The difference between religion and spirituality is often not as cut and dried as one might think. In fact, many people have found a number of useful functions in each. For instance, religion has been used by 90% of hospitalized patients to cope with illness. At the same time, spirituality is an abstract quality that is not confined to a particular social institution. Hence, the separation of religion from spirituality has positive connotations.
The definition of religion is often based on its traditional values, including traditional morals and ethics, the rules and regulations governing its members, and the institutions and organizations that it represents. On the other hand, spirituality is a more subjective quality that is more individualized. The main difference between religion and spirituality is that the former is a product of society and culture, whereas the latter is an individual pursuit. This makes the distinction less obvious, but it does not make it unimportant.
In a survey of Europeans, only about half of them consider themselves to be either religious or spiritual. The majority, however, believe that religion does more harm than good. On the other hand, those who consider themselves to be neither, do not believe in a higher power. Nevertheless, many of them do have a more personal connection to the divine.
This might be because religion and spirituality are not mutually exclusive. For instance, if religion was defined as the pursuit of a broader set of destinations, spirituality would not be necessary. Similarly, if religion were confined to a specific set of beliefs, it would not be necessary to incorporate the other important elements of spirituality.
The best way to differentiate religion from spirituality is to look at their function. For instance, the main purpose of religion is to bring people together and to give them a common sense of belonging. It is also to help them to find their purpose in life, which in turn helps them to become more productive and happier. In contrast, the function of spirituality is more personal and personalistic, focusing on the search for a sacred place and a higher power.
The best thing about religion and spirituality is that they are not necessarily opposed. On the contrary, they are complementary. For instance, a person who is seeking spiritual fulfillment will not be satisfied with a religion that focuses on rituals and rigid rules. Likewise, a person who is looking for a spiritual connection may not be able to connect with a church. It might be better to rely on a spiritual therapist.
Nevertheless, the separation of religion from spirituality has a distinctly self-serving nature. For example, a religious institution that emphasizes spirituality would likely violate people’s rights to privacy. This would mean that the same group of people might not be able to enjoy a number of important benefits such as support during times of loss or difficulty, a sense of self-worth, and hope.
The separation of religion from spirituality has the ambiguous side effect of obscuring the fact that religion is just one of the several ways people relate to the divine. In addition, the separation of the two may lead to the creation of a new class of spirituality.