Spiritual vs. Religious

I read a blog on CNN about spirituality versus religion, and that inspired me to write this post. A lot of people say that they’re “spiritual, but not religious.” I think that as humans, we all have a spirit, or a soul — something that we would like to believe keeps on living after we die. Some people are deeply in touch with their spiritual side and others don’t pay much attention to it. Being “spiritual” and being “religious” are two different ways of getting in touch with your spiritual side — and I’m not saying that one is right and the other is wrong. It’s a matter of opinion that depends on your perspective.

Interestingly enough, you can be religious without being spiritual. There are plenty of people out there who don’t really pay attention to their spiritual side, but who attend religious services and follow the precepts of a religion just to present a certain image to others. They don’t truly have their spirit in it. Or you can religiously do a certain thing all the time, but that’s not religion in the sense I’m talking about here.

A lot of the time, you’ll hear people say that being “spiritual, but not religious” is some kind of cop-out. That’s what the author of the CNN blog thinks. A person may not want to adhere to the rules or requirements of a particular religion, so they just say they are a “spiritual” person and leave it at that. Or perhaps they don’t see the point of all the rules and requirements of organized religion. Or maybe they don’t need a religion to feel fulfilled in life.

For me, religion is a comfort. It gives me guidelines to go by, and a certain moral standard and code of honor to uphold. There’s so much tradition and history that go along with my religion. Others may not feel this way. I’ve heard people tell me countless times, “You’re narrow-minded.” “You can’t prove God’s existence.” “Religion has too many rules.” “Religion is corrupt.”

Spirituality without religion is also a lovely thing. You’re not following a set path that is a religion; you’re following what is in your own soul. You’re creating your own idea of the universe and your own vision of a higher power.

Most of the time these days, I hear “religion” spoken about in a negative manner, and “spirituality” spoken about in a more positive manner. The two are not mutually exclusive. You can have both, and you can have one without the other.

25 thoughts on “Spiritual vs. Religious

  1. I’m spiritual and not religious and I don’t link my spirituality to the concept of a soul per se. It’s hard to explain, but particularly as I get older, I find myself more focused on these things that produce peace and comfort, value and meaning … I believe that it’s those things that are making me more spiritual, in a way that has nothing to do with religion, a god, or what most people believe spiritual is. Thanks for posting this … definitely food for thought.

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  2. I used to say “I’m spiritual, but not religious” but it started to sound like defensiveness, so now I keep it to myself. You’re absolutely right that one can be had without the other or that they can be part and parcel of one another.

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    1. These days, I think it’s definitely wise to keep your religious/spiritual convictions to yourself. Kind of like how you shouldn’t talk about politics in public. Thanks for commenting. 🙂

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  3. I’ve never thought about whether I’m spiritual or not. I am religious and I think I would be spiritual too. My religion could possibly influence my spiritual side, if you see what I mean, however I can’t see myself as being anything else – therefore my religion doesn’t dominate my spiritual side as it is all my own choice. (I’m hoping you understand that :P)
    I definitely agree with you where you say religion is a comfort. And I also hear people telling me that ‘it is all a load of rubbish’ or ‘science has better explanations’ and I think that people who say those things should understand that everybody has a different view. And regardless of whether I’m religious or not, I will always respect people’s choices of belief and if they are more in touch with their spiritual or religious side, or both.
    Great, thought provoking post :).

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  4. Interesting topic. Personally, I recently switched from one of the most organized religions in the world to a more free form and personal spirituality. I’ve been on both sides of this.

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  5. An excellent post, Maggie, and I agree with you–being spiritual and being religious are different things, but not necessarily mutually exclusive. Personally I am distrustful of organized religion because of my own experiences, but at the same time I know many good people who identify strongly with an organized religion. I think what it really comes down to is finding the labels and concepts each person needs to feel connected to whatever higher powers they believe in and to live a life they are proud of.

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  6. Religions are very effective at turning human beings into sheep. They’re among the most powerful instruments of social conditioning. They operate by eroding your trust in your own intellect, gradually convincing you to put your trust into some external entity, such as a deity, prominent figure, or great book. Of course these instruments are usually controlled by those who administrate the minion training program, but they don’t have to be. Simply by convincing you to give your power away to something outside yourself, religion will condition you to be weaker, more docile, and easier to control. Religions actively promote this weakening process as if it were beneficial, commonly branding it with the word faith. What they’re actually promoting is submission.

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