Religion and the INFJ

I’ve often seen INFJs described as an intensely spiritual type. Yet a little while ago, in an online INFJ group, someone posted that most INFJs are atheist or agnostic. Being a type that appreciates truth, someone else set up a poll trying to see if that was really the case.

It’s a small, volunteer sample group, but the results were interesting. 36% identified as atheist, agnostic or non-religious. That’s the same percentage that identified with a Christian religious sect. The remaining 28% identified as “spiritual” or with a non-Christian religion.

INFJs approach religion much like we approach everything else: with an open, inquisitive mind looking for patterns, especially those relating to people. Our relationship with spirituality largely depends on how we were raised and the direction our lives took from there. But it also depends on our journeys of personal growth, how the religions we encounter line-up with our convictions, and whether or not faith “makes sense” to us.

The Hypocrisy Factor

Many INFJs I’ve seen talking about being non-religious started out in a church of some sort and then left. As with many people who leave churches, hypocrisy is often cited as the reason. INFJs are exceptionally good at detecting deception. We can read people well and pick up on inconsistencies in their patterns of behavior very quickly. At the same time, we want to believe the best of people and it can take a long time for us to admit someone who we value would betray us.

When we do “wake up” to deception or decide we’ve had enough, the reaction is typically quick and decisive (hence the INFJ door slam). A hurt, disillusioned INFJ might door slam the people who betrayed them, religion itself, or even God. Some shift to a different religion that lines-up with their core values. Some maintain a sense of spiritualism without any sort of structure that could qualify as “religion.” Others reject religion entirely.

It Has to Make Sense

INFJs are rarely described as “sensible.” But even at our most otherworldly and abstract, we want things to make sense to us. It doesn’t have to fit anyone else’s way of thinking, but it has to fit the INFJ. We don’t appreciate self-deception any more than we do having someone else mislead us.

If an INFJ’s religious beliefs don’t fit into how they believe the world works, they won’t be happy. Religion should make the world make more, not less, sense to an INFJ. If it doesn’t, they’ll find another explanation (typically turning to science and rational thinking, perhaps blended with spirituality).

INFJs are content with recognizing not everything can be explained in a logical fashion, but they want their beliefs to fit with the explanations they have. If we put our faith in something larger than ourselves, we want it to answer questions for us and be a safe place to ask more questions about life, the universe, and everything.

Why Some of Us Stay

INFJs seek connection to something larger than ourselves, and many of us do that within a spiritual belief system. We often find belonging in an established religion, but it’s also an INFJ thing to walk out your own beliefs in your own way. The more mature, confident, and comfortable with themselves an INFJ is, the more they’ll “do their own thing.” It’ll be in a peaceful, respectful, and non-confrontational fashion (unless you try to hurt an innocent or cross us on a deeply held principle), but we will stay true to our convictions.

Personally, I hit a point in my late teen years where I nearly walked away from organized religion. I think a large part of why I didn’t was that my family always encouraged developing a relationship with God independent of any church group. But they also taught me that fellowship with other believers is important and I shouldn’t blame God or good people for the actions of the bad apples in any given group. Over a few rather trying years, both those things became part of my personal beliefs rather than just something I’d been taught. At the same time, my faith in God deepened and became so much a part of who I am that I define myself as “Christian” before anything else, including INFJ.

I’m sure many religious INFJs have a similar story. There was a point where you had to decide what you believed and how you were going to live your life, regardless of what other people thought, said, or did. If you’re happily, devotedly attached to a faith it’s likely because it has become part of your core identity.


What about you? What has your religious and/or spiritual journey as an INFJ (or any other type who wants to weigh-in) looked like?

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34 thoughts on “Religion and the INFJ

  1. INFJ here, atheist in the sense I abhor the idea of religion and man made concept of God. I would like to believe there is something out there, but I put no labels on it because nobody really knows for sure. what we can confirm is that we are all ‘energy’ and that determines everything. Spiritual? Yes, incredibly.

