Studies are appearing that reveal that there are significant numbers of people who are not only unaffiliated religiously but also don’t really care. Call them the not-spiritual-not-religious.
Cathy Lynn Grossman writes this piece for the Religion News Service that appeared in the Washington Post:
When Ben Helton signed up for an online dating service, under “religion” he called himself “spiritually apathetic.”
On Sunday mornings, when Bill Dohm turns his eyes toward heaven, he’s just checking the weather so he can fly his 1946 Aeronca Champ two-seater plane.
Helton, 28, and Dohm, 54, aren’t atheists. They simply shrug off God, religion, heaven or the ever-trendy search-for-meaning and/or purpose. Their attitude could be summed up as “So what?”
“The real dirty little secret of religiosity in America is that there are so many people for whom spiritual interest, thinking about ultimate questions, is minimal,” said Mark Silk, professor of religion and public life at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.
According to Grossman, here is what researchers have turned up when they fine-tuned their studies to discover what the “So What” set, as she calls it, might look like:
— 44 percent told the 2011 Baylor University Religion Survey they spend no time seeking “eternal wisdom,” and 19 percent said “it’s useless to search for meaning.”
— 46 percent told a 2011 survey by Nashville, Tenn.-based LifeWay Research that they never wonder whether they will go to heaven.
— 28 percent told LifeWay “it’s not a major priority in my life to find my deeper purpose.” And 18 percent scoffed at the idea that God has a purpose or plan for everyone.
— 6.3 percent of Americans turned up on Pew Forum’s 2007 Religious Landscape Survey as totally secular — unconnected to God or a higher power or any religious identity and willing to say religion is not important in their lives.