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My Take: 'I'm spiritual but not religious' is a cop-out
The author notes that more and more young people are rejecting traditional religion and taking up a variety of spiritual practices.
September 29th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

My Take: 'I'm spiritual but not religious' is a cop-out

By Alan Miller, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Alan Miller is Director of The New York Salon and Co-Founder of London's Old Truman Brewery. He is speaking at The Battle of Ideas at London's Barbican in October.

By Alan Miller, Special to CNN

The increasingly common refrain that "I'm spiritual, but not religious," represents some of the most retrogressive aspects of contemporary society. The spiritual but not religious "movement" - an inappropriate term as that would suggest some collective, organizational aspect - highlights the implosion of belief that has struck at the heart of Western society.

Spiritual but not religious people are especially prevalent in the younger population in the United States, although a recent study has argued that it is not so much that people have stopped believing in God, but rather have drifted from formal institutions.

It seems that just being a part of a religious institution is nowadays associated negatively, with everything from the Religious Right to child abuse, back to the Crusades and of course with terrorism today.

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Those in the spiritual-but-not-religious camp are peddling the notion that by being independent - by choosing an "individual relationship" to some concept of "higher power", energy, oneness or something-or-other - they are in a deeper, more profound relationship than one that is coerced via a large institution like a church.

That attitude fits with the message we are receiving more and more that "feeling" something somehow is more pure and perhaps, more "true” than having to fit in with the doctrine, practices, rules and observations of a formal institution that are handed down to us.

The trouble is that “spiritual but not religious” offers no positive exposition or understanding or explanation of a body of belief or set of principles of any kind.

What is it, this "spiritual" identity as such? What is practiced? What is believed?

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

The accusation is often leveled that such questions betray a rigidity of outlook, all a tad doctrinaire and rather old-fashioned.

But when the contemporary fashion is for an abundance of relativist "truths" and what appears to be in the ascendancy is how one "feels" and even governments aim to have a "happiness agenda," desperate to fill a gap at the heart of civic society, then being old-fashioned may not be such a terrible accusation.

It is within the context of today's anti-big, anti-discipline, anti-challenging climate - in combination with a therapeutic turn in which everything can be resolved through addressing my inner existential being - that the spiritual but not religious outlook has flourished.

The boom in megachurches merely reflect this sidelining of serious religious study for networking, drop-in centers and positive feelings.

Those that identify themselves, in our multi-cultural, hyphenated-American world often go for a smorgasbord of pick-and-mix choices.

A bit of Yoga here, a Zen idea there, a quote from Taoism and a Kabbalah class, a bit of Sufism and maybe some Feing Shui but not generally a reading and appreciation of The Bhagavad Gita, the Karma Sutra or the Qur'an, let alone The Old or New Testament.

So what, one may ask?

Christianity has been interwoven and seminal in Western history and culture. As Harold Bloom pointed out in his book on the King James Bible, everything from the visual arts, to Bach and our canon of literature generally would not be possible without this enormously important work.

Indeed, it was through the desire to know and read the Bible that reading became a reality for the masses - an entirely radical moment that had enormous consequences for humanity.

Moreover, the spiritual but not religious reflect the "me" generation of self-obsessed, truth-is-whatever-you-feel-it-to-be thinking, where big, historic, demanding institutions that have expectations about behavior, attitudes and observance and rules are jettisoned yet nothing positive is put in replacement.

The idea of sin has always been accompanied by the sense of what one could do to improve oneself and impact the world.

Yet the spiritual-but-not-religious outlook sees the human as one that simply wants to experience "nice things" and "feel better." There is little of transformation here and nothing that points to any kind of project that can inspire or transform us.

At the heart of the spiritual but not religious attitude is an unwillingness to take a real position. Influenced by the contribution of modern science, there is a reluctance to advocate a literalist translation of the world.

But these people will not abandon their affiliation to the sense that there is "something out there," so they do not go along with a rationalist and materialistic explanation of the world, in which humans are responsible to themselves and one another for their actions - and for the future.

Theirs is a world of fence-sitting, not-knowingess, but not-trying-ness either. Take a stand, I say. Which one is it? A belief in God and Scripture or a commitment to the Enlightenment ideal of human-based knowledge, reason and action? Being spiritual but not religious avoids having to think too hard about having to decide.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Alan Miller.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: My Take • Opinion • Spirituality

soundoff (9,993 Responses)
  1. bigfoot

    All I can say is that organized religion brought all this on themselves. If the self-righteous hypocrites had stayed out of politics, not ignored science and kept their private parts out of little kids orifices, I might be one of them today.

