Religion is a form of belief and practice that involves exploring a relationship with an intangible power or essence. It is a way to make sense of life’s experiences and find an overall meaning. Many religions practice rituals and follow certain doctrines. These practices and beliefs are often shared by many people. These forms of religion often focus on a particular person’s soul.
However, there is an important difference between spirituality and religion. While spirituality and religion are often closely related, religion and spirituality can be quite separate. The two tend to focus on different parts of the same experience. While religion may focus on external things like a supreme being or eternal principle, spirituality begins within an individual and moves outward, through self-transcendence and relationships with others and the world beyond. The key difference between spirituality and religion is that spirituality can be both static and dynamic.
While spirituality requires people to follow certain moral codes and practices, religion often requires them to live by a predetermined belief system. Often, changes to this belief system are communicated through recognized authorities in a religion. As a result, religion often discourages individuals from listening to their innermost intuition and instincts.
Overall, attitudes toward religion are mixed in Western Europe. Surveys of Europeans have shown that people disagree on whether religion has a positive or negative influence on their lives. While public opinion in Scandinavia is generally negative, respondents in Italy, Portugal, and Austria have more positive attitudes.