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  2. A Christian INFJ, I grew up in a Protestant church; as an adult, attended a couple different Protestant churches, eventually left church attendance altogether. Yes, it was the hypocrisy and self-serving attitudes.
    After doing some study on my own, I’ve embraced Gnostic Christianity and reincarnation. For me, it answers the question: ‘why do bad things happen to good people’ and eliminates the inclination to blame God.
    Also, my faith is augmented by realizing that God sends no one to Hell. Evil people choose Hell (absence from God) because they’re not comfortable around Goodness. โค๏ธ

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  3. I’m an INFJ Christian. I grew up going to church since I was a baby, and I’ve always felt that need to have a spiritual connection with God. There was only one church I left growing up, because of hypocrisy and many people started gossiping. Otherwise, I still go to church. I feel there are many many things in the world that we need God’s faith and strength for.

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  4. I love learning about how my INFJ personality informs other areas of my life. I was raised Christian but have always been a skeptic by nature. It’s hard for me to label my spiritual stance because I’m so invested in the journey of learning what is true to the best of my ability, and there is so much to consider. Thank you for these insights; they ring very true for me.

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    • I’m glad you enjoyed the post ๐Ÿ™‚ I also love learning about how type relates to other areas of our lives. It’s one of the reasons I like to write these kinds of articles and why I’m so happy to hear from other INFJs in the comments.

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  5. I think I’m at the point of crossroads, deciding whether or not religion makes sense for me or not. It’s made difficult since everyone in my family are religious, Sunday-church goers, so I fear alienating myself from them if I do decide that religion isn’t really for me. Whatever I end up choosing, I have no ill will towards organized religions and will remain respectful.

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    • Having family involved does make things more complicated — worrying about how they’ll respond and trying not to hurt them. I hope things work out well for you ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for commenting!

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  6. I found this post really interesting, seeing as this is something I have been grappling with. I grew up Catholic, but in recent years have become increasingly frustrated with Catholic politics, and I have become really upset with how people use the Bible to justify being intolerant. To me, God is all loving and doesn’t care who you are, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. So, I do still believe in God, but I don’t much participate in organized religion anymore, because I want religion to be something more personal. But of course there are people who are in an organized religion and are amazing, kind, open-minded people. So my decision is only for myself, and I definitely respect those who are in any religion (or no religion/atheist) and those who choose to practice it in a group or alone. It’s all about what’s personally best for ourselves!

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  7. Christian INFJ. I grew up in a religious family. There was a time I questioned my faith and “walked my own path”, but now I walk with God. Like others have commented, I’m open minded. I’m not judgemental, I still question things at times, and I don’t go to church on a regular basis, but I do believe in God and I believe Jesus Christ is our savior. I “feel” it, but I’ve been known to fight it, too. I could probably be summed up as one of God’s “stubborn” children.

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  8. I admire your courage to write about it and put it out there. I grew up in New York and family now has 3 religions in it but I find that it caused too much separation and guilt. I believe in a higher power and God is a very private matter for me as you can see, because I have 3 religions within it. As an INFJ; I have a hard time belonging to any organization that promotes to think the same way, I don’t have children and was married for 10 years; he passed away 2 years after our divorce. I do find that it is important for families to have a belief system in God that compliments their foundation, activities and direction in life. Personally for me, I don’t feel the need to belong to a church; only because I personally felt judged or influenced to live a way, every one else did. Isn’t that the ultimate INFJ struggle?

