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.

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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.

click to read article, "Religion and the INFJ" | marissabaker.wordpress.com
image credit: Amanda Jordan via StockSnap

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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67 thoughts on “Religion and the INFJ

  • Muslim INFJ. Seeing lists of famous INFJ’s I’m not surprised that the poll results were almost equally split into thirds amongst atheist, Christianity, and others. I can bet that most religious infjs have their own non-traditional interpretation alongside the traditions they respectfully follow. Due to the fact that we question, and need to have beliefs that fit us.
    I find I can’t relate to the super religious who cling to rules for dear life. And who lose sight of the essence of Islam which is to submit to God’s Will. Yet I also cannot relate to the nominal Muslims who do not practice any religion at all and are Muslim by name or heritage. (I guess for us if we call ourselves something it needs to be authentic. And isn’t this typical of infjs who fit in nowhere? )
    Being Muslim is about submitting to God’s will. So for others it’s about following every inch of religious ruling, which I don’t disagree with totally, but only if it’s intended to bring you closer to God, subduing the self created ego to the higher purpose of attaining the heights of spirituality.
    For when we let go of our egos, we have nothing to fight for and defend. We simply be. We flow with the changes of life, accept who we are, our weaknesses and strengths, and try our utmost to achieve things we want in life while accepting the outcomes for what they are. Whether according to our plan or not.
    After grappling with hypocrisy and what I see as unislamic constituents in my community, I’ve studied religious and non-religious sources, (secular subjects science, maths, economics etc are all reflections of the spiritual elements) and found my own understanding. We are all one. We are from God and will return to Him. (Who in Islam is neither male nor female). There’s a purpose for everything and every outcome. In this I can find peace and contentment even when things are going disastrously wrong. Knowing nothing lasts forever except God and our connection with him. It gives me not only the strength to carry on trusting God will give the opportunities or close doors as appropriate to guide me to my goals, but also the focus on doing my part as best I can. Leaving the outcomes up to Him, as God knows best.
    In this I find I relate more to the poets Rabia and Rumi in their understanding of God. Who is the source and destination of everything.
    Perhaps other Muslims will label me reformist or feminist or deviant. Some will think I’m of the sufi sect. Some will say I practice too much and others, too little. History of my life, never fitting in. But I find I fit in with the One God just right.

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  • Excellent Post. I don’t identify with any organized religion. I believe in something greater than we can currently understand and that we each contain a piece of it (soul) but I do not believe in a God sitting somewhere watching us. The universe it much too vast for that. I was raised Catholic and denounced it by the time I was 15. It made absolutely no sense and the hypocrisy was mind boggling and soul crushing. Going to Catholic school just drove the point home. It answers nothing and I don’t believe that the Bible is anything more than parables meant to illustrate and everything has a light and dark side and it’s what you choose and how you act that makes the difference. I believe in treating all life forms with respect and I’ve seen more harm done than good in the name or organized religion. It never felt good to me; it always felt forced and full of doom and gloom. The things that feel the best have sprinklings of Shamanism and Paganism because they work with the each other and the planet and there is no convoluted hierarchy of worthiness with appears to be rampant in the current state of the world. We all put our pants on the same way no matter where we’re from or what color we are and if a religion tells you otherwise, that’s a dictatorship, not a faith instilling edict.

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    • I’ve talked with quite a few people who went to Catholic school and say that’s what drove them away from organized religion. Hypocrisy is such a huge turn-off in any setting. Thanks for sharing your story 🙂

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  • INFJ – Raised a Jehovah’s Witness. Refused to get baptized at 10 because it didn’t ‘sit well’ with my moral compass. Firmly left at 15. I hate the idea of organized religion, but love the idea of a higher power or circle of energy. I have read and studied most major religion’s texts, just because I like knowing what others believe. I probably consider myself agnostic, yet very spiritual. Love the article!

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  • At a certain point in time, I tried to believe in god the way religion seemed to teach. I could not find what I was looking for, so I stopped believing and became an atheist (though still performing traditions as required). Then i chose a path which led me to spirituality. I now appreciate the good found in religion, I remain open to learn new beautiful things that religion could teach. I still follow traditions. Btw I come from a hindu family even though what I wanna say is that I am human.

