In its broadest sense, religion is an organized body of beliefs. These beliefs are often pre-defined by religious groups and their recognized authorities. Often, religions involve the practice of unconditional faith in God or the scriptures, as well as surrendering oneself to the divine. A person may be spiritual or religious without consciously deciding to practice a religious system.
Both religion and spirituality are directed toward significant goals. While spirituality focuses on an individual’s experience of the divine, religion focuses on a group of people. The goal of both is to cultivate character and to shape beliefs, attitudes, and actions. Moreover, while religion unites the members of a group, spirituality focuses on the soul.
Religions are complex, and critics tend to focus on extremism, abuse, and hypocrisy. Many large-scale acts of terrorism (such as terrorist attacks and racist rallies) give religion a bad reputation. However, a significant percentage of people worship according to their religious beliefs. Small-scale secret terrorism (such as spousal abuse, threats, and falsehoods) also contributes to the bad name of religion. In addition to this, many professional and lay preachers lead sordid lives behind closed doors.
As long as the purpose of a religion is clear, religion can help people find social support, moral guidance, and a sense of purpose. It can also be a source of social support and connection to tradition. However, a person must weigh the benefits and harms of a religion before making a decision.