More Americans now say they’re spiritual but not religious

Source: Pew Research Center

Some people may see the term “spiritual but not religious” as indecisive and devoid of substance. Others embrace it as an accurate way to describe themselves. What is beyond dispute, however, is that the label applies to a growing share of Americans.

About a quarter of U.S. adults (27%) now say they think of themselves as spiritual but not religious, up 8 percentage points in five years, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted between April 25 and June 4 of this year. This growth has been broad-based: It has occurred among men and women; whites, blacks and Hispanics; people of many different ages and education levels; and among Republicans and Democrats. For instance, the share of whites who identify as spiritual but not religious has grown by 8 percentage points in the past five years.

To be clear, the survey did not directly ask respondents whether the label “spiritual but not religious” describes them. Instead, it asked two separate questions: “Do you think of yourself as a religious person, or not?” and “Do you think of yourself as a spiritual person, or not?” The results presented here are the product of combining responses to those two questions.

In addition to those who say they are spiritual but not religious, 48% say they are both religious and spiritual, while 6% say they are religious but not spiritual. Another 18% answer both questions negatively, saying they are neither religious nor spiritual. Looked at another way, only 54% of U.S. adults think of themselves as religious – down 11 points since 2012 – while far more (75%) say they are spiritual, a figure that has remained relatively steady in recent years.

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