In our society, religion can have many negative effects, including abuse, hypocrisy, and extremism. Large-scale acts of terrorism and religious fanaticism often give religion a bad name. Religious institutions are often associated with terrorism and hate speech, but smaller acts of secret terrorism can also contribute to the negative image of religion. Such secret terrorism includes spousal abuse and threats against non-compliant children. It also often involves incorrect reading of sacred texts.
Although religion and spirituality are often used interchangeably, researchers note the differences between the two terms. While some sources define religion as worshiping a God, others describe it as a sense of community. Using a grounded theory approach, researchers have identified that there are dissimilar definitions of religion. For example, some sources define religion as worshipping a god and going to church.
Religious groups often have long histories and are deeply rooted in creeds, rituals, and doctrines. People who follow these religious traditions are expected to conduct themselves according to certain rules and adhere to certain social behaviors. These rules, embodied in laws and codes, are intended to give community members guidance and provide certainty during uncertain times.
Religion and spirituality can have a positive effect on our mental health. When people engage in religious practices and beliefs, they find meaning and purpose. These beliefs can help them overcome personal problems, and promote a sense of purpose and forgiveness. While the benefits of religion are diverse, it is generally believed that they contribute to a reduction in the incidence of alcoholism, drug use, and suicide.