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  • Infj’s are supposed to be have great instincts, be able to read people and just know deep within what others cannot see about themselves. A true infj can see through the b.s.,. Can see to the core of each individual and know what makes them tick. An infj has mercy and compassion. Strong convictions in their beliefs.
    Strong desire to change the world for the better.
    I know this because I am an infj. I’d NEVER leave a church based on the sins of another person.
    #1 I’m no saint myself and hope for forgiveness to be extended to myself
    #2 we are all in the same boat
    #3 every set church, just like every job wI’ll have flawed human beings, the problems and issues will be the same, just different people.
    Knowing this I question how many are true Infj

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    • As I touched on in the post, I agree with you that we can’t blame God for what other people do and that we should extend forgiveness like we hope to receive ourselves. But I also know the struggle of dealing with hypocrisy and I’ve been tempted to walk away from “religion” if not from relationship with God. Even supposing all INFJs will be able to “see through the b.s.” that’s no guarantee we’ll all respond to it the same way. The fact that you as an INFJ wouldn’t leave a church because of another’s sin doesn’t make someone who would a different personality type.

      Though people with the same personality type do have many commonalities in how we process information, make judgements, etc., we’re still individuals. Exactly how an INFJ personality shows up will be influenced by background, maturity level, and a host of other things. That’s why I hesitate to do things like “question how many are true INFJ” (or any other type) when they don’t line up with stereotypes or my personal experience.

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  • I am an INFJ too. Thank you for your post.
    I walked away from christianity as a teen, my grandparents were clergy, but also very toxic, judgemental people at their worst. The hypocrisy. Stephen Fry frequently comments on something I feel, which is that the suffering of the earth isnt really justifiable, and do I want to worship a god that created that? People are so often victims to circumstance, trauma, etc.. which bends all the good in them into something else, I dont believe they really deserve damnation on top of being alive – and being human which is hard enough most of the time. I would have arguments with my grandparents over the souls of those born ‘without god’, or who commit suicide, love differently or born into another religion, that they would deem are destined for hell. I couldnt stand this, so I closed the door entirely.
    I studied psychology and pursued almost every religion. Wicca, buddhism, new age spiritualism, atheism/agnosticism/no religion. I found truth in all of these perspectives. But christianity lifts me up like no other. I feel now, I can approach it more maturely, with my own values intact – and not let other peoples skewed interpretations determine my beliefs.
    As a vegan, I get frustrated with the evangelical extremist (and psychotic) vegans that give it a bad name (and although they have compassion for animals, cannot extend any to other people outside of their beliefs). I would be missing out on a beautiful opportunity to live out my values if I let those people determine what veganism meant. So it has to be true for christianity too. Its still tentative for me, but I am re-approaching it (christianity) without compromising my integrity, seeing how things go.

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  • I am a Christian INFJ. I love Jesus and Christians and everyone for that matter. I have had difficulty throughout the years consistently attending church for an extended time for the same reason I have difficulty with other organizations including the corporate sector. My expectations conflict with reality. In all fairness they may not always be realistic as I tend to be an idealist who strives for integrity, consistency, accuracy, justice, mercy, etc… even from myself. That’s good, however nobody is perfect. My point is when I am at church or corporate and what I experience doesn’t match my internal expectations I become very frustrated and it’s extremely difficult for me to tolerate the dissonance. I feel compelled to voice or express my concern and or objections so to speak or else I feel miserable and like a hypocrite. Having said that I love the church and people and I understand that I too am flawed. It’s complicated.

