Religion and Spirituality – What’s the Difference?


For many, religion is about belief in a higher power. Religion is also about finding purpose and meaning in life. It’s a concept that can be found across many faiths.

While religion and spirituality can be found in a variety of traditions, each one has its own value and worth. Some may even find a sense of depth in their own faith.

One definition of religion is a social or cultural system of beliefs, practices and organizations. These can include texts, worldviews, organizations, morals and designated behavior.

A related term, “spirituality”, can be more general, encompassing concepts like belief, purpose, self-improvement and the like. This is often more thought-based, focusing on internalizing different teachings about the Divine.

Although it’s no secret that people’s attitudes toward religion vary, some nations tend to have more positive views than others. Italy, Portugal and Ireland have solid majorities of adults who claim that religion has a positive influence on their lives.

On the other hand, Sweden, Denmark and Norway have more adults who deem religion a source of harm than good. Still, most respondents in this group agree that religion gives them a sense of purpose.

Another survey conducted by the Pew Research Center asked the question: do you consider yourself to be spiritual or religious? The results showed that while there are some classic definitions of religion that are hard to distinguish from more modern conceptions of spirituality, the “spiritual” category is not without its shortcomings.