The Hot Topics Many Avoid During the Holidays – Religion, Politics, and Healthcare

Want to clear out the room almost as fast as a fire alarm going off?

Bring up either politics, religion, and/or healthcare at your next family gathering!

Bonus points if you do this to someone with alternative viewpoints.

Not in all instances, but for the most part, the result would be…


In regard to these subjects, many hold strong beliefs. The debate on the “accuracy” of differing opinions on them can cause an outpouring of toxic emotional reactivity, particularly during these tumultuous times. (source, source)

Living in America, the allowance of worshiping of various religions is a freedom that many are grateful for, but not all people are as fortunate. Furthermore, throughout history there continues to be the debate on the separation of politics from religion. (source) This is especially brewing right now.

I’ll avoid political commentaries as I have no expertise to even comment on them.

The point is, during the holidays, many pause their everyday life to observe yearly traditions and bond with family and friends. It is also the time of year that various religious observations and spiritual practices occur and overlap.

This combination of (1) coming together with loved ones we haven’t seen in a while, (2) the intensifying of the polarizing of these several “hot topics,” and (3) the heightened religious and spiritual awareness can mix together to create a healing salve or make for a very stressful holiday.

In this and upcoming articles, I’d like to explore spirituality and religion with you and how it relates to health and well-being.

I feel because many people celebrate Christmas, regardless of religion, it’s a perfect opportunity to dive into these subjects.

It is my hope that with more understanding the holy and holiday events can join with medicine this year to create a contagion of love.

Maybe love, regardless of what spirituality, religion, or secular belief it spurs from, can be a powerful factor to bring about healing to our psychology, emotions, and physiology after all we’ve collectively been through?

We need love now more than ever.

But… it takes more than a hope for it.

It will involve everyone’s awareness.

It’s a big order but let us dream of possibilities and think bigger.

Let’s dive in and get started….

First, I’ll discuss the difference between spirituality and religion.

Next, I’ll take you through some statistics of religion in America.

Then, in an upcoming post, I’ll review the link between health and religion. Of course, I’ll mention essential oils as well.

Now, let’s find out if you are religious, spiritual, or neither.

Spirituality and/or Religion?

Here are some key points and differences between spirituality and religion.

1. Spirituality and religion are not necessarily the same thing, but they are connected. According to Psychology Today:

The purpose of religion, in general, is to unite a group of people under the same values and principles and to facilitate their collective and individual communication with a Higher Power and/or philosophy. In other words, religion was meant to enhance spirituality.

That said, it must also be said that it is entirely possible to be a very religious person yet be totally out of touch with spirituality and its essential connection to an authentic Self. On the other hand, true spirituality unites a person with his or her authentic Self.

That is not said to separate the two, for it is also entirely possible to be both religious and spiritual. On the other hand, it is also possible to be so caught up in religion that one does not make room for the spirit (or Spirit) to express or become known at all.

2. Religion tends to be based on external influences, spirituality more on internal factors.

Spirituality is a very personal and individual journey into the inner terrain of one’s own soul. The person on such a spiritual journey may use all manner of external tools to facilitate that journey—including attendance to a church, temple, or mosque, and/or reading of certain sacred texts, and/or joining and engaging with others in various spiritual practices, and/or spending time in one-on-one conversation or counseling by and with certain spiritual leaders. But the person on the journey is deciding on the direction of the journey; it is not being decided on for him by external authorities or texts. (source)

3. Religion can be linked to psychology.

In psychology it is thought that there are some instances where religious practices can impact mental health. In the Psychology Today article, the author highlights how religion can be harmful to the psyche in certain instances:

Religion that teaches us that we must rely completely on external advice or external books—as opposed to listening to the urging of one’s own soul—is a religion that is destructive to mental health. Certainly, external advice can be useful, but only in the case in which the person receiving that advice authentically agrees with that advice. Certainly, sacred texts are useful, but the interpretations of those texts should be processed through the mind, heart, and soul of each individual, rather than set down as final truth by an external authority… (source)

I mention some other instances highlighted in other studies later on in this series.


A Summary on the Basic Differences of Religion and Spirituality

Universal Life Church provides a detailed summary on the difference between spirituality and religion in the following excerpt:

The basic difference between spirituality and religion is that religion — any religion — works from the outside in while spirituality works from the inside out.

Of the three main religious faiths, each bases its beliefs on a book as follows:

  • Judaism — the Hebrew Bible a/k/a Tanakh, Temakh, Tenak, Tanach or Mikra, containing most of the same stories and historical accounts as in the Christian Old Testament
  • Christianity — the Bible, containing the Old Testament (basically the Hebrew Bible) and the New Testament, containing the birth, life, death, resurrection, and teachings of Jesus, according to his followers and additional later writers
  • Islam — the Qur’an, containing the word of Allah, his attributes, and man’s relationship with him, as well as directions for his followers and historical accounts of certain prophets, mainly Mohammed, and peoples

These foundational books tell Jews, Christians and Muslims how to think, act and view the world based on God and what these books say he wants out of humankind. It also tells Jews, Christians and Muslims what punishments they will receive if they don’t “act like you’re supposed to.”

