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Understanding Religion vs. Spirituality (Nov. 18, 2019)--Religion and spirituality often go hand in hand, but a lot of people are often unsure regarding the individual meaning of both of these concepts. A person who is not religious may, therefore, feel as though they can’t be spiritual, either, but that’s simply not the case. You may get an overly spiritual person who does not follow a particular religion, and likewise there be a religious person who does not have a particularly spiritual connection with the world.

Both religion and spirituality provide a way to channel meaning into one’s life, as well as providing a purpose of direction and a set of rules to live life by. Where there are a lot of similarities between the two, their distinct definitions can be very different.

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What is Religion? 

Religion is the choice to follow a set system of rules, whereby attitudes, beliefs, and practices are all performed in the service of a particular God with the belief that worship of this God is important in living out life and attaining what is expected from the afterlife. 

Religions are often official organizations and groups of people, such as the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, who follow a certain lifestyle choice in honor of their chosen God. A lot of people, such as priests, give up their lives to devote to the service of their religion. 

Religions often differ from culture to culture, with a wide variety of teachings and followers.

Key factors of religion include: 

  • An accepted text or scripture which is followed by everyone of the same religion 
  • Official places of worship, such as churches 
  • Observing practices at certain times, such as celebrating Christmas in Christ’s name
  • Strict in form and structure. People following a certain religion will be bound by the rules of it.

What is Spirituality?

Spirituality is less set in stone and is much more fluid in its experience. It denotes a personal connection to a force larger than yourself. This doesn’t have to be a religion or a God, but it can be a connection to a more important energy or message in the universe. 

Spirituality is more about seeking purpose and working to express meaning in everyday actions as well as life as a whole. Spirituality can be about worshipping a larger power or force, but this might not be a God or religion; it may just be the energy of the universe, or a power a person chooses not to comprehend. 

Spirituality focuses on the connections made in life, to oneself, to others and to aspects of the world. These connections don’t have to be done in the name or worship or something sacred but can be everyday connections such as mindful practices. 

Key factors of spirituality include:

  • Less outward or obvious worship – it is more about self-discovery and inner peace.
  • No official places of worship 
  • No official set holidays or celebrations to abide by 
  • No strictness or set structure – spirituality is more about discovery and connections without rules or bounds.

Therefore, religion and spirituality are both important practices in life’s journey, but one does not equal the other.