"I’m spiritual but not religious"

Alexander, Andie R. and McCutcheon, Russell T. (2017). "I’m spiritual but not religious". In: Stoddard, Brad and Martin, Craig eds. Stereotyping Religion: Critiquing Clichés. Critiquing Religion: Discourse, Culture, Power. London: Bloomsbury Academic, pp. 97–112.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.5040/9781474292238.ch-007


It’s relatively easy these days to hear someone say, “I’m spiritual but not religious” — sometimes abbreviated as SBNR. But in our experience it’s not the sort of thing people just go around saying, unprompted; for, much like declaring your love of chocolate, where you’re originally from, or your college major, it’s usually stated as an answer to a question, asked and answered in a specific situation — such as the time that one of us was shopping for furniture in a new city, having just moved there. Learning that we were new to town, the salesperson asked, “Have you found a church-home yet? ” There’s a variety of answers, to be sure, from “Yes I have” or “No, but can you suggest one? ” to “I don’t believe in God” or maybe even “Why are you asking me that? ” Among the imaginable answers to this query would be, "No; I'm spiritual but not religious."

This chapter is curious to find out what might be going on in that moment, during that exchange. And given our experience studying human behavior, our hunch is that the social actors involved don't necessarily know all that might be involved in these seemingly simple questions and answers.

Viewing alternatives


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions
No digital document available to download for this item

Item Actions