Sunday, July 03, 2016


Sunday Reflection: Spiritual but not Religious

Church-going Christians often chastise or make fun of those who say they are "Spiritual, but not religious," but I don't get the point of it. I am not among the ranks of people who describe themselves as spiritual but not religious (I am a church-goer who has no problem saying I am religious), but it seems like there is an openness and honesty in the "Spiritual but not religious" camp that I often admire.

Most of the people I run into who describe themselves that way have been actively driven away from the church by people I think of as "Devangelists"-- that is, those who feel it necessary to define people out of the faith, and hound them about their doubts or ideas that may not be orthodox.  They are the opposite of evangelists; they steer people away from church. Of late, devangelists have been far more successful than evangelists.

But, often, those attacked are driven from church, but not away from faith. Over and over, I have found people who were devangelized out of church, but still believe in God. They are spiritual, but not religious.

I wish that they would try a different church, one that would love them-- such places exist. But often they have been burned too badly and have lost their faith in church people. I understand that. Believe me, I have run into my fair share of devangelists myself, who are intent on convincing me that the heart of Christianity is, for example, the stigmatization of gay men and lesbians, or that "religious liberty" to do so must be a priority. It makes me not want to go to church.

At the moment, my belief in God is strong. My belief in church and institutional Christianity is weak, battered by disappointments.  I will not be among those chastising the "spiritual but not religious" crowd, because my heart lays close to theirs.

I think your post speaks more to those who might say, "I am religion-hearted/minded, but don't go to church," than those who say, "I am spiritual, but not religious." The few people I've encountered who've actually used the generic and hackneyed "spiritual, but not religious" line struck me as saying not much more than, "Sure, I believe God exists and dwell on that belief from time to time." That said, I can see how one might, by default, place those folks like you describe in your post into that "spiritual, but not religious" category. Though I'm not sure it's exactly how they'd want to be perceived.
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