by Thom Hiatt
A new article on VOX reported research finding that nearly one in five Americans are “spiritual but not religious.”
According to the research:
- RELIGIOUS people frequently attend worship services and they consider religion to be an important factor in their lives.
- SPIRITUAL people report feeling a connection to “something much larger than” themselves and “feel connected to the world around” them.
The suggestion might be that “spiritual people” do not necessarily attend Mass or other services… or in other words… that the world is their church. And “church” is a matter of being but not necessarily a place or a group of fellow parishioners.
As a Catholic, I can share that many Catholics attend Mass but do not participate in “The Body of Christ” outside of Mass, with groups, or in the community. In other words, they are at church for one hour on Sunday, and that’s it. I am not going to say whether that’s best for them. It’s a personal decision.
In my own journey, I have found that happier “religious” people tend to be involved in at least one faith-based group or service ministry outside of the “one hour on Sunday.” They might be a member of:
- Knights of Columbus
- Catholic Daughters
- Italian Catholic Federation
- Men’s Prayer Group
- Mary’s Messengers
- And so on…
People who are both religious and involved also tend to give back more to the church and to the community, via their volunteer time, service, and financial gifts. These donations most often help the church to grow, and provide a number of services to those in need both locally and throughout the world.
That said, a person who might be “spiritual but not religious” may feel that they have their own church in their heart, but are a lot less involved in the overall community, and have far less exposure to opportunities to help others.