People who engage in spiritual practices often feel a sense of purpose and value. A true spirituality is an experience rooted in love and acceptance. Spirituality can also offer support in times of loss. For example, Alcoholics Anonymous is considered a spiritual organization.
Many people choose to define their religious and spiritual practices differently. For instance, they may engage in a variety of spiritual activities, but not attend religious services. Others may pray on a regular basis but have not read the Bible or participated in a worship service. Still others have an ambivalent attitude towards religion. They may believe that religion plays a positive role in their lives, but not agree with the teachings of their particular religion. Regardless, these varying attitudes are important to understand.
The survey also asked subjects to rate statements about their spirituality and religion. Most respondents expressed positive views about religion. However, in Portugal, Denmark, and Sweden, nearly 17% of adults voiced negative opinions about religion. These numbers are more pronounced among those under 35. Similarly, people who graduated from college are more likely to have negative views about religion.
While some people prefer to separate spirituality from religion, there are several common definitions of both. Religion is a social-cultural system that facilitates spirituality. It is a set of beliefs and practices that a person follows, including morals, worldviews, and institutions. Religious participation involves attending religious services, engaging in religious rituals, and making decisions based on what a person believes.
Those who consider themselves neither spiritual nor religious disagree about whether religion is helpful to choosing right from wrong. Interestingly, they are more likely to say that they do not believe in a soul. Those who do not believe in a soul tend to be less likely to say that they believe in a higher power.
The survey also found that Europeans have mixed views about religion. On balance, most people in Western Europe see the role of religion positively. Yet, many Europeans do not believe in a soul.
Some of the factors that might explain this ambivalence include the level of observance of a person’s religion. Those who are uncertain about their own religious beliefs are more likely to not attend religious services and may not know the answers to important questions. Moreover, religion and spirituality are a part of a larger context of established traditions. This larger context includes practices and doctrines, which are endowed with sacred status.
One reason for the negative reputation of religion is the large number of acts of terrorism. Unlike religious institutions, terrorism is usually viewed as an incorrect reading of sacred texts. Often, religion is criticized for its role in extremism, abuse, and hypocrisy. Another factor contributing to the bad reputation of religion is the fact that many professional and lay preachers live sordid lives behind closed doors.
While people in these countries have mixed views about religion, those who are practicing Christians tend to express more favorable opinions about it. Nevertheless, these religious groups are more ambivalent than those who are secular.