Family · Just my Thoughts · Religion

Faith and Religion

People tend to use these two words – faith and religion – interchangeably.  Not me!  I have a great faith.  It is strong and has helped me make it through many trials in my life.  It is a faith in a higher being but it is also a faith in my fellow men and women.  It is a belief – a word I am more likely to use interchangeably with faith – in the goodness that is in the world while still seeing that that is not good.


Religion is defined as a specific set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects.  The world boasts a large number of religions.  The problem is that each religion seems to think IT is the only way.  Religion has become a divisive part of our world.  That is not what God is.  God is a force who brings people together, not tears people apart.


Faith is defined as a belief that is not based on proof.  That means there is a huge chasm between faith and religion.  To have faith is to believe in something that is unseen, unproven through normal methods.  I have a huge faith.  My faith has pulled me through all kinds of life changes that I never anticipated.

Whether I am talking about my faith in God or my faith in my fellow humankind, this belief in the good in the world helps me see the bumps in my road, my life as challenges, not problems.  Knowing that I am not alone, that I have God with me regardless of what I am doing helps me to carry on when things look bleak.

Do you have faith?  In a higher being?  In each other?  Do you follow an organized religion?  Are the two interchangeable in your book?

23 thoughts on “Faith and Religion

  1. I most definitely do have faith but I do not consider myself to be religious. My faith is what carries me through each and every day. My faith is what gives me the courage to face life with all its challenges. My faith is a huge part of my identity.

    A great post. I love your honesty. Thank you!

    1. Tracy – I think my faith is a huge part of me, also. Sometimes, though, this scares others who associate faith with zealotry or with religion.

  2. Love this post, so relevant to things happening in my life right now. I wrote about this issue not too long ago because we’re struggling about how to raise our kids. Both were baptized Catholic and we’ve just enrolled our oldest son in a Catholic school. It’s a complex issue, but I agree with you faith is more encompassing, a feeling, a knowing, whereas religion can be something different. We decided to send our son to Catholic school not because of the religion he would be exposed, but because of the values that we want to be reinforced at school, things like faith that we’ll teach him at home.

    1. I, too, am Catholic, Christine, having converted 27 years ago. I was brought up Episcopalian and organized religion was a big part of my childhood.

      When I was married, I volunteered in my children’s Catholic preschools and grade schools. I was co-chair of the local Catholic School system’s biggest annual fundraiser. I was certified to teach CCD and did so, usually carting a baby with me to teach slightly older children.

      I did not see the Catholic schools teaching a particular religion in school. It was more a work ethic and values.

      I have managed to keep six kids interested enough in their own faith and how to further it that all six have been confirmed. At that point I stopped pushing. In the eyes of the church, they are now adults. Time to make some decisions on your own.

      My youngest, who is 15 and was just confirmed in March, sings in the church choir. He attends a youth group at another church. My oldest son says the other church is like a cult. It is not. I have friends who attend the other church and know the family of the youth group leader who is a college student. I am happy the youngest has found a place where he can share his faith and, if he has them, his doubts, with others his own age.

  3. I have faith, and that faith is in the relationship I have with God, through Jesus. I don’t consider myself religious at all, and I don’t follow rules all that well. Externally determined ones anyway. I don’t have to follow rules – my relationship with God does an internal work that leads my thoughts and actions in certain directions.

    1. Thanks for stopping by and joining the conversation, Donalyn. Sometimes I question the rules and regulations that others want to put on my relationship with God.

  4. I am religious, and I have faith. I don’t think you can have one without the other.

    Did you see there is a 60% chance of rain on Sunday??? Bummer.

    1. Hey Molly! I think that some people think that religion, as in organized religion, and faith are interchangeable. I just don’t believe that.

      I would actually be happy with a little rain to keep it cool on Sunday. But I think the forecast is for storms and I don’t want that. I have to get up there tomorrow to register. I hate doing day of the race registration.

  5. Great post! I have thought about this often too – I believe that I have Faith as you describe here. Many times, I consider myself a “bad” Catholic because I don’t go to Mass very often and I’m not very involved in the Church. There are many things that I struggle with in the Church. I don’t think that makes me Faithless though. In fact, I have more Faith now than I ever did when I was a “better” Catholic. That is because I am learning more about Faith in a Higher Power and in the goodness of our fellow man. That is what Faith is. Organized Religion can often disappoint because of it’s “human-ness” and judgements.