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  9. I could write so much if I were to get into my own story on this topic!
    I will mention that two things have brought me to an unexpected and deeply complicated point in my spiritual life.
    1. A two decade marriage to a *highly* sophisticated covert narcissistic abuser whose false self cover for deep psychological abuse appears as the model of Christian humility and awesomeness. Detangling this is a nightmare.
    2. The long experience with one of my near -adult children, who suffers from issues that are pure torture– mentally and socially. I have prayed and worked my heart and soul out. I have been with him screaming that he wants to die, begging God to at least provide some comfort, if not cure. My faith had been to the point that I accepted that, no matter what life’s suffering, in the end with death it will be ok, and in the meantime God is always with is and comforts with his presence. But what of someone who suffers (truly suffers) without cure or answer AND cannot receive spiritual comfort? Chiristians love answered prayer! conquering faith! deliverance! healing! If only you do, say and pray the right things for long enough, and have enough faith… (And surely, “isn’t there a pill or program that fixes that?”) People love the “BY FAITH” stories in Hebrews 11 of victories. They don’t talk much about the enduring BY FAITH and being sawn in two, wandering destitute stories also in Hebrews 11. Our situation disappoints the warped expectations. So the only answer to this scary challenge to their comforting illusion is… attack those who challenge it. Clearly, you must not have enough faith? You must not be doing and praying the right things? In defense of their false illusions– because reality is terrifying indeed– Christians can be so destructive and hurtful. Again, the detangling is a nightmare. But also, yes, INFJ’s want their faith to be real (on point about the intolerance for self-deception!) and for their faith to help make sense of things to be valuable…

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    • I’m so sorry to hear about your abusive marriage and your son’s struggles. I can’t imagine how hard that’s been for you and your family. And it’s not made any easier when well-meaning (or otherwise) Christians’ words of attempted comfort ring hollow or they become defensive and hurtful.

      My dad shared with me this morning that he’s been doing a Bible study on Jude 1:3: โ€œit was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.โ€ The word translated โ€œearnestly contendโ€ is derived from the Greek word agon, which is where English gets the word โ€œagony.โ€ Our walk of faith involves struggle and conflict, sometimes agonizing ones. Paul knew that, even if some Christians today would rather ignore it, and he talked about the suffering he went through and a โ€œthorn in the fleshโ€ he battled even after conversion (2 Cor 11:22-12:10).

      I do believe that God will help us endure by faith, but I wonder if the promises that God will provide comfort in trials are often fulfilled in ways we don’t expect. It might not be an alleviation of the present trial, but rather helping us to have a perspective like Paul’s when he said, โ€œI consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.โ€ Or it might come in the form of another person who is there to help us through. I don’t know much about your son’s situation, but I wonder if perhaps you are the main source of comfort and help that God is providing him right now.

      We’re not promised an easy walk of faith and the church shouldn’t condemn people who struggle with terrible trials. We should help each other as much as we can, and I’m sorry that hasn’t been your experience with other Christians. I hope you don’t mind if I keep you and your son in my prayers.

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      • Yes, please do. The comfort is not for me; it is for him. He cannot perceive intangible spiritual comfort, communication from God, God’s presence, or have that perspective of which you speak. Whether due to the autism piece (one of several pieces) or whatever. The mental torture is unabated– simple activities like reading become torturous, leaving little respite or place to just exist. No medication or treatment has touched it. He has literally NO place in this world. No job, no friends– not one sincere friend in his entire life (the exclusion starts early), no meaning. He is of normal intelligence, so is painfully aware of how very excluded he is from all aspects of normal life. (Not at all like a disability such as Downs Syndrome, for which people have some physical clue and some level of compassion and accommodation is triggered for people, and there is a lowered need/form of stimulation due to lower intelligence.) He is so angry that God does not speak to him or provide relief or even means of living a life at all, despite crying out sincerely so many times for comfort, that he says he wants to “kill God and violently torture him.”

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  10. Fellow INFJ here ๐Ÿ™‚ I was raised Roman-Catholic, went to school with friends from around the world. They practiced and believed all sorts of faiths. As I grew older, I couldn’t reconcile how my religion, or anyone else’s was THE RIGHT one, or superior to my friends (who were all great people). Being a Caribbean female, I started to struggle with the unspoken social hierarchy in Catholicism, then through my exploration of Buddhism, Atheism left me with a bit of a void, then I found my peace feeling connected to Universal Source energy.

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  11. I love this, you are so dead on. My story could be the same as yours. My faith is not dependant on the actions of others but on my own foundation. And it is the most important aspect of my life. Your article was accurate and so clear with who I am as an infj I could have wrote it myself! Thank you!

