The Difference Between Religion and Spirituality


The criticism of religion has often been focused on abuse, extremism and hypocrisy. Such events can give the religion a bad name. Large-scale terrorism, including bombings and racist rallies, are a major cause for the negative public perception of religion. On the other hand, religious busy-ness can disguise a broader unfaithfulness. Many professional and lay preachers live sordid lives behind closed doors.

The term “religion” is a misnomer because it is not limited to the church. Spirituality is defined by an individual’s behavior, beliefs and values. Spirituality can also be defined as a connection to nature or others. In either case, personal spiritual expression takes place within a wider religious environment.

In organized religions, the concepts of God and other higher powers are regarded as sacred. They are also endowed with certain qualities of the divine, such as immanence, boundlessness, and ultimacy. In addition to concepts and beliefs, practices and behaviors are deemed sacred, such as rituals and dress.

Although the two are similar, they are very different. Religion serves a function, while spirituality is concerned with the search for a sacred destination. While spirituality is concerned with pursuing a sacred destination, religion seeks to serve a broader social environment.