    September 30, 2012 at 7:10 am |
    • John Falcone

      Yours is one of the most insightful statements in this discussion - and I'm including the original article.

      September 30, 2012 at 8:52 am |
    • T-Max73

      Well stated! Organized religions (and spiritually centered thinkers) have already assumed what has NOT been proven-that there is some God, god, or deity out there who cares about us and who has a plan for our lives. I think your comment cuts to the core of what is wrong with this thinking. Peace.

      September 30, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • hopefulrog

      Religion Is Man Made. I'm not religious, but Unlike the vast Majority of you I study the Bible. And no were in the Bible does The Most High give Man a Religion. Instead, he gave 10 laws to live By. The first four were to promote a Proper relationship with him and the other six is how to have a proper relationship with each other. then The Bible talks about a group of people who he made a promise with That was Based on those rules. It's a really great story if you ever decided to read it as it is, like you would any other book. don't add nothing to it or take anything away, Just read it. Religion is the Work of Satan and is Pagan because there customs are saturated in Old Pagan beliefs. In fact Christianity is just Pagans customs Mix in with ancient Hebrew Laws. And non believers Don't have no Merits to they're arguments because Like most Christians they don't read the Bible. And even an Artiest can get some good Info from the bible.

      September 30, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • billyk

      Perfectly stated!

      September 30, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • Brucknerian

      Bigfoot said so much more in one paragraph than all of the dizzy drivel in the entire article.

      September 30, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • JoswaR

      @hopefulrog I'm the exact same way, and totally agree religion is man made. So really once you take that away anyone who truly believes in anything is actually spiritual and not religious. I haven't been to church in years, but I pray to God every night.

      September 30, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • HumanistinCT

      So very well said Bigfoot. The mentality that one must agree with the rhetoric and never question goes against making yourself a better person

      September 30, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • Chris

      From Adam Man to Christ Man, the bible is a road map to the evolution of the soul. 1st John Chpt. 4: God is LOVE, and he who dwells in LOVE dwells in God, and God in Him.

      October 1, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • Messenger

      I agree with everyone bigfoot. You put it ALL so well in just a few simple sentences. SAINT BIGFOOT! Pray for us!

      October 1, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Nii

      hopefulrog
      u are absolutely right in most of your submission.

      October 10, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  2. cjkramer

    The article is not only lame, but also shows the author's and the aim of the 'religionists' to create and make people conform to their predefined structures. Afterall, the conservative, narrow-minded bishops, imams are better judge of how to define your moral behavior than a reasonable, logical thinking man/woman. CNN keep up the good work, please publish more of such idiotic articles and play down to the dumbing of American thought process!

    September 30, 2012 at 7:07 am |
    • Ed

      I agree this article is lame, but I think it actually has an underlying theme of getting people to turn atheist rather than towards structured religion. Either way, I say – let people be what they want to be and mind your own business.

      September 30, 2012 at 7:15 am |
  3. oh please

    there is NO SPIRIT
    There is NO GOD(s)

    Ya know why people dont pray to Zeus anymore-–cause they freaking WOKE UP!

    September 30, 2012 at 7:07 am |
    • nope

      @oh...
      nope

      September 30, 2012 at 7:09 am |
    • Brian

      I was going to make a similar comment. No spirits=no spirituality.

      September 30, 2012 at 7:15 am |
    • Nick Ricci

      Nobody wants to hear this, but the author is right. Simple minded atheists are going to flock to every article in the 'belief' section and try to peddle their monkey minded nothingness. Guess what. Atheists are nothing new. You've been around since before Jesus. No joke. Just 500 years ago Atheists were setting fire to churches, and killing priests, claiming allegiance to various hethan lords pagans or witches. Whatever . Setting fire they still wish they could do. And many 'Atheists' believe in 'vibes' and all kinds of pagan monkey business. Anyway, hate and violence is a disease. And the biggest atheists of the Modern era were some of the sickets. Pol Pot, banned religion. Killed 2 million in concentration camps. Mao tried to ban religion, Stalin tried to ban religion, Hitler etc. All started off as Religious people, who grew to hate religion, tried to ban it, and ultimately became mass murderers on the scale of millions – in Pol Pot and Hitlers case, killing especially those who opposed their brand of Atheist and in Hitler's case slightly mystic pagan 'beliefs'. So I don't want to hear about the crusades, where like 489 people were killed. Give it a rest pagans. Yours is the true evil, by count.

      Men of science are men of science. God and science are not mutually exclusive. Unless there is one among you that can cure cancer, or outlive the sun? Let's go ahead and keep science, science. And leave religion to the unknown.

      Of course, unless you are a monkey. Then by all means, believe in nothing but the dirt you eat.

