Scot McKnight takes Diana Butler Bass to task on her latest book Christianity After Religion. Bass explores the phenomenon of people who self-describe as “spiritual but not religious. Bass contends that they are the new religious (should I say spiritual) norm in our culture. I appreciate the push back that McKnight gives because the term does seem so broad that it is essentially useless. Scot says:
Is something going on? Yes, I believe that. But the closing down of mainline churches is not the same as decline in attendance in American churches. What is going on is partly registered with this SBNR category. I’m with the pastors and clergy Diana finds irritating who think “spiritual but not religious” lacks clarity so in a survey it means so much it may mean almost nothing. It tends to register what people are against (churches) and not what they are for.
Go to SBNR at Jesus Creed for the rest of his article.
There is no denying that religious groups have done bad things throughout the ages. There is no getting away from the fact that the church at large has things to account for. However, “spiritual but not religious” seems less of a position or point of view than a catch all category for those who are both indifferent to or irritated by religion and but unwilling to give up the ghost on faith.