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  • I responded earlier about my conflicted feelings regarding church and the corporate arena. I want to clarify if possible my heart in the matter. I have been to several churches, and since they are filled with humans who have issues like my own none of them have nor ever will be perfect. In church I have met my closest friend of over thirty years and the strongest most caring support system one could ask for. I’ve been blessed and fortunate to know and be known by compassionate, strong and loving people who give so much of themselves for others. Likewise I have worked at jobs with phenomenal co-workers and supervisors that have upheld high standards and who have stood by and with me shoulder to shoulder. There are amazing people in this world. So when I say that I’ve left some churches or become frustrated in the corporate arena it isn’t because of the false belief that only I or people like me are the bastions of Justice and all that is right with the world. No, rather it is because in those moments and in those particular situations I felt there was no other recourse than to separate. Typically that separation is my last resort because I prefer unity. When I said I love Jesus I mean it. It is not possible to love God without loving people. The church is the body of Christ. So, I can’t love Jesus but hate Christians. Likewise we were all created in God’s image so how can I say I hate anyone created in God’s image whether or not they are Christian and still claim to love God? So, my spirituality is only as authentic as my love for others. God is love. I am referring to The God of The Bible ~Best

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    • I love this comment, partly because I agree 100% with what you said and partly because I identify so much with the need to come back and clarify what you wrote a few days ago. There have been so many times I’ve wanted to do that in in-person conversations as well as in writing, since all my thoughts on a given subject aren’t necessarily available at once. Guess it’s an INFJ thing 🙂

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  • This has been a big struggle for me. I am Lutheran, baptized &raised. Years ago I ran the church daycare and then had an opportunity to move and launch an even bigger daycare through another. It was there that I felt skeptical and even the hypocrisy about the pastor and certain members who were also on the board. This feeling was finally enough and I walked away (door slam you could say). It was so difficult that I even had a hard time going back to my family church for holidays.

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  • Thank you for this. I identify as spiritual AND I’m a minister of New Thought (we teach all faiths as partial truths, and support people exploring). How’s that for doing it my own way 😁 ?
    What you said about the door slam applying to more than people is what caught my eye though. Years ago I stopped dating and I’ve been trying to start again ever since. I never thought of it as a door slam on romantic relationships but it makes sense. Thanks!

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  • Christian INFJ. Born in Christian family and still growing in Christian youth community. It doesn’t feel right when I don’t make myself closer to Him. There were some points in my life I want to leave or move to another Church, but a note to what makes me stay is, I don’t look up to the people but to God. Coz duh, human can be disappointing anytime. As you said above, spirituality cores as my identity. Thanks for the thread!

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  • An interesting survey was done at a Retreat for Christian Artists/Authors/Musicians. 74 responded to a survey about their MBTI. 38% self-identified as INFJs!! From the respondents, 79% were I’s, 85% were N’s, 79% were F’s, and 64% were J’s. INFJ’s might be rare in the overall population, but they aren’t hard to find among Christian Creatives!

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  • Whoooww, this fits right in and hits the innercore for sure. As a fellow INFJ I WAS a athiest. I grew up in a non religious family. My father was the rather logical/rational type, and my mom was the spiritual type. I grew up balancing both of these so called “life styles”, as I grew older I always searched for something, meaning, mostly a meaning in life without getting the feeling that I will be betrayed or will be deceived. First thing I got up with was Wicca, but because of the fact that I as and INFJ, don’t take anything just for the sake of believing what others tell me to, I stopped practicing this. It confused me, drove me crazy most of the time because it didn’t make sense anymore. It didn’t felt safe enough. Not for me and not for the people around me. Then I got to buddism, and bumped up at the same thing. I just live through a few of their believes and since it didn’t fit me. I gave up on it too. For a while I did go allong with the studies my mom had. Meditation, reincarnation, the non-judging way how she saw the world and above all, the peaceful way she sees the world without being religious and anti-religion. But, my mom grew into her hate towards religion as the rumors about terrism grew too. I saw what happened within this spiritual group and find it hard to deal with this…. hypocrisy (sorry for my english btw), you, we should love all man kind, as an INFJ I hate all man kind but also love them. Specialy while grewing up in this community where my mom grew up in. Anyway, because of some major events dealing with the negative side of the paranomal events I wanted to quit this connection I had with the spiritual community (the so called door slam). Right now I am focussing my energy on Islam. And it makes more sense to me, and for me because the most of this religious believe fitted right in how I see the world and how I feel how it works. The thing is, I can’t clearly explain in a short story how it all fits in. But on the other hand, I don’t take anything for what it is. Like, I can’t seem to just take things as they are written.
    (By lack of finding meaning in words)
    Like historical evens? The tails of moses, jesus etc. I always seem to keep in mind that we are dealing with different times, different kind of people that I always seem to have a very open mind. That there are so many options and the only thing a INFJ cares about is treating people equally. I hate it when other people think ans talk like they are better then everyone else, no. Every religion is good, every person carries something good within themselves etc.
    I hope this made sense.. my hardest thing to do lately is translating what I feel into words someone understands.

