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suzanna28's avatar

When people say "I am not religious" what does it mean exactly?

Asked by suzanna28 (684points) May 13th, 2011

Does it mean you believe in God but you don’t believe in religion?

Or does it mean neither religion or God has any place in your life?

I often get confused at this or what to answer if people ask me whether I am religious.

I am afraid if I say either no or yes it may be misinterpreted.

For me religious means that you don’t rigidly follow a religion but essentially you have and believe in one of the mainstream religions under christianity, judaism or islam.

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16 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

“Religious” and other terms in this discussion like “God” and “spirit” and “soul” are all ill-defined. Or rather, they have too many definitions. You never know which on a person means. So if some you asks you if you are religious, you have to ask them what they are asking. You can give them the two choices you gave in the details.

Or you can just talk about what you want to talk about. How do you want to be seen in terms of your relationship with religion. In your case, you follow a mainstream religion, but not rigidly.

FutureMemory's avatar

You are proactive in your religious beliefs/activities.

Seelix's avatar

It depends on the person. There are some people who believe in a god but don’t practice any particular religion. There are some who don’t believe in any god, and some who are unsure of whether a god exists.

You need to decide what you believe, and answer accordingly.

MonstrousPeace's avatar

I agree with @Seelix. It just depends on the person and how they view things.

DominicX's avatar

When I hear the question “are you religious?” I take it to mean “do you follow any particular religion?”. Some people do, however, take it to mean “do you believe in God?”, but that is not how I personally use the phrase.

Blackberry's avatar

I said this when I was too afraid to say I’m an atheist…...........

Aster's avatar

If someone said that to me I’d assume they didn’t believe in a Supreme Being or anything “supernatural.” Nothing.

everephebe's avatar

Ask them to elaborate, as it can mean a few things. However, don’t expect too much of an answer because it can be used as a deflective statement, rather like, “I don’t want to talk about it.”

I take it to mean, “I don’t practice religion.”

ucme's avatar

I’ve always took it to mean wheras they may believe in a god, they’re not a bible bashing maniac. That’s just one possible translation though.

Sunny2's avatar

I agree with @everephebe. I mean, I don’t go to worship at any particular place. I do believe that religions serve a purpose for many people, but not for me. On the other hand, I do believe in some religious principles, like the Golden Rule, but not because it’s religious. It’s a kind of vague question, isn’t it? Or maybe it’s my answer that’s vague.

Aster's avatar

@ucme that could be true, also. They believe in “something out there” and that’s it.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Me. I’m not religious, I don’t believe in gawds. There is a lot of religious dogma though that I do believe in, things created by man for the betterment of fellow man and also with respect to the rest around us.

Blondesjon's avatar

It means they are about to get as douchey and self-righteous as someone who is religious.

just back away slowly and avoid direct eye contact

podwarp's avatar

I went to Catholic schools growing and I still go to church every Sunday (courtesy of my mother). When I tell people “I’m not very religious”, I mean it in the sense that I’m often not very sure of my faith/I’m not a particularly devout person.

So, yes, I’d definitely fall in line with your definition as well.

I’m not sure I’ve heard “religious” as an all inclusive word for belief in God/gods.

_zen_'s avatar

Yes to the first example.

downtide's avatar

When I say it, it means that I don’t believe in god and I don;t practise any kind of religion. I do know some other people though, who say it but mean they do believe in god, but still don’t actually practise any religion.

If you’re unsure about someone in particular, you would have to ask them which way they mean.

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