      September 30, 2012 at 7:30 am |
    • Sara

      Nick Ricci, you make no sense. Pagans and atheists and two totally different things. Pagans believe in pagan gods. Atheists do not believe there are pagan gods, witches, or vibes. I don't know where you are getting your information. And about atheistic leaders who killed millions of people. Just like Christian leaders who killed lots of people, they didn't do it because they were atheist...oh wait, Christian leaders did do it because they were Christian. But it doesn't matter because power hunger sociopaths will kill and take power using any excuse, religion or not. I feel weird now agreeing with you that religion and science shouldn't be mixed because you got to the conclusion a totally different way than I did.

      September 30, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • TMV

      @Nick Ricci. You are clearly an idiot. Not only do you believe in fairy tales but you also do not know the definition of an Athiest.

      September 30, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • faustius

      @Nick Ricci, what in the world are you talking about?

      First off, as a high priest of a British Traditional coven, I can tell you with authority that it is impossible for a Heathen or Pagan to be an atheist, by definition. Further, 500 years ago was the height of the witch craze in Europe. The only things being burned weren't churches, but 50,000 to 70,000 innocent people, whose only crime was being accused of following the "wrong" faith.

      489 people were killed during the Crusades?! You are referring to the same continent spanning conflict persisting for two centuries right? Aside from being silly, it isn't really on topic. The Crusaders' adversaries were primarily Islamic, Judaic, and Christian. Aside from the Teutonic Knights destroying the last Pagan nation in Europe while wiping out Baltic Christians, neither atheists, nor Pagans were involved.

      Finally, Hitler was more Christian than Pagan, though he did borrow from both faiths while creating his strangely twisted world view.

      September 30, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • FreyaV

      Faustius, thank you for offering Nick a clue. Nick: I do hope you will pick it up and put it to use, because you haven't any.

      September 30, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • john

      a lot of people still pray to "old gods" actually.......especially Norse gods......do your research before sounding like an idiot

      September 30, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • Jean-Luc

      @Nick Ricci: You either the dumbest person on the planet or you are insane..either way seek help.

      September 30, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • charles_darwin

      To Rick Ricci
      Spoken like a true religious know it all holier than thou moron.
      Just helping the Athiest cause by posting crap like this.

      September 30, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • n0e11e

      wow. atheists and pagans are now the same thing. learn something new every day, i guess.

      October 1, 2012 at 2:08 am |
    • JUSTSAYIN

      So which God are you with the ability to discern the truth about the unknowable and unproveable? It must be wonderful to have absolute knowlege beyond that which can be proven empirically.

      October 3, 2012 at 9:03 am |
    • Mandy

      Actually, I think it's because they all died. ;)

      October 5, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • Mech

      @Nick Ricci

      As a historian, you make me absolutely sick. 489 people? Seriously? You do know that in one of the first battles of the Crusades, Dorylaeum, over 7,000 people were killed, Muslim and Christian alike. How about the Battle of The Horns of Hattin, where close to 20,000 lives were lost? And those are just two of the battles! I'm not even going into the various sieges, of Jerusalem and elsewhere. The likely body count of all 6 major Crusades counts in the millions, possibly the tens of millions.

      October 5, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  4. liz

    Not spiritual or religious just atheist.

    September 30, 2012 at 7:02 am |
    • nope

      @liz
      nope

      September 30, 2012 at 7:09 am |
    • Sara

      @nope, you can't tell liz she isn't an atheist. Cause she is even if you "nope" her. Weirdo.

      September 30, 2012 at 9:07 am |
  5. Simon

    "Being spiritual but not religious avoids having to think too hard about having to decide."

    Whereas being religious involves not having to think at all! Just do as you are told!

    September 30, 2012 at 6:49 am |
    • nope

      @simon
      nope

      September 30, 2012 at 6:53 am |
    • Vince

      yep!

      September 30, 2012 at 7:05 am |
    • Yep

      Yep

      September 30, 2012 at 7:08 am |
    • nope

      @vince
      nope

      September 30, 2012 at 7:09 am |
    • Marti

      Yep

      September 30, 2012 at 7:12 am |
    • Yep

      @nope; you must be from the Party of No

      September 30, 2012 at 7:14 am |
    • nope

      @yep...
      nope

      September 30, 2012 at 7:21 am |
    • FreyaV

      Depends on the religion. In mine (Unitarian Universalism), members are expected to engage with their own beliefs and those of extant religious and spiritual traditions, ideally developing a "questioning faith" - One based not on doctrine or creed but on deep, sustained inquiry.

      September 30, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • T-Max73

      And being neither "religious" nor "spiritual" means not having to decide anything until better evidence shows itself.

