A religion is an organized system of beliefs, traditions, morals, and institutions that are shared by a community. It can include sanctified places, texts, rituals, worldviews, and designated behaviors. The purpose of a religion is to enhance spirituality and bring people together.
Historically, religion and spirituality have served as fundamental routes for individuals to discover the meaning of their lives. However, both can be used in different ways.
A spiritual but not religious person is one who does not attend a church or a religious institution, but rather, lives out their spirituality in other ways. For example, a spiritual but not religious person may choose not to acknowledge the death of Jesus, but still view him as loving and accepting.
Traditionally, people who consider themselves religious tend to be those who attend a church. However, a survey of U.S. adults suggests that there are many people who claim to be spiritual but who do not believe in religion. This group is also often polytheistic.
One of the major differences between the two groups is their ambivalence toward religion. Religious institutions are conservative, guarding their practices and beliefs. In contrast, functional outsiders see religion as loosely defined. Instead, they believe that there is a universal truth to all religions.
Historically, religions have been based on the lives of historical figures, and details of these figures have been passed on through written scriptures. Moreover, traditional religious beliefs can justify excluding those deemed unworthy of God’s favor.