Religion is a social-cultural system of belief and practices, usually based on religious texts, rituals, and the lives of historical figures. Religions teach people to accept God as their ultimate moral authority. It also serves as a source of meaning and motivation for many people. However, despite its important social role, religion can be problematic.
In some countries, a large minority of people have negative views about religion. These negative attitudes are often associated with extremism, hypocrisy, abuse, and violence. Others may reject religion altogether. Still, religion can still serve as an incentive to live a healthy lifestyle.
A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center asked respondents to rate statements about spirituality and religion. Nearly half of adults in three countries – Ireland, Spain, and Portugal – consider themselves spiritual. But fewer than half say they are religious. The survey also found that people in Denmark and Norway tended to have negative attitudes about religion.
Compared to Americans, Europeans have mixed attitudes about religion. While a significant minority of Europeans believe that they have a soul, they generally do not believe that there is a divine power in the universe. People who do not belong to any church or other religion are more likely to have positive attitudes about religion.
Religious institutions often hold rigid interpretations of the founder’s teachings. This can make them self-serving or potent ideologies of oppression. At times, religion can become a source of fear and anxiety.