I recently talked to some students about the term ‘Spiritual But Not Religious ‘ and my notes may, or may not, be of interest.. They are below. You may notice that I take a much more measured tone than in the book..
We began by wondering:
Who are the SBNR?
* We don’t wholly know.. But..
* New Age..
* Disillusioned with institutions
* Spiritual self-selecter
* Anxious Buddhists (for example)
Why claim to be SBNR?
* Rejection / discomfort with authority..
* Sense of something bigger, but a (postmodern) suspicion of ‘grand narratives’
* A Socio-cultural guess?
People wish to disassociate from the type of belief which is tainted by religious extremism and fundamentalism. Nonetheless, they want to identify not as a shallow egotist (with a mere mechanistic world-view) but as someone with depth and sensitivity.
Studies / evidence?
* Most important: http://www.pewforum.org/Unaffiliated/nones-on-the-rise.aspx
* What does Pew Forum report say on this?
* Well – they tweeted the detailed stats in a table :
* Also for some interesting analysis of this data see http://irritually.org/2012/10/11/belonging-to-a-religion-without-being-religious/
* So – of those who described themselves as SBNR – 39% also called themselves Protestant..
* See aforementioned analysis blog – but tells us that religious (or spiritual) identification is complex: people may feel affiliated with a tradition in some senses, but perhaps want to distance themselves from the ‘toxicity’ associated with being religious – in some ways..
* But then there was more – in January this year: we saw a rash of headlines:
* All based on this study:
* This study is based on interviews from a study:
* Dig into appendix d for the questions on religion, and things get much less clear..
* Surveys? I asked a psychologist who knows about these things to look at the data.. He blogs about ‘spiritual intelligence’, etc – http://jonathanschips.blogspot.co.uk/ so I knew he’d be interested..
The Actual Question:
By ‘religion’, we mean the actual practice of a faith, e.g. going to a temple, mosque, church or synagogue. Some people do not follow a religion but do have spiritual beliefs or experiences. Some people make sense of their lives without any religious or spiritual beliefs.
Would you say that you have a religious or a spiritual understanding of your life?
CODE ALL THAT APPLY
* SO: they can be Religious, Spiritual, Both, Neither.
* Seems fair – but: IF the person says only option 2: survey treats them as not religious. They haven’t said they are – but they haven’t said that they really aren’t either.
* This is not that big an issue in original study, but when new study then uses this data – correlates with mental health and religiosity: it sees that those who said option 2 (only) have higher incidence of issues.
* Then we get news stories.. But these people may well be religious, but identified as spiritual. They may have implied SBNR by answers : BUT they never actually identifed using the term ‘Spiritual But Not Religious’…
* As my psychologist friend put it: “Their responses have been framed by the questions asked, they have not chosen to self identify as spiritual but not religious.”
* The mental health stories generated huge comment: be it pagans insisting they were religious, people disputing the claims / inclusions – they were very active..
* The video had “Why I Love Jesus, but Hate Religion” has had 23 Million views – maybe, whatever we think of it, it may give us some clues: