The Point

The Point: Religious, not Spiritual


John Stonestreet

I think they have it backwards.

According to a 2017 Pew study, nearly in one in five Americans describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious.”

But in a tongue-in-cheek article, Elizabeth Scalia points out many of these people have it backwards: They’re actually religious but not spiritual. They don’t “realize that they’re practicing a religion, even as they observe their special rites and rituals, identify new sins, and assign penances . . .”

Think about “social justice warriors” who patrol the internet seeking heretics and sinners to punish. For example, that Utah girl excoriated for “cultural appropriation” for wearing a traditional Chinese dress to her prom.

If by “religious” we mean obsessed with sin and transgression, these people are every bit the religious fanatics they accuse us of being. What they’re not, however, is “spiritual.”

As Scalia writes, they “know nothing of mercy and too much of rage.” And they know little about wonder, mystery, and gratitude—which is at the heart of true spirituality.

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