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In Theory: 'Spiritual but not religious'

June 12, 2010

The "I'm spiritual but not religious" community is growing, according to a blog post by CNN writer John Blake. It is growing so much, the blogger writes, one pastor has compared it to a "movement." In a 2009 survey by the research firm LifeWay Christian Resources, 72% of people 18 to 29 consider themselves "more spiritual than religious." Some say the phrase hints at egotism: "If it's just you and God in your room, and a religious community makes no demands on you, why help the poor?" asks one Jesuit priest. What do you think? What exactly does being "spiritual but not religious" mean, and could there be hidden dangers in living such a life?

It's hard to strictly define this religious movement, but calling it a "buffet" of pop psychology, philosophy and various world religions would be a good start. Put what you want on your plate, leave what you don't. Essentially it's just another man-made religion whose only creeds are believe whatever you want and avoid accountability to others.

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The SBNR.org page on Facebook rehashes terms we've all heard before: "karma," "evolving your consciousness," "seekers," "free thought," "search for truth independently." The words "I" and "you" are used quite often; the word "God" is used less frequently. The movement is apparently a reaction against being "controlled" or "labeled" by others, and against the hypocrisy they've seen in "organized" religions. It's "not putting God in a box" or being put in one yourself. It's a blending of what people think are various truths from different faiths.

A possible strength of such an approach is not accepting something as truth just because someone tells you it is. The dangers of such thinking? First, there is no objective truth, if you're interested in such a thing. Don't look too hard for substance — it's simply not there.

Second, the opinion of man is elevated to deity — your decision is always right.

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