      September 30, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Nickel

      Well said Simon. Religion is man-made dog crap.... I mean dogma. Religion is for those afraid to think and question for themselves. The author assumes we SBNR folks are empty of morals. Quite the contrary, most SBNR folks I know are out in the community, helping one another, trying to make things better and living fullfilling lives. Ever tried getting out of a parking lot of a catholic church after sunday mass? It's definitely not an atmosphere of giving.

      September 30, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • vivian

      Nailed it!

      September 30, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  6. AvdBerg

    The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14).

    There is a natural body and a spiritual body (1 Cor. 15:44).

    For a better understanding of the above misleading and inane article we invite you to read the article ‘The Natural Body vs the Spiritual Body' listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    All of the other pages and articles listed on our website explain how and by whom this whole world has been deceived as confirmed in Revelation 12:9.
    Seek, and ye shall find (Matthew 7:7).

    September 30, 2012 at 6:15 am |
    • Rush

      SO? Just words written by some man (men). What of it?

      September 30, 2012 at 7:08 am |
    • nope

      @rush
      nope

      September 30, 2012 at 7:10 am |
    • TROLL ALERT

      This poster is a troll on this site, they are only here to sell their lying website to support their cult. Click the report abuse link to get rid of this TROLL!

      October 1, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  7. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    September 30, 2012 at 6:01 am |
    • appalled

      Atheism is the HEALTHIEST for children!! Soon the world would be wonderful!

      September 30, 2012 at 7:04 am |
    • Mike

      Too bad all children are born with no notion of "God", and are atheists until indoctrinated some time after acquiring language.

      September 30, 2012 at 7:08 am |
    • Yep

      Who are you to decide what is healthy for MY child?

      September 30, 2012 at 7:10 am |
    • truth be told

      Atheists have tortured and murdered more people in the last 100 years than were killed in all previous centuries. You all have a strange idea of what is healthy. Normal people do not equate murder and torture with health.

      September 30, 2012 at 7:12 am |
    • truth be told

      Atheists have tortured and murdered more people in the last 100 years than were killed in all previous centuries. You all have a strange idea of what is healthy. Normal people do not equate murder and torture with health !

      September 30, 2012 at 7:13 am |
    • just sayin

      All children are born direct from the throne of God with a deep inner knowledge of God. Life is the opportunity to choose God in love and so return to God and the wonderful eternity He has planned for them. Woe to that fool that would deny a child eternal life.

      September 30, 2012 at 7:16 am |
    • Mike

      All children are BORN atheists until they are indoctrinated with myths about Jesus, or Zeus or Mohammed. Religions wouldn't exist if they introduced these ridiculous ideas to rational adults rather than gullible children.

      September 30, 2012 at 7:17 am |
    • nope

      @mike
      nope

      September 30, 2012 at 7:22 am |
    • mfmaine

      I do believe that there is power in collective positive thought; if you want to call it prayer I'm cool with that

      September 30, 2012 at 7:31 am |
    • Sara

      Sociopathic people who may or may not have claimed to believe in n gods have tried to take power by any means using modern weapons to kill millions of people in the last 100 hundreds. If religion would have helped with that, they would have used it just like sociopaths did for thousands of years with primitive tools.

      September 30, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • God's PR Agent

      What's with all the people trying to poll history to see who's killed more people, or which viewpoint had the most nutcases? Take a long walk off a short pier! I'll believe what I believe and I'll build my belief from HONEST REFLECTION, not from some dim-witted association with choosing which philosophy has a better history, or is better for children. What's with the obsession with children anyways? Why are we so dedicated to lying to them and building some fluffy fabricated fairy-tale... just to make sure they're completely incapable of adjusting to reality once they hit the age that you knucklehead conservatives stop caring about them? Just be true to yourself... your kids will appreciate it.

      October 1, 2012 at 8:45 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!

      October 1, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Taz

      @Mike, and a couple others. One of the weirdest mysteries of life is the fact that children actually ARE born with an innate knowledge of God/afterlife/right and wrong/etc. I know it's weird, but it's really true. I mean when they start talking, they're not spouting scripture or asking their parents to take them to church, but there's something in there. It's not logical from a scientific perspective. There's an awareness of something they don't understand. Now, by the time they're 6 or 7, yes, they're buying into whatever faith or lack thereof surrounds them; whether that be Islam, Christianity, Atheism, we tend to go with the flow at that age. . . but it's there.

      October 1, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
  8. therealpeace2all

    Wow... too tired to tackle this mess of an article tonight.

    But, good grief on what he wrote ! 8O

    Peace...

