Last time we discussed how the number of people who consider themselves Religiously Unaffiliated is on the rise…

religion chart


In their Religious and Ethics News Weekly PBS reported:  “46 million Americans that our poll found have no religious affiliation, almost one in five. But they’re not entirely secular. About a third describe themselves as ‘spiritual but not religious.’ ”  The article quoted Diana Butler Bass  (Author of  Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening): ” I think that the main problem that people identify with religion and religious institutions is hypocrisy, is that they look at these institutions and they see people who are more concerned about politics, more concerned about money, more concerned about their own power, and that’s just not what people expect out of a faith institution. They expect some level of authenticity, especially in the leadership. They would like religious institutions to practice what they preach.”


The scary part is not only is the number of religious unaffiliated is growing but young people are largest part of the group.


In another PBS article entitled None of the Above  “About one-third of all American adults under the age of 30 describe themselves as either atheists or agnostics or say they just don’t have any particular religion.”  In the article Bob Abernathy from the Pew Forum says: “Two-thirds of the unaffiliated say they believe in God, or a universal spirit. More than a third, 37 percent, call themselves spiritual but not religious. About one in five say they pray every day, and the same number say religion is at least somewhat important in their lives. With all that religiosity, then, why do 46 million Americans say they are unaffiliated with any religious organization?”


Some possible answers included in the article…


  • “Young people are becoming increasingly willing to tolerate people who are different. To tolerate different sexual orientation, different religion, different ethnic background, whatever. We don’t want to be told that we can’t accept gay marriage or that we can’t support birth control or abortion. You can still be moral and you can still be a good person without being religious.”
  •  “I don’t necessarily feel like I need to be guided through my relationship with, you know, the higher power or whatever you will call it. I feel like it’s a very personal relationship and I don’t necessarily need to be sitting in a church to experience that relationship. So that’s why I’ve never really been drawn to attending services regularly.”
  • “Many of the Nones say they want no part of the conservative politics some churches embrace. Others say society in general has become much more tolerant of non-believers, so it’s easier than it used to be for some people to acknowledge publicly what they have long been in private, to come out of the atheist or agnostic closet.”

So what do you think, do you need religion to be spiritual?