Meet the &quotSpiritual but Not Religious&quot – Barna Group

“I’m spiritual, but not religious.” You’ve heard it before – maybe even said it. But what does it actually mean? Can you be one without the other? Once synonymous, “religious” and “spiritual” now describe seemingly separate (but sometimes overlapping) areas of human activity. For many, the twin cultural trends of deinstitutionalization and individualism have shifted spiritual practice away from the public rituals of institutional Christianity toward the private experience of God within. In this conclusion of a two-part series on faith outside the church (read the first part on those who “love Jesus but don’t love the church”), Barna takes a close look at that segment of the American population who is “spiritually, but not religious.” Who are you? What do you believe? How do you live out your spirituality on a daily basis?

Two types of irreligious spirituality To provide a sense of spirituality outside the context of institutional religion Barna has created two key groups that fit their description ‘spiritual but not religious’ (SBNR) The first group (SBNR #1) are those who consider themselves ‘spiritual’ but say that their religious belief is not very important in their lives Although some self-identify as members of a religious belief (22% Christian, 15% Catholic, 2% Jewish, 2% Buddhist, 1% other faiths), they are in many irreligious in some ways – especially if we take a closer look at their religious practices. For example, 93 percent have not attended a church service in the past six months. This definition accounts for the unreliability of affiliation as a measure of religiosity.

A substantial majority of SBNR Group #1 do not identify with any religious belief at all (6% are atheists, 20% are agnostics, and 33% do not tied together). To get a better sense of whether or not a belief (even if not religious) might affect people’s beliefs and practices, we created a second group of “spiritual but not religious” that applies only to those who do not claim no belief at all (SBNR #2). This group still says they are “spiritual,” but they identify as either atheists (12%), agnostics (30%), or unattached (58%). For perspective, of those who claim to have “no faith,” about a third say they are “spiritual” (34%). This is a stricter definition of “spiritual but not religious,” but as we’ll see, both groups share key qualities and reflect similar trends despite representing two different types of American adults — one more religiously educated than the other. In other words, identification with a religion does not appear to affect the practices and beliefs of these groups. Even if you still adhere to a religion, once you have discarded it as a central tenet of your life, it seems to have little bearing on your spiritual practices.

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These two groups differ significantly from the “Love Jesus but not the Church”. Ways. Those whom Barna defined as loving Jesus but not the Church still identify strongly with their faith (they say their religious faith is “very important in my life today”), they just don’t go to church . This group still has very orthodox Christian views of God and retains many of the Christian practices (albeit individual versus corporate). As we will see below, the “spiritual but non-religious” have much looser ideas about God, spiritual practices and religion.

The spiritual but non-religious have much looser ideas about God, spiritual practices and religion. Click To Tweet

Demographic Trends: Southwestern and LiberalThese two groups equally make up about 8 percent of the population (11 percent of the population combined – as there is some overlap between the two). In terms of demographics, there aren’t many surprises here. The groups include more women than men – who generally identify more with religion and spirituality than men – and are concentrated in the West Coast and South. The former is probably the result of the influence of Eastern religions and the latter a result of general religious leanings. They’re mostly Boomers and Gen-Xers, although the first group is a bit older and because fewer young people tend to subscribe to a religion, the second group is a bit younger.

But their political leanings are where It’s long Interesting: Both groups describe themselves as liberal (50% and 54%) or moderate (33% and 35%), only a fraction as conservative (17% and 11%). Yes, conservatism and religiosity go hand in hand, but this divide is unusually wide. It may be that left-leaning spiritual seekers feel they have no spiritual home in the church, a place they are likely to find hostile to their political affiliations, particularly on sensitive — and often divisive — issues like abortion and same-sex marriage Before.

spiritual but not religious 1

Redefinition of “God” As one might expect – and in stark contrast to “Love Jesus, but not them Church” crowd – both “spiritual but non-religious” groups have unorthodox views of God or deviate from traditional viewpoints. For example, they are just as likely to believe that God represents a state of higher consciousness that a person can attain (32% and 22%) believe that an omnipotent, omniscient, perfect creator of the universe rules the world today (20% and 30%) Only one in ten (12%) American adults believe the former, and nearly six in 10 (57%) believe to the latter. These views certainly fall outside the norm. The trend continues: They are just as likely to be polytheistic (51% and 52%) as they are monotheistic (both groups: 48% each), and significantly fewer agree that God everywhere is (41% and 42%) in comparison h to practicing Christians (92%) or Evangelicals (98%). ory here. That feels expected. Sure, their God is abstract rather than embodied, engaging the mind rather than heaven and earth. But what is remarkable is that what counts as “God” for the spiritual but not the religious is disputed among them, and that’s probably just how they like it. Appreciating the freedom to define one’s spirituality characterizes this segment.

spiritual but not religious

What counts as “God” for the spiritual but not religious is a matter of debate. Click To Tweet

Ambivalent Views About Religion By definition, the “spiritual but non-religious” are religiously averse, and the data bears this out in many ways. First, both groups are somewhat divided about the value of religion in general, holding ambivalent views (54% and 46% disagree and 45% and 53% agree), especially when compared to religious groups (i.e. practicing Christians: 85% agree). not to and evangelicals). : 98% disagree). So why the ambivalence? It’s one thing not to be inclined, but it’s another to claim damage. The broader cultural resistance to institutions is a reaction to the view that they are oppressive, particularly in their attempts to define reality. The search for autonomy from this kind of religious authority seems to be the central task of the “spiritual but not religious” and very likely the reason for their religious distrust.

spiritual but not religious

Secondly, as functional outsiders, their view of religious specifics is much looser than their religious counterparts. A majority of both groups (65% and 73%) believe that all religions teach essentially the same thing, especially when compared to evangelicals (1%) and practicing Christians (32%). Again, the “spiritual but not religious” Shirk definition. The boundary markers aren’t there, and that’s the point. To them there is truth in all religions and they refuse to believe that any single religion has a monopoly on ultimate reality.

