I tend to think of spirituality as the real deal and religion as just an institution.
That said, however, I don't doubt that at least some here feel differently and see religion (though perhaps only their own
chosen religion) and spirituality as inseparable. Out of respect for those people, I'm not sure I'm comfortable with the idea of saying this forum is exclusively for the subject of spirituality and not religion, though admittedly it is titled "spirituality and survivors" and not "religion and survivors".
I suspect that choice of title was intended to keep it as open and inclusive as possible though.
Personally I think the problems that arise in this forum don't have so much to do with the differences between spirituality and religion as they do with the ability of the participants to interact respectfully and to be tolerant of differing viewpoints.
To be frank, I feel the biggest threat to this forums purpose is the dynamics which make it susceptible to domination by one or a few select groups or brands of spirituality wherein other groups with pronounced differences to the dominant one/ones feel that any expression of their
spiritual/religious beliefs may come under massive attack or even be censored because of those expressions being viewed as somehow denigrating to the beliefs of the dominant group/groups.
There are two things that come to mind that I think need to be observed by all parties concerned to keep that from happening.
One is being careful of the language used so that our statements pertain to our own subjective feelings rather than declare some absolute..For instance, my saying "I am a Taoist because other belief systems don't make as much sense to me." is preferable to my saying "I am a Taoist because other belief systems are stupid."
But that only goes so far. However careful one may be in the wording of one's statements, there are going to be things said that directly contradict the cherished beliefs of others.
So the other thing that I feel is extremely
important in this forum is that all who post here be as tolerant as they possibly can of viewpoints that contradict their own, and be able to respect the other's right to have and express those opinions without being compelled to try to silence them, have them censored, take personal offense simply because the others opinion contradicts their own or militantly defend their own opposing views to the point of disrespect.
There is nothing inherently wrong with having disagreements, and there's nothing wrong with respectfully stating your disagreement and your reasons for it.
But if every viewpoint that contradicts yours is perceived as a threat or an insult that must be neutralized somehow, then it is easy for large groups of people who all agree with each other about most things to create a climate of exclusivity and intolerance in which those with less common views/belief structures must feel as though they have no voice and are not supported in expressing how they feel or what they are going through in their own spiritual journey and that is hurtful.
I'm not saying it's always easy to practice that kind of tolerance. I mean if my revered spiritual leader is the Dali Lama and someone is stating that he is just some posing douche bag, it might be hard to not get overly defensive even if that sentiment is stated in less offensive terms. But if it just happens that the majority of people currently using this forum are devotees of the Dali Lama and feel that anyone talking about Jesus Christ as their lord and savior is, by doing so, disrespecting the Dali Lama, then this forum will have turned into what would be better called the Dali Lama Club instead of the spiritual forum.
We are all survivors here, but we are also different people with different needs. Of course we all most likely feel our own set of beliefs is the right one for everyone, but even if it is, we can't bring others with different ideas to our way of thinking by jamming our own beliefs down their throats or trying to keep them from expressing their own ideas.
Sorry this turned into such a sermon, but these thoughts have been on my mind for a while now and I couldn't resist the opportunity to get them out here. I'll shut up now.
PS Sorry if I deviated from the intended topic. I just felt it was an important piece to consider as well with regard to the purpose of the forum.