"I'm spiritual, but not religious."

I encounter this phrase quite a bit. How do you interpret it?

I’ve spoken to people who claim this. They say that they have a “spiritual relationship with God” but that “religion is man-made”.

Yes I would like to see how this gets answered my In laws love saying this to us.

It means that though they don’t go to any church, they think they are quite good and holy and that they know more than God does about the right way to live :slight_smile:

Yep. Or that they want to experience more than the material but are afraid to come under any authority.

It means they want to have their cake and eat it too, but they don’t realize that the Catholic Church is the only way to truly do that. Pray for them.

God Bless


it means they believe in an afterlife, but refuse to believe it takes anything more than that to get to heaven

I’ve heard this phrase quite a bit from my family. They also say “Organized religion is not for everyone.” From their statements and actions I would conclude that it means they believe in God but that they do not believe that any one religion is “right”. My brother, for example, points to all the sufferings that he believes have occured at the hands of the religious. There has undoubtedly been suffering at the hands of religious people-- though that number is dwarfed by the suffering that has occured at the hands of non-believers. My brother uses this issue (sinfulness among religions) as a “proof” that organized religion is a “man-made way of controlling the masses.”

Sinfulness and suffering aside, it seems to me that for my family and probably other people, it is really an issue of obedience. They don’t want to be told what to do by an organized religion. They want to make up their own beliefs about God and live their lives as they see fit. :dts:

I interpret it to mean, “I’m an idiot who thinks that God is fooled by my outward appearance of good intentions. Someone once told me that Sunday School was boring, and for some reason, I believed it just on their say-so (although with regard to every other religious subject, I try to look smart by being skeptical and repeating things I’ve heard Richard Dawkins say on talk shows). Since God wouldn’t want me to be bored, I stayed away from Sunday School as a child, which is why, today, I haven’t got the first clue what Christianity actually teaches. I get my theology from The Discovery Channel.” :stuck_out_tongue:

Sorry - I’m sure that’s not what you wanted to hear.

I have no idea what people are actually attempting to convey, when they say that.

In my experience those who have said this to me know I embrace and love Catholicism and they want to cut off any discussion before it gets started. They are living the religion of our culture that says every path is right if its right for you, and everything you may do in persuit of your own personal happiness is okay as long as you are true to your own personal moral code and being basically a good person. And they accept any kind of “spirituality” that comes there way as long as it does not have moral absolutes and ask anything of them.

If that sounds harsh, its really just the truth of too many in my life that I love. It breaks my heart but I am praying for them with much hope and confidence. When I can, I am actively trying to show them the love of Christ and find points of agreement with them. And meanwhile praying for them, and asking the Holy Spirit to give me the right moment and right words to speak.


Perhaps when people say they are spiritual they mean that they are interested the ultimate nature of humankind but do not believe there is one path to follow.

Perhaps when people say they are not religious they mean that they do not see the need for rites, rituals or authority in order to lead a moral life.

This appears to upset those who feel that rites, ritual, and authority are absolutely necessary in following a spiritual path.
I don’t understand why the spiritual/non religious should upset those that are religious. I would think the religious would be too busy “dusting” their own souls to throw mud at the practices of others.

I can understand that the religious wish to share their beliefs and spread their faith, but why be upset or sarcastic if others are not interested? Can someone please explain?

I don’t see these people leading moral lives, though; do you?

When is the last time you saw a “spiritual but not religious” person serving meals at a soup kitchen, sitting with the dying in an AIDS hospice, or rescuing homeless people to find them jobs and homes - or even remaining faithful to their spouse through hard times?

The people I see doing these things aren’t always Catholics, but they are always people of great faith, who gather in community at least once a week, and who can articulate a coherent system of theology that includes a God who demands great things of us.

:rotfl: :rotfl:
So you know my in laws!!
I hear this all the time.

You may wish to widen your circle of friends.

I know of many spiritual but non religious people who give aid to others who are sick, or needy.

These people have coherent moral beliefs and even remain faithful to their spouses.

I know people who attend Church every Sunday who pay only lip service to their religion. They lie and cheat others at the drop of a hat. Adultery and divorce is common place among these people.

Speaking in generalities as you have only makes it clearer to me that you are upset by people who think differently than you.

I wish you peace and better acquaintances.

Speaking in generalities as you have only makes it clearer to me that you are upset by people who think differently than you.

I wish you peace and better acquaintances.


And where do these people go to give “aid” to those in need? Do they perhaps volunteer through Christian organizations? And this group of “spiritual but not religious” people - do they have their own organizations that reach out across the globe to bring aid and comfort to those in need?

You may know some INDIVIDUALS who profess no religious affiliation yet choose to volunteer for charitable groups, but they are not a force large enough, dedicated enough, or faith driven enough to come close to the works done by Christians.

“I am spiritual”, IMO, means "I have created my own little “religion” with it’s own little uncomplicated demands and rules; chief among them being “I must be a good person.”

I like to reply with, “I’m not honest, but you’re really interesting.”

What, then, is a “good” person? :confused:

Oh my. Look at what I just found:


Of course, there had to be a website named that. :smiley:

“I’m lost, confused, or apathetic. Please pray for me.”

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