Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Religious Diversity: Religion vs Spirituality

 To follow up on David's post on religion:

There is a huge difference between religion and spirituality. If you find yourself identifying with one or the other, then you probably also recognize a difference. I have personally found people to be vastly offended when referred to as one but identify as the other. In regards to the social work profession, I understand spirituality to be a person's own interpretation, values, morals, beliefs, and personal practices. Conversely, religion includes the fundamental basics of spirituality but also includes a routine practice of said religion typically via participation in community activities.

As David said, "In an age with growing religious intolerance, especially Islamophobia, Anti-Semitism, persecution of Christians, Mormons, Baha'i and other groups, people in all corners of the globe live in fear for their very lives for the truths they believe they hold."

By educating oneself about various religions we decrease the chance of being intolerant. Additionally, with greater self-awareness we are better equipped to educate and empower our peers and beyond.

Why is it that America acknowledges the law of separation of church and state, yet it criticizes politicians that are not mainstream Christian (ehemm, Mitt Romney)? We are a nation founded by immigrants, with countless religious traditions, yet we cannot seem to get out of our own way when it comes to discussing religion; and since spirituality is personal, we really do not want to touch that!

So now we turn to the social work profession. What does cultural competence have to do with religion? Answer: EVERYTHING! For example, the University of Connecticut School of Social Work strives at including cultural competence into nearly all of the courses, yet religion is rarely if ever discussed in the classroom. While not discussing 'hot topics' avoids conflict in the classroom, it does not prepare students for the 'real world'; especially in careers that are centered around religion and spirituality.
Thus, the core components of social work education need to adapt to include religion and spirituality "in order to remain true to its principles, ethical codes and its commitment to human rights."

1 comment:

  1. The differences are very clear as night and day