The Difference Between Religion and Spirituality

There are many different religions in the world. Religion is an organized system of beliefs, traditions, and rituals. The main purpose of religion is to unite people. Those who share a religion typically follow a set of edicts and practices pertaining to morals, ethics, and justice. They often follow a recognizable dress code and participate in rituals that are associated with their religion.

While many people have positive views of religion, others have negative views. A survey on attitudes toward religion is conducted across Western Europe. Results show that while there are mixed views about the role religion plays in society, the vast majority of adults in four countries (Ireland, Italy, Portugal, and Austria) and nearly half of those in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark have a positive view of religion.

Those who consider themselves to be religious or spiritual overwhelmingly agree that religion has a major effect on their lives. Some say religion provides them with a sense of meaning and purpose. Others believe religion helps them discern right from wrong. Still others feel religion causes harm. But what’s the difference between being religious and being spiritual?

Religious participation includes activities like individual meditation, collective prayer, and participation in religious institutions. It can also include service. Most religions promise a reward for following certain practices and rituals. However, the reward isn’t always monetary. Often, it’s an opportunity to experience and discover something new.

On the other hand, those who consider themselves to be neither religious nor spiritual are less likely to say that they have a soul, and more likely to believe there are no spiritual forces in the universe. These Europeans also tend to disagree with the claim that religion does more harm than good.

Another distinction between religion and spirituality is that religion is a group effort, whereas spirituality is a solitary experience. Those who participate in a religious community are bound to share their experiences and learn about the core tenets of the faith through their leaders.

Many of the same respondents also believe that religion gives them purpose and moral guidance. They feel that their beliefs are accurate and that religion has helped them live a more fulfilled life. Those who are religious are more likely to say that religion has a positive effect on their lives.

Similarly, those who are spiritual are more likely to say that their spiritual practice has a positive effect on their lives. Among those who are both, about one-third of them say that their spiritual practice has a positive impact on their mental health.

For those who are religious, the best way to determine whether or not their practice has a positive impact on their lives is to find out what they believe about their religion. Specifically, they should consider the rules of their religion and who they follow. If they do not share their religion’s values and practices, then they may be better off trying another.

In addition to providing a positive or negative effect on individuals, religion has an effect on the social and political spheres. In fact, some religions inform economics, political art, and even diet.