    September 30, 2012 at 3:38 am |
    • midwest rail

      Indeed – it seems to be an intellectual hissy-fit, based solely on the notion that "if you reject my club, I'm mad at you" is an acceptable response. Unadulterated drivel.

      September 30, 2012 at 6:46 am |
    • nope

      @midwest...
      nope

      September 30, 2012 at 6:52 am |
    • midwest rail

      Mental hiccups hardly qualify as a response. Next.

      September 30, 2012 at 7:00 am |
    • Guest

      I agree. I didn't even read it because the first line gives away the flawed premise of this article: people who are "spiritual" are missing something by not subscribing to a particular brand of religion. As someone with some "sense" of God, but not the audacity to claim to know his intentions, "spiritual" suits me just fine. I don't sit around meditating all day like the guy in the picture. In fact, it's not all that important of a question to me. However, I'm 100% sure that every major religion is wrong. If god exists, he either thinks all these religions are really stupid, really funny, or he doesn't care. Either way, I'm not missing anything by not subscribing to any of these crazy belief systems.

      September 30, 2012 at 7:17 am |
  9. Inevitability

    The whole article is a straw man, right down to the doofy guy in the picture. Very lame.

    But who cares? This growing group sees religion for what it is, and is working away from it. And this fool is pushing them further away.

    The percentages of seculars and atheists doubles ever 15 years. The tend continues.

    September 30, 2012 at 3:21 am |
    • nope

      @inev...
      nope

      September 30, 2012 at 6:53 am |
    • T-Max73

      You're correct, and in a generation or two, religion will be on the periphery of insanity-reserved for those who need to be told WHAT to think and HOW to think. Peace.

      September 30, 2012 at 10:36 am |
  10. Best News

    There is only one real GOD,
    and His one true Religion
    supported by an absolutely matchless, Superb and Magnificent "Mathematical Evidence!"
    So it's time to be Spiritual, and yes, also rightfully Religious!

    http://www.holy-19-harvest.com
    UNIVERSAL MAGNIFICENT MIRACLES

    September 30, 2012 at 2:23 am |
    • appalled

      And then you fell out of bed!

      September 30, 2012 at 7:06 am |
    • FreyaV

      @appalled: ROFL!

      September 30, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • Eric

      When you can do that formula, we might listen.

      September 30, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • Sully

      PRAISE POSEIDON!

      October 1, 2012 at 4:08 am |
  11. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    You can find a description of the "I'm so spiritual" event here:
    http://nysalon.org/salonoverviews/archives/public-events/im-so-spiritual/#more-361

    Our friend Prof. Prothero gets a mention as well.

    ‘I’m not religious – I’m spiritual,’ is an increasingly common sentiment on both sides of the Atlantic. But what does it mean? Is self-styled ‘spirituality’ simply a different form of religion, or does it represent a fundamental departure, even a threat to traditional religion?

    Around 80 per cent of Americans identify with a religious denomination – overwhelmingly Christian – while 40 per cent say they attend weekly services and 58 per cent pray at least once a week. This high level of religious observance, symbolised by America’s bustling ‘megachurches’, is unique in the developed world. And from raging debates about creationism to political candidates proclaiming their religious convictions, religion seems to be at the centre of American life. Significantly, though, those under 30 are less religious than ever before. Moreover, professor of religion Stephen Prothero suggests there is enormous ‘religious illiteracy’ in the US, particularly among young people. So does the persistence of high-profile religiosity mask a more profound decline in religious faith? And how does the turn to the spiritual fit into the picture? In Britain, numbers attending church have been decreasing continually in the postwar period, but there too there still seems to be a desire to have some kind of ‘spiritual’ outlook – often involving a pick-and-mix approach to eastern religions as well as Christianity itself.

    Are authors like Sam Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens right to argue religious Americans have been duped somehow into adopting irrational beliefs? Or is it the New Atheists who are to be pitied for their lack of belief in anything beyond themselves? Some argue there is a psychological, biological and emotional drive to feel some kind of resonance with something like the divine. Some have even suggested environmentalism is a new form of secular religion, and psychotherapy is an attempt to handle sin and confession in a scientific way. Others see both the decline of religious faith and its apparent revival (in the form of Islam as well as some types of Christianity) as a reflection of broader ideological developments in recent history, in particular a loss of faith in human progress. So is the rise of ‘spiritual’ sentiment just another expression of our religious nature as human beings, or is it something new? And is it to be welcomed as life-affirming, or challenged as a new form of superst’tion

    September 30, 2012 at 1:39 am |
    • 24 Hour Crisis Center

      The good news is, those 30 somethings will become 40, then 50, etc.

      Religion is dying. I am almost 50 and I have fougnd religious people my age are either embarrased or defensive about religion. They don't have a leg to stand on and they know it.

