Spiritual but not religious Americans are finding new ways to search for meaning


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According to a recent report from the Pew CenterAmerican Christianity remains in an almost three-decade decline. Responding as “none” or “unaffiliated” to religious surveys, people increasingly identify as humanists, atheists, agnostics, or simply spiritual. If current trends continue, by 2070 Christianity may no longer be the dominant expression of American religion.

Like a scholar who studies alternative spirituality and new religious movements In the United States, I believe that the reality of America’s diverse religious and spiritual landscape is more complex than is often presented.

The no – or those who claim no particular religious affiliation – range from atheists to people seeking spiritual answers outside of traditional religious groups. This latter group generally identifies as spiritual but not religious – or SBNR. Dissatisfied with traditional religion, these individuals think of spirituality in a more secular way, as representing their search for meaning, healing, purpose and belonging.

The Many Expressions of Spirituality

In her study of several SBNR identitiestheologian Linda Mercadante found that the diversion of organized religion does not necessarily come at the expense of faith, ritual, or practice. For “post-Christianity” scholars, Mercadante points out how spiritual fulfillment shifts from “religious and civic institutions to ‘gathering places'”.

These “gathering places” vary widely.

Many turn to appropriate practices from different religious backgrounds. mindfulness and yogain particular, have become popular alternatives for seeking spiritual, psychological and physical healing.

These practices underscore the growing connection between spirituality and health. Dating in twelve steps for addiction recovery and contemporary medicinefor example, emphasize the need to balance mind and body for well-being.

Several non-religious practices create opportunities to explore spirituality beyond religious affiliation. People find a sense of belonging through the Internet and . Others turn to self-help literature or elements of popular culture.

Sports likewise provide an avenue for spiritual renewal. The rituals of training, competition and camaraderie reflect the spiritual quest for personal growth and localization of community. Digital communities and online options also offer new modes of spiritual practice and connection.

As a result, some scholars, such as the professor of religious studies Robert Fullerunderlined the “non-ecclesiastical” nature of the SBNR.

At the same time, the continued desire to find meaning and connection has led to the development of secular, spiritual, and atheistic churches. Although almost universally understood as physical spaces for religious practice, the rise of non-religious churches demonstrates the benefits and shared opportunities that many non and SBNR people associate with the experience of “going to .”

Atheist churches that include secular rituals have shown an increase.

Secular and atheist churches

Emerged in the last decade, and although still small-scale, centuries-old and atheist churches indicate how changes in religious affiliation do not necessarily involve a rejection of communal structures which provide avenues for spiritual rejuvenation.

The Seattle Atheist Churchfor example, positions as “a place where atheists come together” to address big questions and “to celebrate significant life events with atheist rituals”. Founded in 2015, the church offers weekly Sunday meetings for a few dozen attendees who share leading sermons related to their commitment to secular humanisma non-religious worldview that rejects belief in the supernatural.

In the same way, Detroit Sunday Assembly aims to “help everyone live their life as fully as possible”. One of 70 chapters in eight different countries, Sunday Assembly was founded by comedians Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans in 2013. Their motto was “Live Better, Help Often, Wonder More”.

Others find refuge in secularized churches that combine alternative rituals, such as cannabis use, with various humanistic, ethical and spiritual orientations.

Identifying themselves as elevationists, members of the International Church of Cannabis in Denver, Colorado, for example, come together through the ritual sharing of cannabis, or what they call “the sacred flower”.

This sharing, they say, helps them “reveal the best version of themselves.” It also helps to discover “a creative voice” which can help enrich the community “with the fruits of that creativity”. These “fruits” often manifest themselves in charitable projects, including street cleaning and an outreach initiative to feed and clothe Denver’s homeless population.

Such an approach does not deny members who might still hold religious beliefs, but diverts attention from the supernatural to self-improvement. Similarly, members of the non-denominational association First Church of Logic and Reason, based in Lansing, Michigan, elevates cannabis as a spiritual and therapeutic element. The church’s ritual use of cannabis offers a way to heal and find a sense of belonging for those who are disenchanted with mainstream religion.

Additionally, digital opportunities have become a vital site to cultivate spirituality.

Digital spirituality

For those who are disillusioned with traditional religion, digital technologies, applications and online options offer new avenues for engaging in secular and alternative forms of spiritual practice.

Current applications can calculate horoscope or provide online tarot readings. Social media platforms, in particular ICT Tac—do a host of New Age practices, including healing crystalImmediately available. Reiki find a robust community of virtual practitionersand mindfulness can be grown on a multitude of meditation apps.

Abandoning traditional religious affiliation does not simply mean that Americans reject religion. Rather, they explore an ever-changing spectrum of spirituality.

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Quote: Spiritual but Non-Religious Americans Find New Ways to Pursue Meaning (November 1, 2022) Retrieved November 1, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-11-spiritual-religious-americans-ways-pursuing. html

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