dharmagoat wrote:Based on the various people I have met over the years, I find that those that are happy to be classed as "religious" have an air of stability and authority, whereas those that are "spiritual" have a tendency toward naïvety and self-centeredness.
I've had the same experience.
Religion generally entails long-term commitment and abiding by the long distilled albeit difficult to initially understand wisdom of a given tradition, while spirituality can be anything you want it to be. It is very customizable and liberal. Personal and inclusive. I can understand why this would appeal to most western people.
In Taiwan here "religion" (zongjiao 宗教) is not distinguished from any kind of separate "spirituality", much like how it was in the west some decades ago. There is also not much negative associations with religion. The idea of separation of "church and state" is not really a big deal either it seems. Religion in Taiwan tends to be very group oriented, whether it is visiting local shrines with your family or being part of a Buddhist or Christian organization as a committed volunteer in some capacity.
Curiously in Japan they've adopted the English word "spiritual". The equivalent word "religion" (shukyo 宗教) has come to have negative associations after the AUM Shinrikyo incident in the 90s coupled with the wars in the Middle East.