Across Western Europe, attitudes about religion and spirituality are mixed, according to a recent survey. Although respondents in Ireland, Italy, and Portugal generally embrace spiritual beliefs, attitudes about religion are less positive in Denmark and Sweden. However, if respondents identify as Christian, their opinions of religion tend to be more positive. Despite these differences, Europeans generally have positive views about religion.
In European countries, the median percentage of individuals who consider themselves neither religious nor spiritual is around 53%. However, the number of people who believe in a soul is much lower, and they are more likely to say they do not believe in a superior power. In addition, they reject the idea that religion helps them determine what is right and wrong. Those who consider themselves neither religious nor spiritual also disagree on whether religion helps people choose between right and wrong.
Though spirituality and religion share many similarities, they differ in terms of how they are organized and performed. For instance, spirituality tends to be more personal, whereas religion is more public, with organized doctrines and rituals. In addition to focusing on the individual soul, religion aims to create a sense of overall meaning in one’s life.
In some African contexts, spirituality is seen as a belief system, with the goal of eliminating the causes of unhappiness. In traditional societies, however, spirituality was often considered a subset of religion. Still, traditional religion remains a critical background in many African societies, providing a communal foundation for action.