Religion is a social construct that consists of an agreed-upon set of beliefs about an external entity. It is an important tool in spiritual development and can provide a context, language, and community for the spiritual journey. It is not, however, the exclusive domain of religion. For example, some people find religious practices disturbing, or even downright repugnant.
The reasons for religious beliefs are complex, and researchers have come up with a variety of possible explanations. According to a Gallup poll, 47% of U.S. adults identify themselves as being religious, while 28% identify as “spiritual but not religious.” Research shows that cultural influences and parenting style can contribute to religious affiliation, and people tend to belong to the religion that they were raised in.
Religion involves worldviews, texts, prophecies, and revelations. It also involves rituals, prayer, and meditation, and holy places. In many cases, it involves worshiping a god or controlling force, although not all religions believe in gods. It is also a way of exploring the deeper meaning of life and exploring one’s connection to it.
The legal status of non-religious people varies widely. Many spiritual but not religious individuals seek autonomy from the religious establishment. They may have religious suspicions but reject the idea of religious authority. They may also practice informal spiritual practices.