The Difference Between Religion and Spirituality


Religion is a social system with rules and rituals based on core beliefs. For example, Muslims follow the Koran, while Christians read the Bible. In each religion, there is a supreme moral authority, usually a divine being. Taking part in a religion involves collective prayer, meditation, and moral behavior. A person is expected to adhere to the beliefs and practices of that religion, and they often follow dress codes, moral codes, and other guidelines mandated by the spiritual leaders.

While there are some differences between religion and spirituality, the two can often be distinguished by their contexts. Religion is embedded in an established institutional context, which includes long-established organizations. However, spirituality can be expressed outside of a traditional religious context. For example, some people view nature, art, and war as sacred.

People who are spiritual but not religious often value their independence and do not believe in a “higher” authority. They may also be polytheistic, or believe in many different gods and spirits. Practicing Christians are more likely to be polytheistic than non-practicing Christians. In addition, a large portion of the general public considers themselves spiritual but not religious.

The distinction between spirituality and religion is complex, and literature has tried to define both. Essentially, both terms relate to connecting with God, nature, and others, and are largely subjective and individualistic. They are linked to quality of life.