Spiritual Multiplicity: Being and Becoming Spiritually Unaffiliated

Jewell, Neonu

While the United States remains a majority Christian society and one of the largest Christian societies in the world, the number of people who identify as Christian is declining. According to a Pew Research Center’s 2018-2019 survey, 65% of American adults identify as Christian, and 26% identify as unaffiliated, an increase from 17% in 2009. The more telling statistics relate to millennials. Pew reports that 49% identify as Christian, 9% identify with non-Christian faiths, and 40% are unaffiliated. Half of the millennials identifying as non-Christian demonstrates the changing landscape of spiritual affiliation in the United States.

The survey did not list a category for multi-religious affiliation, participation, or belonging. We should research how many Christians engage with another tradition from these numbers. We cannot determine who among the broad “unaffiliated” category are atheist, agnostic, spiritual, multiple belongers, or other forms of multi-religious engagers. People who identify as spiritual or engage with more than one faith tradition must select the " unaffiliated " umbrella box.” Christian thought and standards dominate religious discourse in the United States, often pushing multi-religious faith to the margins. Yet, increased access to different spiritual teachings and the transfer of theological authority from institutional leaders and community to individuals widens the path for spiritual multiplicity and interreligious theologies that privilege personal experience and choice.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Union Theological Seminary
Published Here
January 2, 2024