Tingles of the Transcendent Don’t Always Prompt People to Go to Church

PRRI finds that 29 percent of Americans are both spiritual and religious, and 31 percent are neither: this latter category includes people who formally adhere to a faith but without much enthusiasm. But that still leaves large groups of people outside that binary split: those whose transcendent feelings don’t prompt them to sign up to any particular faith (18 percent), and those who pray or fast but have little real interest in the numinous (22 percent). Because they seem to be growing, demographers, marketing strategists, and political consultants will probably pay particular attention to the “spiritual but not religious” segment. In fact, most (seven in 10) of these spiritual floaters do have some nominal religious allegiance, presumably one that has ceased to have much significance for them. About one in five belongs to a mainline (theologically moderate) Protestant church, and the same share is formally Catholic.

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