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"Spiritual but not religious" (SBNR) also known as " Spiritual but not affiliated " (SBNA) is a popular phrase and initialism used to self-identify a life stance of spirituality that takes issue with organized religion as the sole or most valuable means of furthering spiritual growth.Spirituality places an emphasis upon the well-being of the "mind-body-spirit", The phenomenon possibly started to emerge as a result of a new Romantic movement that began in the 1960s, whereas the relationship between the two has been remotely linked to William James' definition of religious experience, which he defines as the "feelings, acts and experiences of individual their solitude, so far as they apprehend themselves to stand in relation to whatever they may consider the divine." Owen Thomas also states that the ambiguity and lack of structure present in Romantic movements are also present within spiritual movements.
Among those unaffiliated with organized religion as a whole, 56% are men and 44% are women.
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According to a study conducted by Pew Research Center in 2012, the number of Americans who do not identify with any religion has increased from 15% in 2007 to 20% in 2012, and this number continues to grow.
One fifth of the US public and a third of adults under the age of 30 are reportedly unaffiliated with any religion, however they identify as being spiritual in some way.
The meaning of the term "spirit" is more narrow in English than that of other languages, referring to all of the uniquely human capacities and cultural functions.
However, religion is a highly contested term with scholars such as Russell Mc Cutcheon arguing that the term "religion" is used as a way to name a "seemingly distinct domain of diverse items of human activity and production".
Mercadante categorizes SBNRs into five distinct categories: (a) Dissenters, (b) Casuals, (c) Explorers, (d) Seekers, and (e) Immigrants.
Twentieth-century Americans have become enthralled by the mysteries of the East, with Jiddu Krishnamurti and D. Suzuki representing two of the dozens of Asian gurus who ushered in a "New Age" of religious awareness and spiritual understanding for Westerners. Suzuki provided Americans with a foundational knowledge of Zen, a central aspect of Buddhist teachings.
When Mercadante has spoken with SBNRs, they take a decidedly anti-dogmatic stance against religious belief in general.
They claim not only that belief is non-essential, but that it is potentially harmful or at least a hindrance to spirituality.
The field of Religious Studies cannot even agree on one definition.