Utne Blogs > Mind and Body

Spirituality without Religion

by Cally Carswell 

Tags: Spirituality, organized religion, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Search Institute,

A new survey of 12- to 25-year-olds finds that many young people are increasingly spiritual but more skeptical of organized religion, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. The study, recently released by the Minneapolis-based Search Institute, surveyed almost 7,000 subjects of diverse faiths (and of no faith) from around the world.

Miriam Cameron, a faculty member at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality and Healing, told the Star Tribune that the study’s findings didn’t surprise her. “Many of my students equate religion with dogma and spirituality with harmony,” she said. But Cameron also noted that, “Spirituality works well with most religions. The only ones it doesn't work with are the angry people who say that everyone else's image of God is wrong.”

One 15-year-old girl from South Africa said in a focus group for the study (PDF), “Spiritual is something one experiences in your own being. Religion is, well, your religion. Most of our religion is forced—the do’s and don’ts. Being spiritual means standing on a mountain with the wind blowing through your hair, and the feeling of being free.”