Religions are the beliefs, practices, and worldviews of particular groups of people. They include everything from ethics and morals to sanctified places and designated behaviors. Often these beliefs and practices have a long history. In addition, religious traditions are strongly embedded in the cultural environment. In fact, a significant percentage of the population is involved in some form of organized religion.
Unlike religions, spirituality is an individual belief system. The word “spiritual” can mean many things, but generally it refers to an individual’s relationship with their soul. This type of thinking focuses on eradicating bad feelings and eliminating sources of unhappiness. In this view, the spiritual person is a part of a larger consciousness that is seeking to create a peaceful world.
Religious institutions guard their practices. Traditional religious beliefs are often based on rigid interpretations of key teachings. This can lead to exclusive views and the exclusion of certain minorities.
These beliefs can justify the physical harm of people who practice them. For example, the concept of original sin and divine retribution creates a mental environment of worry.
Religious groups constitute a small but growing percentage of the American population, with many located on the West Coast. They are composed of mostly Gen-Xers and Boomers. However, they hold a variety of views that are different from those of secular groups.
Many religious groups believe that they have a duty to protect their members from wrongful behavior. This is true for both the spiritual and the non-spiritual.