    I’m rambling, but thanks for making me think so much this morning!

    1. Thanks for joining the conversation, Shawna. I do understand what you are saying about organized religion.

  6. I agree, definitely different things. I have faith. Big time. I happen to go to a Catholic church when I go to church, but I’m a heathen because I take what works for me and leave the rest. I persist in going to this church because of the comfort factor. And there are so many pieces and traditions I like.

    1. I was not, as I said somewhere else, brought up Catholic. I found the Catholic church in college when I was floundering and feeling very uncomfortable in the organized religion I grew up in. I walked into the Catholic church in my university town and fell in love with the church, the way the people supported each other, the way the priests supported the people. It was new for me. I have stayed with it for 27 years. Now, I am sure it is a comfort factor that keeps me in the parish I am in.

  7. Great post, Nicki.

    One of my minors is in Theology to broaden my understanding of world religions. It was great to learn about the similarity and differences of traditional religious practices and general underlying philosophy of other religions.

    But textbooks and discussions in an educational setting are much different from everyday-world daily practices. Today, I generally shy away from religion as it seems to be sadly misunderstood.

    Faith, yes. I test and question mine (which I think helps to strengthen it). When I need it, I find that I have it which is a really good thing.

    1. Belinda – I took several electives in college that were religion courses. I found them to be thought-provoking and probably some of the hardest courses I took.

      You are right that textbooks and class discussions are not the same as everyday practice.

  8. Eeeshk. Heavy topic for a Friday afternoon. 🙂 I go through cycles with both. While I know they’re not the same, my religion tends to keep my faith strong and at the front of my mind. Without the structure of religion, my faith suffers. But I struggle because many aspects of my religion don’t jive with my personal beliefes. It’s a juggling act for me.

    1. Believe it or not, Gale, I started this several days ago. I kept thinking it was unfinished but then realized, just this morning, that it said everything I wanted it to say.

  9. Wonderful post. People so often confuse religion with faith. As I wrote on Christmas, I consider myself a woman “of faith” and I gravitate toward people of faith, yet not a specific faith. Those who believe in something, and live their lives accordingly. That something may be about ethics, and goodness. More yes than no.

    The bottom line, many attend churches and temples and do not live their lives by standards even remotely close to what they profess, when inside the confines of a house of worship.

    Perhaps one of the reasons I don’t have a need to attend certain services or events, though occasionally, I enjoy it.

  10. I can see your point to some extent. I think having faith in something and organized religion are two different things. I am a Christian and have great faith in God. I attend church so that I can learn more about God and have fellowship with other Christians. I don’t consider myself “religious” because to me that implies following rituals. I consider my faith to be active and growing. The Bible defines what I believe to be true, not one particular church or religion.

    On a side note, I think I know of the church your youngest is attending for youth group, no? Just curious as to what seems cultish about that church to your son? And this is something we can discuss in person, too. I will admit that my church experiences are somewhat limited having only attended two churches before moving here. But curious as to what about this church seems like a cult to your oldest.

    1. Rebecca – My oldest, much to my chagrin, can be rather bigoted and truly believes his way is the only way. Drives me nuts. He got into a huge verbal discussion with a nun while in high school as he told her there was no way a Catholic could be a democrat. She went on about social teachings and he went on about abortion and euthanasia. I don’t know how he came out the way he is.

      I will have to dig a bit further with him about why he says cult. I was immediately annoyed when he said it as I didn’t want the youngest to think there was something wrong with the youth group as he is truly enjoying it so I told him he couldn’t discuss his thoughts on it in front of his brother since no one was making him go to the group. It seems like a great youth group and, as I said, the leader, who is a college student at BU, is someone whose family I know.

  11. Nicki, thanks for this lovely post. I do consider myself a woman of faith in a higher power whom I (hopefully) consider in all things. I have to think about the “faith in people” issue. I heard somewhere once that you should “trust God and love people” but not the other way around, which I thought was pretty interesting. For me, my children are always a work in progress, I have absolute faith in my husband, and others are on a case by case basis!

    I’m also quite devoted to my religion but much of my faith in God occurs outside of my synagogue’s walls, though I would say that I believe in a Jewish God.

    1. I have never heard “trust God and love people” before. That is an interesting phrase. Thanks for making me think.

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