptures. Agnosticism and humanism were perhaps the greatest challenge to my religious beliefs.
My spiritual life means... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator The way I live each day. It means that each day I thank God for the opportunity to live on this earth. God helps me to count my blessings. Realizing these things makes me more able to deal with the adversities inherent in life.
The biggest misconception about my faith/belief system is ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator People do not believe that God is a being like ourselves (except that He is perfect). They do not see that the earth testifies of a being higher than ourselves, and of a higher purpose to life than just living from day-to-day. Scientists are not able to visualize or measure the human spirit, therefore, people do not know that we have within us an 'intelligence' or 'spirit' which has always existed and that will continue to exist after we die. The concept of 'truth' is not clearly understood by people. Truth is our understanding of reality. God does not change truth, but only tries to get us to understand it.
My spiritual role model is ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Jesus Christ is my role model. He has told us that becoming like Him should be our goal in life. His living prophets on the earth, the scriptures, and the Holy Spirit help us to apply our understanding of Christ to everyday decisions in our lives.
The tenet/practice/teaching I appreciate most about my faith is ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator A clear understanding of the nature of God, and of his son, Jesus Christ. An understanding of the concept of truth, and the idea that the Holy Ghost can teach us truth that is not obtainable through scientific means. An understanding of what the Atonement of Jesus Christ was and how it affects us, namely, that the Atonement is a demonstration of the intensity with which God, our Father, and his Son, Jesus Christ desire us to forgive one another and to repent of our sins.

My Faith History

My spiritual journey has been ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Learning why I am an free individual, and that God is a person was important early in my life. My high school years in the 60's was heavily involved in Science, and I have spent my career as a biologist. The creations of God have always inspired me as has attending Church meetings. I served as a missionary for 2 years in which I was able to see how people's lives can be transformed by a testimony of Jesus Christ.
I was raised as ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Are your beliefs or practices different from your parents? If so, how and why? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator My parent's example and teachings have been a powerful influence, but I have had to learn for myself the same truths that they have shared with me.
If you have children, did becoming a parent change your relationship to faith? If so, how? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Having children has taught me many things about what God must feel toward His children. The experience has made me believe more in God and to be more thankful for the experience of living on earth.

How I Practice My Faith

Where and when do you practice your faith? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator I like the word 'practice' because that is what it is. We practice living every day in all the situations of life. It is very helpful to meet each Sunday with other people in the Church that have the same goal as we do, and to learn from them, and to re-commit ourselves through partaking of the sacrament.
Does your family practice more than one religion or faith? If so, how do you blend the traditions? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Our seven children have been benefited from the true principles taught by our religion.
How easy or difficult is it to live your faith? Why? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Living my faith is lot easier than trying to live without it! I expect it to be hard in some ways, but when I look at how my ancestors struggled, I feel that I have it pretty easy.
In my house, the thing that most represents my faith is ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Framed pictures of Jesus Christ, the Temple and the Proclamation on the Family issued by the 12 apostles hanging on the wall. Copies on end tables of the Bible, the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The song/book/film that most represents my faith is ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator The Book of Mormon is where my church gets its nickname: Mormons. Mormon was a prophet that abridged the work of a series of new-world prophets in this book which provides another witness - along with the Bible - that Jesus is the Christ.

Religion & the Public Square

What should be the role of religion in politics? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator The more people can be governed by true principles, the less they will need to be governed by legislation. People learn and grow the most when governments provide them with freedom to seek and learn for themselves, and when religions provide the populace with choices that can be tested and learned from.
Should courses about religion be taught in public schools? Why or why not? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Government sponsored schools should not endorse any particular religion, but also should not eliminate discussion of the role of religious beliefs in history and current events, and in the living of an ethical life.
Should the Bible, Torah, Quran or other religious texts be taught as works of literature in public schools? Why or why not? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator It is difficult to study religious texts without endorsing a particular religion, or giving the impression that they are akin to man-made literature, which is offensive to those who believe them to be from God.
Is interfaith dialogue important? Why or why not? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Interfaith dialogue is good if it leads to better understanding of other people, and if contention about differences can be avoided.
Do you feel comfortable discussing your faith with others? Why/why not? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator I feel very comfortable discussing religious principles with others, and wish it were a more common practice.
Do you feel that you have a duty, because of your faith, to put your beliefs into action? What are some of those actions? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator I feel that it is of utmost importance to learn the truths that relate to our purpose on earth, and to practice living the principles that we discover as soon as we learn them. Every day, we have opportunities to serve others, to make the world a better place, and to show greater love to those around us.
Are religious beliefs compromised by engaging in politics? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Engaging in politics can help us appreciate the role that religion can play in people's lives. Religions teach both true and false principles, and it is the purpose of governments to help the diverse people of this world to live in peace with each other while we all learn correct principles and work toward a better world.
Has 9/11 had any impact on your thoughts about religion? Are you more/less interested in learning about other religions? Do you feel more/less comfortable expressing your religious beliefs? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator I was severely dismayed by how people can justify atrocity in the name of religion. 9/11 has reaffirmed to me that religions should judge and excommunicate or remove fellowship from those who disobey the principles they espouse, but also that they should go no further in their punishment of those in their ranks who sin.

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Major funding for God in America provided by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the John E. Fetzer Institute, Inc.  Additional funding provided by the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations. God in America is produced for PBS by WGBH Boston.
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Published October 11, 2010

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