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  12. Hello, I’m an INFJ Christian. Faith and relationship with God are what make it work for me. I sometimes feel like I could do without the organised religion part and just spend all time time hanging out with Jesus but the more time I spend with Him the more He challenges me to step out of my comfort zone and be His hands and feet to this broken world. I really loved your blog ๐Ÿ™‚

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  13. Agnostic, door-slamming INFJ here. I was raised conservative Protestant and my family still is. My ex-husband, is still a liberal Protestant pastor. It was a long journey but this is life is so much more precious now that it isn’t watered down by an imaginary afterlife. I’ve blogged about it a little at Breaking Up with Jesus (link below) if you want the whole story.

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  14. INFJ and Catholic… interesting to read the comments on here. I feel like I need God, I can talk and He will understand where at the moment I don’t think anyone around me, family, even close friends, really get who I am or how I feel.

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    • I know what you mean. I’ve got some great friends and family, but God’s there at a level people just can’t be. He’s so much a part of my life I don’t even want to think about not having my faith.

      I love reading all the comments, too. Having so many different INFJs weighing in has made this post so much better than it was when I published it!

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  15. . I’ve never once felt fullifilled or happy within the confines of a religion. Every single religion including this new age stuff has found me hitting a wall. Something always comes up that I believe to be a falsehood. Perhaps many INFJ folks and religion are an oil/water blend.

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  16. Catholic INFJ here ๐Ÿ™‚
    I was raised in catholic family but when I was teenager I realised that my religion was like going to church every sunday and trying to be “good” for everyone and nothing more. I also noticed hypocrisy. And I decided to leave church as soon as I am 18. Well, I didn’t do that and now I am sure that it was God’s plan to make me stay. But for a few years I only knew that God exists and that I want to discover what was His purpose to create so weird human being like me – I think all INFJs understand this feeling… ;). It was really hard time for me. Of course I had friends who also belived in God but for them faith was “easy”: God exists and that’s all. Not for me. Finally, by accident, I found something for me: ignatian retreats – 5 days in silence, you read Bible and pray and talk only 20 minutes for a day with your “spiritual director”. I must say that was the most important 5 days in my life. I’ve learned how to see God in my everyday life, I discovered who exactly He is, but I also get known myself. And young jesuit, who was my spiritual director, was the first soul-mate I’ve met (now, after discovering MBTI, I think he was INTJ or INFJ like me), the first person that understood me and helped me accept that I am “different”.
    I want to say two things:
    Firstly, it is important to find a soul-mate (hard but possible), who you can talk with about this spiritual stuff without feeling like an alien :). As INFJ I’m good in listening and giving wise advice even about faith but when it comes to MY doubts… well, it’s like big mess in my head. I may know a lot but I need other person to hear what I’m going through and sometimes I also need advice.
    Secondly, as INFJ I hate religion without questions about meaning of life etc., I look for spirituality and for me it’s something deeper than just going to church, something behind the world, something like being close to God but on the other hand being able to concentrate of what can I do to make the world better. “Seek God in everywhere” and “find the best way to serve others” – that are main rules of ignatian spirituality and rules of my life.

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    • I read a book not long ago where the author mentioned going on an ignatian retreat. I’m intrigued by the idea of spending so much time focused on God and being in His presence — and I’m glad that was so helpful to you! Thanks for your comment ๐Ÿ™‚

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  17. I fall into the spiritual category. Raised methodist, still will go when I’m with my mom, because it’s a very inoffensive level of Christianity in what our tiny church has evolved into. But it definitely stopped feeling right during my teens. Once I started college, I stopped going of my own accord. Your spirituality explanations fit me perfectly.

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  18. Ateist.
    Along the education highway, one must ask the question. Is there a ultimate being and why? Every time I see religion, I see people who are giving away responsibility and claiming it’s a higher beings fault/meaning/way. Through history religion(man-made) is the number 1 killer of humanity.
    The only way I think is, we have one world atm and don’t fuck it up. I have a weak hope that people might start to take responsibility and start cleaning up.
    We live in a dust speck of the universe, so don’t start getting grandure feelings about divinity.

