By Hayden Prescott Corwin ’15
Spirituality and religion are two terms that are often used when talking about what faith a person believes and how they practice it.
According to the Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, spirituality is defined as belonging to the church or to a cleric as such under ecclesiastical law.
Some students argue that religion and spirituality are separate subjects.
“I think that everyone can have their own sort of belief about what they have spiritually,” said Lane McShane Jr. ’16. “To be religious and to be spiritual are kind of two separate things. To be religious you kind of follow a larger group; to be spiritual you have your own idea… Religion kind of puts more of an organization on things.”
Jack Tiffany ’15 said people can choose to believe that there is a spiritual force in the world, but they do not have to belong to a religious sect in order to do so.
Other students agree.
“I think that religion and spirituality are two different things,” said Michael Darby ’16. “I think that religion is more public. If someone asked you, you’d tell them your religion. But your spirituality is kind of private, and it’s what you think.”
According to these students, spirituality is a personal experience that is something realized through one’s self rather than through a religious group.
Alec Skebo ’15 differentiated between spirituality and religion.
“Someone can still be spiritual but not religious,” Skebo said. “For me, if someone’s religious, they identify with a certain religion. Someone can still be spiritual, but not identify with a certain religion, and they still believe in a higher power.”
An article in Desert News reported a study done at Boston University found that those who say that they are spiritual but not religious are hard to come upon.
“You have to ask people what are they trying to tell us when they talk about themselves that way,” said Nancy Ammerman in the Desert News article, author of a study which was published in the Journal for Scientific Study of Religion.
Ms. Megan McDonald, who teaches religion classes, made the point of religion being the structure that guides spirituality.
“I think that it’s difficult to sustain spirituality without a discipline,” Ms. McDonald said. “Religion provides a framework to foster spirituality. It provides community. It provides rhythm and habit. It provides insight that’s bigger than you. Spirituality exists because religion has been sustained throughout human history.”