If ‘Spiritual But Not Religious’ People Are Not Religious What Difference Do They Make?

Harvey, Graham (2016). If ‘Spiritual But Not Religious’ People Are Not Religious What Difference Do They Make? Journal for the Study of Spirituality, 6(2) pp. 128–141.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/20440243.2016.1235164


Modernity's project of secularisation may be challenged by the resurgence of religion in the public sphere (indicated most dramatically by religiously motivated conflicts but also in more everyday contexts). The rising profile of spirituality in healthcare and business training programmes may offer other challenges. Classically, spirituality has been differentiated from religion along seemingly Cartesian lines: the former being the fully interiorised and privatised form of putatively communal and institutionalised religion. This paper questions whether this division works. Taking a relational or personalist approach to the topic, it considers what interactions and commitments are helpfully labelled and theorised as spirituality. It seeks to make sense of the difference the ‘spiritual but not religious’ (SBNR) phenomenon makes to scholarly debates about ways of re-assembling human and larger-than-human acts in the everyday world. The paper is based on a keynote presentation given at the Annual Conference of the British Association for the Study of Spirituality in May 2016 which addressed the question ‘Can spirituality transform our world?’.

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