The difference between Spirituality and Religiosity: Is there any such thing as “non-affiliated”?

religious diversity

With the upcoming election there have been many debates and discussions involving religion and how it factors in to the equation. This got me thinking, how does a candidate approach this topic or situation considering the frequently changing landscape of American Religion. Hearing some of their answers to questions regarding this topic, or topics similar to it, made me think about the rising number of people who claim to be just simply spiritual not religious. So many Americans today, especially young Americans, are claiming no religion and no belief in God. Whether or not it’s just the cool thing to do or these people actually believe what they’re saying is probably specific to the case. None the less, there has been a steady trend of declining belief in God or a supernatural power of any sort amongst American citizens in the last half century.

A Huffington Post article with a similar topic to this blog post noted some of Pew Research’s and Gallup’s findings when researching the belief in God amongst Americans. Here is what they found, “In 1966, some 98 percent of Americans said they believed in God, according to a Gallup survey. When Gallup and Pew Research surveyed Americans in 2014, the number had dropped to 86 percent and 89 percent respectively. Among the youngest adults surveyed by Pew, those born between 1990 and 1996, the share of believers was just 80 percent.” They also found that Christianity was taking, most likely, the biggest hit from this trend. According to Gallup, in 1948, 91% of Americans identified as Christian with that statistic taking a big hit in the decades following and still continuing today. Just in the years between 2007 and 2014 the percentage of people identifying as Christian fell from 78.4 percent to 70.6 percent. Now 1 in 3 Americans under the age of 35 identify as “non-religious” or “unaffiliated” making them the second biggest religious group in America behind Evangelical Protestants.

The new identification emerging in American culture is “spiritual but notreligious”. This is intriguing to me if one considers the definition of spirituality and religiosity. Webster’s dictionary defines spirituality as “the quality or state of being concerned with religion or religious matters : the quality or state of being spiritual” and Religiosity as “the quality of being religious, devoutness.” Those sound eerily similar to me.

So that begs the question is there a difference between spirituality and religiosity? Is there, at least, enough of a difference that the claim “spiritual but not religious” can be justified. Agnostics and Atheists could technically still make this “spiritual but not religious” claim considering their beliefs about God alone are what separate them from those who believe in God. While Nihilists reject all moral or religious practices and values. So is there no escaping religion in American society except for claiming to be a nihilist?

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