Are you “spiritual but not religious?”

Check out Eric Hyde's Blog
Dec 5, 2012

This is a brilliant article on the common aphorism of “being spiritual and not religious” by Eric Hyde, you absolutely must read!

In my experience, I found that people who claim they are spiritual, but not religious, usually want to distance themselves from organized religions–sometimes for legitimate reasons but mostly for emotional reasons–not logical ones.  But the cost of being spiritual without a religious foundation, is religious relativism and subjectivism that ends up believing anything and everything without any rational basis.  It confuses emotional highs with spiritual substance.  It also tragically leads toward no moral accountability at all.

Here is a snippet of Eric Hyde’s article:

I have found the phrase, “I am spiritual, not religious,” and its redheaded stepchild, “I follow Jesus, not tradition,” to be manifestations of spiritual pride, not spiritual enlightenment. These phrases are almost always accompanied by a corresponding lifestyle where the rules are made up as you go and all things are ultimately justifiable in the light of “personal revelation.” It is a world of Christianity where there is no human authority, save oneself; where millions of individual “popes” abound, but the Church is nonexistent; it’s essentially a personal religious-potpourri not unlike New Age adherence, with slightly different language.

To claim to be spiritual and not religious is like claiming to have taken a swim without getting wet. Anyone who embarks on anything spiritual will either receive the religious tradition from which it comes, or create their own religious tradition in the attempt to understand and practice it. The next time you hear the phrase, or, God forbid, say the phrase, remember that it has no meaning whatsoever. It is perhaps one of the emptiest phrases ever developed in the English language.

What do you think? Is Eric right? 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Mike

    Hi Khaldoun, it’s been a long time. I hope you don’t mind if I say a few things in response. Let me premise this by saying that I’m not opposed to religion, including Christianity, per se, and if people want to express their religion, in this case, various Christianities, in a conventional, traditional, organized setting, that’s fine. To each his own.

    Perhaps I’m misunderstanding you, but I see little to no evidence that organized religious institutions can be counted on to hold people “morally accountable.” Morally accountable for what? After the various sexual abuse of children scandals in the catholic church and evangelical church, along with other forms of corruption and criminality that we’ve seen in religious institutions, I don’t think they are the consistent beacon of morality that they claim to be. I’m not saying ALL religious institutions have corruption and criminality, but we’ve seen enough scandals in the Catholic and Evangelical world that maybe they should focus on cleaning up their own act before lecturing the rest of us on morality. I’m not talking to you, in particular, Khaldoun. I’m speaking about organized religious institutions.

    You and the author of the blog to which you refer talk about the importance of moral accountability. I agree with you both of you that moral accountability is important. But why do you feel we need religious institutions to keep up morally accountable? What about the laws of the land in which we live? Yes, I know there are various laws that are different depending on the country, and there can be unjust laws, but many of them are just. Is it that you want people held accountable for rules which civil authorities can’t enforce? if so, which ones?

    Also, where in the Bible do we see much of the modern, western church system, such as the clergy and laity? How is this “biblical?” There are plenty of sincere people of Christian faith who fellowship with each other outside of organized, institutional churches. What do you think of such an arrangement?

    Finally, it’s no surprise that as more and more people leave organized religious institutions behind, that these same institutions out of desperation, will do whatever they can to keep people in them. There are several reasons for this. Many of these same institutions like to control people and prevent them from thinking for themselves. Also, let’s face it, much of organized religion, despite it’s claims to the contrary, is a money making business. The less and less people who come to a church, the less money the pastor and other church staff can make, and the less money there is to spend on various building projects. Gotta build that multi-million dollar worship center, you know? 🙂

    I hope you don’t find any of this offensive. As I said earlier, I’m not talking about or to you personally and particularly. I’m just talking about much of organized religion. Hope you don’t mind the post.

    p.s. If you haven’t already, spend some time at the Christian website, to get a clearer picture of what I’m talking about.

  • Tiffany

    Are you claiming that people feel more obligated to hold accountability for their actions because of the rules that have been established in religion?

    Furthermore, why does being spiritual with a separation from religion, necessarily lead toward a path of no moral accountability ?

    What about those that are good at their core, but are not religious?

    I agree with Eric to some extent. Religion and Spirituality go hand in hand. It is almost impossible to truly claim one without the other. Most principles in religions are based off universal truths. So even if we don’t think we are engaging in religious activity or following the rules of a religion, most of the time we are unknowingly.

    • Hi Tiffany!
      Yes, if there are rules we have a sense of accountability to those who try to help us follow them.
      It does not necessarily lead to a path of no moral accountability, but in my experience, that is exactly what I found it does lead. Any Jack, George, Muhammad or Mary can say they “love” God, and then go ahead and make up their own arbitrary rules about God out of their butts ! 🙂 If I may be so blunt. Religion is a structure that helps us, the question is, is the religion we follow based on truth or on invented opinions about God?
      Thanks for your feedback!!