      Yea.

      September 30, 2012 at 1:45 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      This looks like an interesting event for anyone in the New York City area on Monday night. (W. 13th St.)

      I wonder if Stephen Prothero will come down from Boston and we'll have another "My take" next week?

      The increase in non-traditional religiosity and atheism in millenials is pronounced.

      "Fully one-in-four adults under age 30 (25%) are unaffiliated, describing their religion as “atheist,” “agnostic” or “nothing
      in particular.” This compares with less than one-fifth of people in their 30s (19%), 15% of those in their 40s, 14% of those in their 50s and 10% or less among those 60 and older."

      http://www.pewforum.org/uploadedFiles/Topics/Demographics/Age/millennials-report.pdf

      September 30, 2012 at 1:55 am |
    • Maria Girkin

      Much better and thought provoking than the article above-

      September 30, 2012 at 7:19 am |
    • mfmaine

      The answer is 42

      September 30, 2012 at 7:38 am |
    • fibergirl

      I am not athiest, but I will love to see Bill Mauer come down to this event and make mincemeat out of them.

      September 30, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • JA897

      "Some argue there is a psychological, biological and emotional drive to feel some kind of resonance with something like the divine."

      Yes there is a psychological, biological and emotional drive to desire a super-parent.

      October 1, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  12. Rick

    The guy who wrote this runs a brewery, so why should his opinion about spirituality count?

    September 30, 2012 at 1:20 am |
    • 24 Hour Crisis Center

      I have found the almighty at the bottom of my beer many times.

      September 30, 2012 at 1:26 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Rick,

      it's an archtiectural redevelopment of a former brewery:
      http://www.trumanbrewery.com/

      The Old Truman Brewery, East London's revolutionary arts and media quarter, is home to a hive of creative businesses as well as exclusively independent shops, galleries, markets, bars and restaurants. For fifteen years the Old Truman Brewery has been regenerating its ten acres of vacant and derelict buildings into spectacular office, retail, leisure and event spaces. The finely tuned mix of business and leisure has created an environment unique in London, making the Old Truman Brewery a destination in its own right.

      September 30, 2012 at 1:29 am |
    • 24 Hour Crisis Center

      GOPer, I would like to buy you a cold one my friend. That place sounds great! Reminds a bit of Seattle.

      September 30, 2012 at 1:31 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @24HCC,

      I'd be delighted to buy the second round.

      September 30, 2012 at 1:57 am |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Rick

      " The guy who wrote this runs a brewery, so why should his opinion about spirituality count? "

      Are there special 'spirituality' credentials required for someone to have an *opinion* ?

      Peace...

      September 30, 2012 at 3:46 am |
    • FreyaV

      @24Hr and NotGOP: This sounds like a party worth attending! (lifting a glass in your direction from Frankfurt, Germany)

      September 30, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • JoswaR

      Benjamin Franklin "Beer is living proof that God loves us, and wants us to be happy"

      September 30, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • NoE

      Beer is proof that God loves us – Benjamin Franklin

      October 5, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
  13. Catopower

    This sounds like the rantings of someone who is afraid.

    My disconnection from any church is not my disconnection with God. It's my belief that God speaks to me through the divine spark that is my own. No church speaks for God, he does quite well without preachers and televangelists and their money. He does quite well without people who think they need to tell me what to believe, likely driven by the fears that are instilled in them by their churches and preachers and not by God, the fear that they will not be accepted by their church or by God.

    Religion is dogma, spirituality is communication.

    September 30, 2012 at 1:18 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Catopower,

      how do you define your God?

      September 30, 2012 at 1:20 am |
    • Cq

      Catopower
      You believe in a god, so it's still "religion" no matter how you slice it.

      September 30, 2012 at 1:23 am |
    • 24 Hour Crisis Center

      Catopower, you are so close to being enlightened. Keep on the track you are on. It is just a matter of time before you become an atheist. Good for you!

      We will all be here to embrace you and help you as needed.

      September 30, 2012 at 1:30 am |
    • Anan

      All,

      What is your hope for mankind? What treatment within mankind will bring forth that hope?

      I hope for harmony among us. One which reminds us of our bond to each other.

      September 30, 2012 at 2:23 am |
    • tagryn

      Spirituality in isolation from others is a sure path to self-deception, where God is exactly what you want her/him/it to be because there's no feedback and "God" is largely a product of one's own psychological needs. In a religious community, be it church or mosque or temple, there's others who can tell you when you're off the path and can provide guidance, and truths are put to the test of communication and debate.

      September 30, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • n0e11e

      @cato: very, very well said.