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  • Hello everyone I’m an infj age 27. I must say I find it extremely disturbing that most of you all like to think that there isn’t a god! With most of you all saying that you used to go to church and don’t go anymore that you don’t believe in it anymore.

    If you’re infj like me then you have made that you serious miscalculation. I’m going to go ahead and call it right now that most likely none of you I have gone out and looked for or researched any of the secret books of the Bible or Lost Books of the Bible. Because there’s probably about a hundred different books that were not thrown into the New Testament because the ones who wrote it said that they weren’t inspired by the story that it gave. And that’s exactly why it seems there’s missing pieces in the Bible for where the story is jump from place to place. You’re trying to make sense out of a book that’s only half finished. Which 99.9% of people who say they have are full of s***!

    You people might want to try reading The Book of Enoch and a few others before you just say that there isn’t a God. Also the Dead Sea Scrolls that are predated to that exact time and follow the books that we have word by word with the Book of Enoch. the Shroud of Turin that has blood on it with no Y chromosome indicating virgin birth that’s hundreds of years old, when genetics have only been around for the last 60 to 70 years if that.

    You people might want to go back and rethink your calculations!

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  • Hi Marissa! I am an INFJ (that I found out on a mission trip…with a lot of of INFJ’s, crazy right?) and I just want to say that you are not alone. I am convert Catholic, wasn’t raised really with any practical values of religion, but as I live in the south- Catholicism is popular. So my first semester of college triggered my spiritual relationship with God- especially since we have a Catholic church right on campus- and let me tell you the church and student center are absolutely amazing. However after making so many nondenominational friends, they tend to keep bringing up the church, the faults, the corruptness, the history of it. And I am currently going through on whether I should think the same way, what Jesus wants, what other people expect me to think of the church. However, as an INFJ, I long to have a purpose, and when I find that purpose, removing it out of my life would be like you said- removing my identity. Leaving the church would break my heart and soul, I know all I need is a relationship with Christ to be fulfilled, but I am in-love with the bride of Jesus- all of the sacraments I hold dear to my heart and without it, I have no explanation to why I’ve come this far. But I am now realizing that I have to stick to what my heart wants, what I want, and stop trying to please others. Thank you so much for this post. Bless your heart!

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    • Thanks, Teri 🙂 I’m so glad you liked my post and that you’re finding fulfillment in your relationship with Jesus. It’s such a powerful blessing to have a purpose in life

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  • Hello INFJ group. My name is Dell and I am amongst the rarest of rare breeds. I am a married INFJ male, US Army Soldier, and I believe in Christ! My relationship to the “Christ” is deep seeded within in me, though I question my devotion from time-to-time, I never question His devotion to me. My personality type drives me to question for knowledge and growth. I am always asking the question “why?”

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  • Hello Marissa,
    Just came across this in a google search and I really enjoyed the article. As others have said, it’s a breath of fresh air to hear from INFJs who identify as Christian. I am a male INFJ, and I’m an associate pastor in a Baptist congregation. In fact, in October of next year, my pastor will be retiring, and I will be taking over, Lord willing. It’s been a long journey with lots of insane twists and turns, and I’m sure that will only increase as my responsibilities as pastor increase, but I’m extremely excited about it. Of course, my biggest struggle is socializing and also making sure to project when I preach. But thankfully, our congregation is very patient with me, and graciously overlooks my faults. I would also mention that our church is what you might call “Calvinistic” or “Sovereign Grace” Baptists, meaning that we ascribe the whole of salvation and glory to God, through the merits of Christ. We have been accused of being both “Arminians” as well as “HyperCalvinists”, among other things. And we do have our fair share of critics, but I’m very confident that the Lord is in sovereign control. If you would like to hear a sermon by a “Calvinistic, Sovereign Grace Baptist” INFJ, here’s a link: http://rescuebaptistchurch.com/2016-winter-conference.html — click on “Good News For Great Sinners”, by Michael Smith

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  • I came across your blog today and this is the only post I’ve read so far.
    Thank you for sharing your insight. Much of it resonated with me and I am looking forward to reading more of your posts.

