17 Comments

Thanks, this is interesting.

1. For what it's worth, in my specific context I've heard a few highly religious Evangelicals (including a pastor) describe themselves as "not very spiritual". What they mean by this is "not very attuned to Pentecostal-style spiritual warfare", i.e., not inclined to see angels and demons everywhere. Which often implies they were once surrounded by a religious context that WAS very spiritual in that sense.

2. A stereotype is that "spiritual, not religious" is a highly female-coded worldview, just as atheism is more male-coded. I wish that could have been tested here.

3. One thing that's surprising to me here is that these stats show that there are apparently a lot of weekly and weekly+ attenders (at least half of them) who say that their political views are not very shaped by their religion OR their spirituality. Perhaps this just illustrates that I live in a culture war bubble and most people, even the highly religious, are more politically focused on pragmatic "kitchen table issues".

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Very interesting. I just read an article by John Swinton and Stephen Pattison subtitled "towards a thin, vague, and useful understanding of spirituality in nursing care" that reflects on the utility of conceptualizing spirituality indirectly as an emergent idea that names absences and resistance. They feel it names an important experience in the way people relate to healthcare, even if it can't be associated with a cohesive set of practices and beliefs.

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It may not be available in the data, but knowing how this affects people's checkbooks would reveal something about actual (vs. stated) level of commitment.

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People who identified as more spiritual may have been more likely to say their views impacted their political activities than those who identified as religious because the example views they thought of were less counter-cultural. Someone who identifies as spiritual (with a more subjectively defined moral code) may be more likely to think of an impulse, such as concern for the downtrodden or oppressed, as an example of such a spiritual view, and they would sense societal support for promoting their views politically. Someone who identifies as religious (who may strive to adhere to an extant moral code) may have thought of abortion or other counter-cultural examples as a religiously-informed views. Believing, "You can't legislate morality," they may be less inclined to promote legislation to support those unpopular religious views.

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It’s probably statistical noise either way, but in my world there’s a clear divide between those who see eastern thought as a type of philosophy / spiritual way of living; and those who are just as confident that Buddhism, for example, is another dogmatic religion mushing along with all the rest.

I feel like it’d be interesting to see how that breaks along racial and economic lines. Perhaps it’s a cliche, but my experience is Sunday morning yoga where a nice white lady explains that my chakra is unbalanced and she balances her’s through spiritual journey yadda yadda. Then I leave and meet up with some software engineers on H1B1 visas who just got back from Buddhist temple

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Jan 28·edited Jan 28

Fascinating. But also, a bit disappointing in that what I would regard as the real "signal" here is hidden in the noise. Perhaps things "in the crosstabs" would be more illuminating:

People who say they are "spiritual but not religious" (and I am one) presumably know, each for oneself, what they mean. I personally know of no one who claims to be "religious but not spiritual". The overall tenor of the phrase "spiritual but not religious" seems to be something on the order of "...'Spirituality' is, OF COURSE, a part of almost everyone's concept of being 'religious'. I, however, reject one or more of the OTHER parts of what it means to be 'religious'" That is my sense of what I mean, and it my sense of what almost everyone else I've ever known, who has said that, was trying to communicate. Where people differ is in what each one regards as those "other parts", whether one rejects all of those, or only some, and, if the latter, which ones.

So I am not surprised that the upper left box in the second figure is SIXTEEN TIMES the size of the lower right. While it might be interesting to know about what the lower-right folks are thinking, they are numerically trivial, so much so that those respondents may merely have been confused by one or more of the questions in some way.

However, I would really like to know how the responses in the first figure break down JUST FOR THOSE IN THE UPPER LEFT box of the second figure. THAT would be how one might begin to get at what those who SAY they are "spiritual but not religious" think those two terms include, and which aspects of their sense of "religious" they reject.

Another issue, which I've alluded to above but not stated specifically, is that the premise behind this work seems to be that the terms "spiritual" and "religious" are, if you will, on the same "level", and the terms in the first figure are at another level, "feeding into" one's definition of each of the two. Again, I don't think many individuals see it that way. Also, as one of those who feel that "spiritual" is one aspect of "religious", I don't think the list of words surveyed make up a good list of "the other aspects". Some I would include. Some I would not. Some that I would include do not appear.

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What if “spirituality” has nothing to do with us? What if it MUST be received from a Deity who is not human? What if it is a gift and not an attainment?

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Interesting, but given our cultural acceptance that “religion and politics don’t mix”, combined with our general attitude towards “separation of church and state”, combined with the nature of the question you asked (a subject self-assessment), would it be a possibility that your conclusion:

“It just doesn’t feel like religion or spirituality are motivating folks to get engaged in the political process.”

might not be the only way to interpret the data?

What about: “It seems like neither religion or spirituality are perceived as desirable / socially acceptable motivations to get engaged in the political process.”?

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I don't think I do make that mistake....however, that's just my take on my actions/reactions.

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Dr. Burge,

I LOVED this posting...everything in it reaffirmed my growing belief that one does not need to be (and perhaps it's better off not to be) tied in some way to a religious practice to be a good and Godly person...as defined by Teresa of Avila.

If it's OK (and even possible), I'm going to copy this posting and share it with people I know who may/might/should be interested in seeing empirical evidence related to spirituality and religious practice.

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