Religion is a system of beliefs and practices that people use to guide their daily lives. Many of the major religions share similar beliefs and practices. However, some differ from one another. Religion can have practical implications in everyday life, such as determining proper dress or behavior. In some cases, it can even affect health care and justice.
The United States has a high percentage of religious people, accounting for around eight percent of the total population. Among adults, more women than men identify themselves as religious. However, these groups are disproportionately concentrated in the South and West. Most are Boomers or Gen-Xers. Even so, attitudes towards religion are generally positive.
Some religions have made room for personal searches for God or a higher power. Similarly, organized religions have relied on insights from mystics, but sought to constrain their influence. But it is important to recognize the differences between these types of beliefs. The main differences between religion and spirituality are reflected in the ways in which people practice each of them.
Overall, Western Europeans have mixed attitudes toward religion. Although most respondents in the United States, Italy, and Ireland have positive attitudes toward religion, public opinion in Scandinavia is negative. In contrast, people in Portugal, Austria, and Belgium hold more positive views of religion. In addition, individuals who identify as Christian are more likely to identify with religion and express positive attitudes.