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  19. I can’t tell you how relieved I am to have run across this post. I’m an INFJ, and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or LDS/Mormon). I really love what you said about things needing to make sense, because that is exactly why I have stayed with my faith (a concept I have struggled to explain to others). It fits me. I choose it because it resonates the strongest with my personal convictions. And the more I learn from it and live it, I feel continual peace that I’m going the right way. It was never because someone guilted me into it or because everyone else was doing it. I grew up in this faith, and didn’t understand a lot about it at first. I had my own times of questioning and skepticism in my teenage years, especially while watching many beloved friends and family members leave. I started questioning why I stayed, and the answer that always came back to me was simply that: It just made sense to me. It always has. So I started paying attention to that. And that’s what caused me to start developing a personal relationship with God and with my Savior. That led me to life experiences that have helped me understand so much more about how present They are in my life and what kind of person I need to be. My faith doesn’t restrict my life, it complements it. It inspires me to look outside of myself, and sits well with my innate desire to bring good to the world around me. Though I certainly struggle here and there with being lukewarm, at some point I always come back and make a choice to revisit my faith on a deeper level. And it always feels right when I do.
    I strongly believe that truth and light can be found in many places, so while I am part of an organized religion, I appreciate that there are many different types and levels of spirituality out there, and I sincerely hope that everyone finds what works for them. It’s such a personal thing to me, as I can imagine it is for many others. I don’t believe anyone should be coerced to be part of something that doesn’t sit right with them. I know if ever someone tried to do that to me, the INFJ in me would be fighting back with both fists! Lol. Thanks so much again for this post ๐Ÿ™‚

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  20. Atheist here.
    This has been a long journey for me, but like many of the other nonreligious INFJs it never felt right. I guess I can go back and forth a little between infj/intj because when things get to emotionally intense I will become very logical. I know logically that atheism makes the most sense. I don’t deny that I’m a bit spiritual, but in regards to what I call “good energy”. I try to help those in need, I volunteer, I donate to charity. I believe I’m a genuinely good person.
    I don’t bash anyone that’s religious, unless I see them actually causing harm (in the name of religion). But I do ask people who I like a question- the answers are usually so interesting.
    – if there wasn’t a bible or any history of god, yet it was still universally accepted, what do you think the tenants would be?
    Personally I believe it’s “do good” and it’s really that simple.

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    • Thanks for your comment ๐Ÿ™‚ “Feeling right” and “making sense” mean so much to our type when settling on a worldview. One thing I love about the comments on this post is that it’s so interesting to get the perspectives of people coming from both religious and non-religious perspectives.

      Hum, an interesting question. I suspect that from the beginning the two great commands — love God with all you are and love your neighbor as yourself — were known, and that’s what God originally intended to govern human interactions and the law written in the Bible basically expands on those principles. I know that’s still a very Christians perspective, but it’s the background for how I’d answer your question: that the basic tenant would be to practice selfless, benevolent love. Which is pretty much what you said about doing good.

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  21. Super interesting…I’ve always considered myself more spiritual than religious. The traditional religion I have experienced has always seemed too condescending and ‘judgey’ to me. I grew up in a home where both my parents were raised in a traditionally religious home (i.e church every Sunday and holiday, etc) but they did not continue that with their children. The concept of right and wrong and morality were always underlying themes in our home, but whenever I asked why we didn’t go to church I was told that it was essentially full of people that sinned all week long and then asked for redemption on Sunday only to begin anew on Monday with all the things they had just asked for redemption for… When I got to an age where I wanted to experience church for myself, my parents had no objections and took me to youth groups and Sunday sermons and I completely understood where they were coming from. It just doesn’t fit for me…I can’t wrap my head around the concept of a religion that discrimates or casts judgements on anyone based on their sexual preference!! If I had to sum up my beliefs, it would be that religion is greater than anything that can be put in a book…it’s kindness, understanding, forgiveness, and a feeling of something beyond comprehension guiding us as a human race! Hope this makes sense! (FYI, not sure if I’m INFJ or ISFJ)

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