      October 1, 2012 at 2:13 am |
    • GigaHorse

      @tagryn:
      Or, alternately, formal religious settings are places where dissenting opinion is shamed into silence, the party line is paramount and individual thought is winnowed away until one fits perfectly into their mould. Don't tell me it doesn't happen, I've watched it. True, not every organized religion does this, nor even every congregation within any individual church, but they are- to put it mildly- not places were one is encouraged to question the official stance.

      October 5, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
  14. Thx4Fsh

    Through history there has never been a time such as this when the pressure to belong to an inherited religion has been so easily put aside. Yet there are still a limited number of church choices out there. There were probably more religious options in the first three centuries of Christianity than we've seen in the all the following centuries. For instance I would love to see a christian church emerge which uses the Jeffersonian Bible. I do like the philosophy of Jesus, But I also love science and reason and logic. Put those all together and I'd attend that church.

    September 30, 2012 at 12:56 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Thx4Fsh,

      knock yourself out and start one up. There's nothing stopping you and it's all tax free!

      September 30, 2012 at 12:57 am |
    • 24 Hour Crisis Center

      Why would you want to attend church??

      September 30, 2012 at 1:19 am |
    • RevDan

      Thx4Fish – You might consider checking out a Unitarian Universalist church. I think this denomination would meet your requirement. You can learn about it at http://www.uua.org. My own congregation, like other UU congregations, is made up of diverse people with a wide range of beliefs – Christian, Pagan, Humanist, Atheist, Agnostic, Buddhist, Jewish, etc... There is respect for one's independent search for truth and meaning. Science and rational thought are highly valued, yet spirituality and recognition of the great "mystery" are also valued.

      September 30, 2012 at 8:27 am |
  15. THE GOVERNOR

    6-27-12 THUS SAITH THE LORD TSUNAMI ALERT
    6-29-12 THUS SAITH THE LORD FIGHT FOR THE CHILDREN'S LIVES INT EH FLORIDA KEYS

    September 30, 2012 at 12:49 am |
    • 24 Hour Crisis Center

      Ok, I made it through the first 9 seconds....

      She is a prophet?
      There is a global church?
      She knows what the Lord has decided?

      LMFAO.

      September 30, 2012 at 1:33 am |
    • End Religion

      What a pleasant lady! Deranged, but pleasant.

      September 30, 2012 at 2:35 am |
    • FulvicAcid

      @24HR You do realize that people once said the same thing of Jesus Christ, right? If you believe in Christ, his journey as savior, then you have to believe that the next major shift in spirituality and faith could come from anyone, just as it did from the son of a carpenter. The one thing standing in the way of Christianity is it's own sense of permanence.

      September 30, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • THE GOVERNOR

      http://www.youtube.com/user/GOVERNORAPOSTLE
      ALQAEDA THE TAPE

      October 9, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • THE GOVERNOR

      http://www.youtube.com/user/GOVERNORAPOSTLE
      ALQAEDA THE TAPE THUS SAITH THE LORD 10-22-11 http://chirb.it/P03Jbk

      October 9, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • THE GOVERNOR

      October 9, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • THE GOVERNOR

      October 9, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • THE GOVERNOR

      October 9, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • THE GOVERNOR

      October 9, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • THE GOVERNOR

      2-13-05
      THE HOLY SPIRIT SPOKE
      OPRAH WINFREY EXTREME MAKEOVER TELL HER ABOUT SHELTER FRANCISCAN

      October 11, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  16. Good News

    There is only one real GOD and His one true Religion,
    supported by a most Superb and Magnificent "Mathematical Evidence!"
    So it's time to be Spiritual, and yes, also rightfully Religious!

    http://www.holy-19-harvest.com
    UNIVERSAL MAGNIFICENT MIRACLES

    September 30, 2012 at 12:44 am |
    • Better News

      We're all gonna get laid!

      September 30, 2012 at 12:52 am |
    • Better News

      or layed....whatever. Let's get high!

      September 30, 2012 at 12:52 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      September 30, 2012 at 12:53 am |
    • Len

      The "Mathematical Evidence" is that

      0 evidence = 0 God

      Simple!

      September 30, 2012 at 1:06 am |
    • 24 Hour Crisis Center

      Now if we could just get a video of that blond who doesn't wher a bra........

