Patheos answers the question:

What is the Difference Between Religion and Spirituality?

man on rock

“Religion” usually refers to a specific set of beliefs or practices that are adopted by a group, and practiced in a communal context or with some reference point outside of the individual practitioner. Some religions organize solely around faith claims, and others incorporate ethnic or national identities into their sense of distinctiveness. Some of the largest religions in the world include Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism, though there are countless different religions and organized ways of worship all across the globe. 


“Spirituality” can be pretty different from “religion.” One can be “spiritual,” but not “religious.” And some who profess to be “religious” are not very “spiritual.” While religion is a series of beliefs or acts that are adopted by a group, spiritually is something different; something very personal and individual. Spirituality is different from religion in that it usually refers to the orientation and belief system through which an individual person views the world. This means that spirituality can also refer to the ways in which a person might approach big questions about existence, such as death, the afterlife, or systems of ethics and inherent moral values. Many people think about their spiritual worldview when they consider the meaning of life, for example. 


People who are spiritual individuals might also belong to an organized religion. Some people, however, hold a variety of beliefs or impulses about sacred meaning without belonging to a particular religion. Sometimes, these people might describe themselves as spiritual but not religious. Their spiritual beliefs might find meaning through the spiritual discourses of many different faiths or consist of a variety of beliefs from different time periods and cultures. When it comes to spirituality that is not expressed through an organized religion, there is often no hierarchy or leader who is authorized to determine if certain beliefs or practices are right or wrong—“orthodox” or “heretical.” Spirituality is usually about finding meaning and making sense of this world; about connecting with God. Spirituality is often more personal than formal religiosity, which usually has a corporate or communal component to it. 


There are also many people who might belong to a religious community and identify as religious but not see themselves as particularly spiritual. Some people find spirituality difficult to understand, or confusing. What this means is that religion and spirituality might sometimes inform each other for an individual person, but they are not the same thing. 


Learn more about religious traditions here.

3/23/2021 6:32:39 PM