    Sorry for this long post but I am so excited after reading yours. I am writing this mostly for me. Therapy for my soul.

    I have only very recently been identified as INFJ and it has been a wild few days for me, getting my arms around this. I’ve already had several “aha” moments of enlightenment, one while reading your post. I see now some of my INFJ bents related to religion:

    Raised in an Episcopal Church and born-again through Campus Crusade for Christ in college, I became an ardent fundamentalist believer and continued growing unwavered in my faith for many years. I can see now how this gave me a good INFJ pattern for understanding how the world works and how I fit in. Looking back I can see it was such a good fit for me. [I still believe that the Bible has some good insight into how people work.]

    I suddenly became an ex-fundamentalist (as you said kind of an INFJ door slam) that started as a research project to deepen my understanding of the Bible and my faith [this was a regular practice of mine]. One Christmas vacation I chose what I thought would be a simple project: how do dinosaurs fit into the Bible. I expected it to be something simple like “Genesis hints at it in this verse” and God chose not to reveal any more and be done.

    But it opened a can of worms in that it lead to other deeper questions including how old is the earth. Unfortunately my faith in the reliability and truthfulness (strict interpretation of God breathed) of the Bible became my downfall. For me this project did not resolve easily. I researched obsessively for several weeks and had, what I see now as an INFJ aha moment, when enough of the details fell together into a pattern of what you called INFJ need for authenticity: “Oh no. I think I may have been tricked”.

    My disappointment was not in God but in men who, suddenly discovered my me, may be misrepresenting God. I was totally devastated and spent probably another year searching for a flaw in my understanding. I found no flaw but many more details that fit the aha pattern.

    Since then, I’ve had a struggle figuring out ME and how I fit in the world. I feel I have a good handle on the world part and how it works but not yet on ME. I think I have been gathering details and trying to find a pattern. I have recently thought perhaps I have been ADD in that my mind is so active, jumping around so much with trouble being distracted.

    I’ve also spotted some disturbing codependent tendencies (people pleasing, caring more about others than myself, knowing others feelings better than mine, trouble saying no, etc). What I see now as perhaps INFJ patterns.

    Then, just days ago, my daughter took a MBTI test and prodded me to. I came back INFJ and I dug into it just enough to see that many people are mistaken & I may be also. So I dug a lot deeper and have convinced myself it was true, I am very likely INFJ. Also my daughter knows me pretty well and took the test for me and came back INFJ.

    So I’ve started digging some more and seeing myself so much in INFJ. Reading your post above was such an enlightenment for me. I feel so satisfied about that and wanted to thank you for writing.

    I have, in the past, considered trying to convert others away from fundamentalism because I have an urge to do good to them by enlightening them about the truth and I also desperately want others to understand me [I live in Bible belt Oklahoma where few would understand why I now “hate God”]. So I mostly keep it to myself, except a few trusted friends. I know, for myself, that I miss the sureness and comfort of my old faith and that I may be doing harm to them in that, in this case, ignorance may be bliss.

    I can see all of this now as an INFJ struggle and also that any conversion attempts would likely fall flat because most others will not think like me. But, for me, once having my eyes opened, I can never go back, no matter what I want (like Neo in the Matrix). Frustrating.

    So your post has been another step in my INFJ enlightenment. I am almost tingling with excitement to be on the verge of finally understanding myself more clearly.

    I wish you the best.

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    • It is upsetting when people misrepresent God — we INFJs hate being lied to anyways, and on top of that you have the frustration of seeing someon trying to control other’s relationship with God (at least I find that really frustrating). Anyway, I’m so glad you liked this post 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

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