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The Landscape of Giving

Spirituality that looks inward As we have seen, to be religious is to be institutional – it means to practice his spirituality in accordance with an external authority. But to be spiritual but not religious is to have a deeply personal and private spirituality. Religions point outward to a higher power for wisdom and guidance, while a spirituality separate from religion looks inward. Only a fraction of the two spiritual but non-religious groups (9% and 7%) often talk about spiritual matters with their friends. Almost half (48% each) say they rarely do so, and are 12 (24%) to 8 (17%) more likely than practicing Christians and evangelicals never to discuss spiritual matters with their friends ( 2% each). .

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The Great Disconnect

Spiritually nourished by their own – and outside Like the “I Love Jesus But Not The Church” group, the “Spiritual But Not Religious” act out their spirituality in the absence of the institutional church. But they still engage in a number of spiritual practices, albeit a mishmash of them.Unsurprisingly, they are very unlikely to participate in the most religious practices such as reading scriptures (4% and 10%), prayer (21% and 22%) and even groups or retreats (3% and 2%), especially in comparison to the other religious communities. Their spiritual nourishment is found in more informal practices such as yoga (15% and 22%), meditation (26% and 34%), and stillness and/or solitude (26% and 32%). But their most common spiritual practice is spending time in nature to reflect (40% and 51%). And why not, considering how much personal autonomy you’ve gained from being outside. Overall, it is easy to understand why this group, which seeks to make sense of their lives and the world outside of religious categories, tends towards more informal and individual forms of spiritual practice.

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What the research means “In the recent study of those who ‘love Jesus but not the Church’, we examined what religious belief looks like outside of institutional religion. In this study, we examine what spirituality looks like outside of religious belief,” said Roxanne Stone, Editor-in-Chief of Barna Group. “While this may seem like semantics or jargon, we found significant differences between these groups. The first is disappointed in the Church; the second is disillusioned with religion. The former still hold fast to the Christian faith, they just don’t find the church worthy of being part of that faith. The latter have primarily rejected religion, preferring instead to define their own boundaries for spirituality – often mixing beliefs and practices from a variety of religions and traditions.

“They represent an equal percentage of the population says Stone. “And from all appearances, both groups are growing. Those who love Jesus but do not love the Church are certainly more likely to be positive about the religion and would likely be more receptive to rejoining the Church. Nevertheless, spiritual leaders should not ignore this group of “spiritual but not religious”. They differ from their irreligious peers in their spiritual curiosity and openness. The majority of those who have rejected religious belief do not identify themselves as spiritual (65%), likewise two-thirds of those who have no faith at all do not identify themselves as spiritual. Those who do – this group of spiritual but non-religious – show an unusual tendency to think beyond the material and to experience the transcendent. Such a desire can open the door to deep, spiritual conversation and, in time, perhaps a willingness to hear about Christian spirituality. The focus of these conversations, however, must inevitably be different than that of those who love Jesus but not the church. The wounds and distrust of the Church will come from different sources – as will their understanding of spirituality. But both groups represent people outside the church who have an inner inclination towards the spiritual side of life.”

They differ from their irreligious peers in their spiritual curiosity and openness. Click To Tweet

Comment on this research and follow our work: Twitter: @davidkinnaman | @roxyleestone | @barnagroup Facebook: Barna Group

About the Research Interviews with US adults comprised 1281 web-based surveys conducted among a representative sample of adults over the age of 18 in each of the 50 United states. The survey was conducted in April and November 2016. The sampling error for this study is plus or minus 3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. Minimal statistical weighting was used to calibrate the sample to known population percentages related to demographic variables.

Millennials: Gen-Xers : Born between 1965 and 1983 Boomers: Born between 1946 and 1964 Elders: Born between 1945 and earlier

Practicing Christ n: Those who attend church at least once a month, who say their faith is very important in their life and identify themselves as Christians.

Evangelicals: meet nine specific theological criteria.They say they made “a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their lives today”; that their faith is very important in their lives today; believe that after they die they will go to heaven because they have confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior; firmly believe that they have a personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs about Christ with non-Christians; firmly believe Satan exists; firmly believe that eternal salvation is by grace, not works; strongly agree that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; affirm firmly that the Bible is accurate in all principles it teaches; and to describe God as the omniscient, omnipotent, perfect deity who created the universe and still rules it today. Classification as evangelical is not dependent on church attendance, denominational affiliation of the church attended, or self-identification. Respondents were not asked to identify themselves as “evangelical”.

Love Jesus but not the Church: Those who identify themselves as Christian and who strongly agree that their religious belief is very high are important in their lives but are “unchurched” (have attended church in the past but have not done so for the past six months or more). Spiritual but Not Religious #1: Those who describe themselves as spiritual but say their beliefs are not very important in their lives. Spiritual but Not Religious #2: Those who identify themselves as spiritual but claim no belief (atheist, agnostic, or unaffiliated).

About Barna strong > Barna Research is a private, non-partisan, for-profit organization under the Issachar Companies umbrella. Based in Ventura, California, Barna Group has been conducting and analyzing primary research to understand cultural trends related to values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors since 1984.

© Barna Group, 2017


Content Creator Zaid Butt joined Silsala-e-Azeemia in 2004 as student of spirituality. Mr. Zahid Butt is an IT professional, his expertise include “Web/Graphic Designer, GUI, Visualizer and Web Developer” PH: +92-3217244554

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