Reply To: “I’m Spiritual, but Not Religious”

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Avatar photoMark J Hornbacher

I’d say, “Tell me about that. What do you mean when you say, ‘spiritual but not religious’?”

After they give their answer, I’d ask them “How did you come to those conclusions?”

Depending upon how they answer all this, I might do something different — but I think in some cases I would follow up with something like the following:

“This is the way I think about it: Everybody, or most people, are spiritual in one way or another — but spirituality can be good, bad, or very often, it can be mediocre. Religion is organized spirituality. It helps us to be more consistent between belief and action, and accountable to others, in our spirituality. It gives us the insights of others — not just of some small group of individuals, but the collective wisdom of people over centuries. And then there’s the question of true religion and false religion: if spirituality can be good, bad, or mediocre, then religion also can be be good, bad, or mediocre. It’s not enough to say that we’re spiritual. If we want to benefit from our spirituality, we want to have the benefits of religion, and more than that — we want the benefits of true religion.”