      September 30, 2012 at 1:34 am |
  17. Jeramy

    alright I am spiritual and consider myself to be fairly religious how ever i do not belong to an organized religion do not have some hundre year old religious doctrine telling me what i can and cannot do. I have formed my religious views by studying the various religions and do not consider not taking a stand with one of the mainstream religions or with the atheists fence sitting. I have raid many religious texts of the various religion and picked those things that felt right to me. Belief in general should be about what you feel is right otherwise in the end you will just play lip service to it then feel bad when you violate it later which most people usually do. If you don't feel something is right how can you truly believe it in the end. Honestly if someone wants to feel spirituality with out being tied down with a label i fully support it. You don't need guilt, sin, or an old book to consider yourself spiritually aligned or guided. Most of these books were writtng by people whom were just following their feelings and later it was decided they were divinely inspired.

    Honestly if you think about it, its entirely possible that all the troubles mainstream religions have been having are clear signs that with modern society they no longer really work the same as they did

    September 30, 2012 at 12:43 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Jeramy,

      atheists are not the fence sitters this author is talking about. They make a reasoned and deliberate choice and reject all religiosity.

      No offence intended, (everyone's spiritual journey is their own) but from your post, you sound like the fence sitter this author is talking about.

      September 30, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • Seyedibar

      Believing in any sort of god or magic is delusional. "Spiritual" people are religious people that don't feel like trying that hard or are just to dim-witted to figure it out.

      September 30, 2012 at 1:12 am |
    • Towelie

      You wanna get high Jeramy?

      September 30, 2012 at 1:39 am |
    • Sara

      Atheists are not fence sitters, you're thinking of agnostics, haha.

      September 30, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • Eric

      Agnostics are not "fence sitters" - Agnostics are a type of atheist. It just an admission that since it's impossible to prove or disprove the existence of god(s) you admit that you cannot know for certain they do not exist, but you simply do not believe in them. A gnostic atheist, on the other hand, says that there are no god(s), period.

      October 1, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • GigaHorse

      @Seyedibar:
      You're talking about total strangers as if you have some kind of arcane insight into their most profound, deepest-held beliefs. Sounds like magical thinking to me. Also, doing so in an insulting fashion does nothing to strengthen your position- rather, it severely undermines your credibility.

      Furthermore, were I you, I wouldn't go talking about the intelligence of others until I figured out which iteration of to/too/two to use in any given sentence.

      October 5, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
  18. 24 Hour Crisis Center

    Wow. The person who wrote this is a uh...idiot.

    If you are going to sit on a fence (and I don't) this is a good fence to sit on.

    When I was a teenager, this is exactly how I felt and behaved. In time it led me to truth. Atheism. It was a very important step.

    I guess that is what the author fears and understands, these kids WILL make a decision and it won't go well for the cults.

    September 30, 2012 at 12:36 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @24HCC

      The issue is not with those who are undertaking a spiritual journey – but that eventually this journey should end somewhere. Yours did.

      The author's premise is that "spiritual but not religious" is not a meaningful destination.

      Re-read the summary paragraph of this article.

      September 30, 2012 at 12:46 am |
    • 24 Hour Crisis Center

      I get that, but is an ignorant premise no matter how it is framed. Also I got bored reading.

      September 30, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • Len

      He's not an idiot, he knows that there is no control over that person when they remove the fear that comes with the total religious experience and replace it with just the "nice things" and "feel better" experience.

      September 30, 2012 at 1:11 am |
    • GigaHorse

      Life is supposed to be a destination, now? Religion is supposed to be an experience of fear, suffering and intimidation?

      My understanding was that religion was meant to provide inner peace, to come to an understanding of the Universe and one's place therein. If none of the organized religions can do that for a person, shouldn't they then have the option of forming their own beliefs- even if they (gasp!) don't jibe with anyone else's?

      Perhaps it's merely that I value my individuality too highly. But I'm not about to change to suit others, either. (Rather a Catch-22, that.)

      October 5, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
  19. 24 Hour Crisis Center

    I don't mean to be a beach snob, but where is that gut sitting? It looks like a toxic waste dump. Not the ideal spot to get spiritual in my mind. Yuk.

    September 30, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • 24 Hour Crisis Center

      And where is the friggin' sand??

      September 30, 2012 at 1:21 am |
    • dannyk

      Galveston!

      September 30, 2012 at 7:12 am |
  20. Colin

    Religion is science for the super-stupid, in the way that the para-olympics are athletics for the physically disabled.

    September 30, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • Len

      That's really stupid! The para-olympics guys are still really good athletes and religion has nothing to do with science whatsoever.

      September 30, 2012 at 1:16 am |
    • nope

      @colon
      nope

      September 30, 2012 at 6:01 am |
    • GigaHorse

      Much as I feel 'nope' to be our generation's greatest debater and wordsmith, I do have to agree with them here. Colin's statement smacks of the brand of sweeping arrogance and dismissiveness that atheists find so grating in theists.

      Religious fundamentalists haven't cornered the market on cognitive dissonance.

      October 5, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.