Spirituality, on the other hand, begins with you. It has no foundational book.

Now that we have an idea of spirituality and religion, I want to express to how you important this topic is by how much it impacts everyone.

I will next highlight some statistics on religion in America, but please note that it is perhaps even more integrated in other areas of the world.

Religion in America

According to PRRI (Public Religion Research Institute), a “nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to conducting independent research at the intersection of religion, culture, and public policy,” in 2020 Christianity dominated religious affiliation in America:

Seven in ten Americans (70%) identify as Christian, including more than four in ten who identify as white Christian and more than one-quarter who identify as Christian of color. Nearly one in four Americans (23%) are religiously unaffiliated, and 5% identify with non-Christian religions.

Interestingly, various factors play a role in religious practices. Age, political affiliation, race, gender, and ethnicity were found to be correlated with religious affiliation. Regarding age, it seems the youth are the most religiously diverse of all ages:

Americans ages 18–29 are the most religiously diverse age group. Although a majority (54%) are Christian, only 28% are white Christians (including 12% who are white mainline Protestants, 8% who are white Catholics, and 7% who are white evangelical Protestants), while 26% are Christians of color (including 9% who are Hispanic Catholics, 5% who are Hispanic Protestants, 5% who are Black Protestants, 2% who are multiracial Christians, 2% who are AAPI Christians, and 1% who are Native American Christians). More than one-third of young Americans (36%) are religiously unaffiliated, and the remainder are Jewish (2%), Muslim (2%), Buddhist (1%), Hindu (1%), or another religion (1%). (source)

With so many impacted by religion and spirituality, it seems vital to consider it as a major influencer in one’s psychological and biological health.

Don’t you agree?

The Medicine of Love

I believe spirituality and religion are relevant to healthcare, as much as any modality or intervention.

In fact, they may be something that can unify people, rather than divide them. This would be healing in itself, as we know the impact of social relationships.

Furthermore, these practices can help many to cope with the current medical crisis and sociological factors by spreading more hope, acceptance, and tolerance.

As I previously noted:

Regardless of belief or faith, any religious holiday is a time of reflection and devotion. What they have in common is a unification of a community. What Christmas can bring, with its popularity, regardless of how we got it so secularly accepted, is an opportunity to pause and allow the spirit of love to act like medicine coursing through our veins.

Yes, love is medicine.  And, yes, I stand before you and say, I do believe in the spirit of Santa Clause. I’ve seen both the emotion and the selfless humanity reflected throughout the year, in so many different individuals.

As humankind continues to fight and declare war on the body and each other, I propose we may all be arguing for the wrong method of attaining health. Rather than aiming to move away from fear (of a diagnosis, of getting hurt, or losing our identity), we could be moving toward love.  In fact, there’s evidence that love may in fact be what allows for survival…more on that later.  Love exerts such a powerful effect on the body, some can become “addicted” to it!

I don’t proclaim to be a sociologist or a politician, nor do I have authority on how best to address the world’s disagreements and societal divisions.

What I can talk about is science and biology. After all, trying to explain the mysteries of the universe and the human body is a language of love to me. Using the mind to find the solution to problems of the body, through this language of love, is the spirit that called many healers and doctors to practice their medicine.

In the upcoming articles, I’m going to explore more about the science of spirituality.

I’ll also discuss one author’s viewpoint on how to integrate it into healthcare and how essential oils can be used to enhance its practice.

Let me end with a wish for us all.

My Wish for Us All

This year, I hope many will unite in the medicine and religion of love.

This will take some work on our part. It will mean stepping back, pausing and sniffing essential oils when we are triggered.

It will mean incorporating mindfulness practices so we can respond vs. react with calmness and understanding. (See these resources.)

When dealing with isolation and loneliness, we can also use our holistic tools to find our own self-love and spread this out to others. (See these resources.)

Wherever we find ourselves this holiday, moving forward, perhaps we can listen to others to find the commonality of our humanness rather than find reasons to be offended by others’ beliefs?

It’s a tall order, I know.

These are very emotional, triggering times.

Regardless of your decision to join in the movement of healing with love…

I hope you have beautiful holiday.

Merry Christmas and blessings to all sacred religious observations.

I love you.

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Disclaimer: This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. (Affiliation link.)

According to experts and the World Health Organization (WHO), there is no approved standard of care treatment, cure, or preventative for COVID-19. Supportive measures and containment are in full force as a result. Please see the CDC website and your state’s website for more information and updates. They also state when to contact your physician related to symptoms and travel history, exposures. Please read my more detailed article on this subject here.

This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.

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