Service and Justice

A Simple Common Morality Across All Religions

Service and Justice

Service is the main avenue by which religions practice what they preach. Activities like charity and activism for the disenfranchised show that individuals are meant to take seriously the messages of love and interconnectedness that religions teach. We are to look at those in need and apply the golden rule: “If I was in such a position, how would I want people to treat me?” Because life has its ups and downs, we never know when we might be in such a position where we need help and these acts of service unite us all in a common quest for universal human flourishing. Many prophets were great exemplars of social justice, civil rights, and community service, setting ideals for the rest of us to emulate.

Additional Quotes

Huston Smith
Scholar of religion
Christianity

“Jesus saw social barriers as an affront to Yahweh’s compassion, and he disregarded them. This made him a social prophet, challenging the boundaries of the existing order and advocating an alternative vision of the human continuity."

The New Testament
Christian scripture
Christianity

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

The New Testament
Christian scripture
Christianity

“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”

The New Testament
Christian scripture
Christianity

"Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you."

Mariann Edgar Budde
bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington D.C.
Christianity

“Scripture is clear: Justice, which is the societal expression of love, matters most to God.”

Huston Smith
Scholar of religion
Islam

“The third pillar of Islam is charity. Those who are comfortable should share with the unfortunate. Again the Koran is explicit; annually, two and one-half percent of one’s holdings should be distributed to the poor."

The Qur'an
Islamic scripture
Islam

"Give relatives their due, and the needy, and travelers– do not squander your wealth wastefully: those who squander are the brothers of Satan, and Satan is most ungrateful to his Lord– but if, while seeking some bounty that you expect from your Lord, you turn them down, then at least speak some word of comfort to them. Do not be tight-fisted, nor so open-handed that you end up blamed and overwhelmed with regret. Your Lord gives abundantly to whoever He will, and sparingly to whoever He will: He knows and observes His servants thoroughly."

‘Abdu’l-Bahá
Baha'i leader
Baha'i

“Be ye loving fathers to the orphan, and a refuge to the helpless, and a treasury for the poor, and a cure for the ailing. Be ye the helpers of every victim of oppression, the patrons of the disadvantaged. Think ye at all times of rendering some service to every member of the human race."

Bahá’í International Community
Baha'i NGO
Baha'i

"Peace-building over the long term requires the transformation of society, a transformation based on justice, involving education for all, the alleviation of poverty and the abandonment of deeply rooted prejudices."

The Bhagavad Gita
Hindu scripture
Hinduism

“Every selfless act, Arjuna, is born from Brahman, the eternal, infinite Godhead. Brahman is present in every act of service."

The Bhagavad Gita
Hindu scripture
Hinduism

“The immature think that knowledge and action are different, but the wise see them as the same. The person who is established in one path will attain the rewards of both. The goal of knowledge and the goal of service are the same; those who fail to see this are blind."

Huston Smith
Scholar of religion
Buddhism

“The Buddha’s entire life was powered by a strong sense of mission. Immediately after his enlightenment, he saw in his mind’s eye the whole of humanity—people milling and lost, desperately in need of help and guidance. His acceptance of his mission without regard for personal cost won India’s heart as well as her mind."

Ho-Shang Kung
Daoist scholar
Daoism

“Excessive wealth and desire wearies and harms the spirit. The rich should help the poor, and the powerful should aid the oppressed."

D.C. Lau
Translator
Confucianism

“Since in being moral one can neither be assured of a reward nor guaranteed success, morality must be pursued for its own sake. This is, perhaps, the most fundamental message in Confucius’ teachings, a message that marked his teachings from other schools of thought in ancient China."

Cornel West
philosopher and activist
Science, Psychology, & Philosophy

“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.”

Martin Luther King Jr.
American theologian and civil rights leader
Science, Psychology, & Philosophy

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

Andrew Harvey
Scholar of religion
Science, Psychology, & Philosophy

“The beauty of Sacred Activism is that it brings together what is best in both the mystic and the activist: the mystic’s fiery passion for God, and the activist’s fiery passion for justice. What is born from the fusion of those two great ennobling fires is a third fire that is love and wisdom in action."