Elizabeth Drescher has a thoughtful piece on resisting the impulse to pigeonhole the “nones.” Some may be spiritual but not religious, some may be unbelievers, but it’s important to keep in mind the results of the Pew survey:
- 68% of the Unaffiliated in general believe in God or a Universal Spirit
- Among those who self-identify as Atheist/Agnostic, 38% say they believe in God or a Universal Spirit
- Among those who self-identified as “Nothing in Particular”—the majority of Nones (71%) in general—some 81% say they believe in God or a Universal Spirit
Survey says: Nones are by and large not unbelievers. Not atheists. Not secular humanists. Not anti-religious.
Apparently the growth in the religiously-unaffiliated slowed in 2012, increasing by only .3 percentage points.
Faith beyond Belief: Stories of good people who have left their church behind by Margaret Placentra Johnson shares the stories of people of faith who have abandoned institutional religion. Her book puts faces on some of those included among the “nones.” Some may be “spiritual but not religious” but there are also atheists, mystics, and people who continue religious practice (prayer, for example) outside the confines of institutional religion.
But the SBNR’s may have more mental problems than the religiously affiliated, according to a study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.
Mark Vernon has a thoughtful take on the study’s significance:
In Britain, though, it appears that many individuals view religion as an impingement upon their spiritual searching. Christianity, say, is felt to constrain life – perhaps because of the negative attitudes it projects about gay people and women; or because it presents belief as more important than growth; or because it looks more interested in sin than enlightenment. If that is so, the new research is a striking indictment of the failure of British churches to meet spiritual needs
Finally, the research challenges the stance of those who are spiritual but not religious. It might be called the individualism delusion, the conviction that I can “do God” on my own. And yet, as the psychotherapist Donald Winnicott argued, human beings need to work through traditions to resource their personal creativity. Only in the lives of others can we make something rich of our own life
Tripp Hudgins says he’s a Christian because he is “spiritual-but-not-religious:”
Religions are simply scaffolding for revelation…which is the principal goal of any spiritual practice. Religions are collections of spiritual practices. That’s all they are. Mine is Christianity. I’m Christian because I am spiritual-but-not-religious. I am Christian because Jesus said, “The sabbath is for humanity and not humanity for the sabbath.”
Jesus honored the so-called spiritual-but-not-religious. He lauded the seeker.
The others had him killed.
Then he came back and said, “Come. Follow me.”
How could I not?