Research: UK has been becoming post-religious but not post-spiritual

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Last week Theos (a ThinkTank on religion and society) released a really interesting report, called The Spirit of Things Unseen, looking at how spiritual we are as a society in light of the decline of formal religion over the last half-century.

And what they found was really interesting:

…for all that formalised religious belief and institutionalised religious belonging has declined over recent decades, the British have not become a nation of atheists or materialists. On the contrary, a spiritual current runs as, if not more, powerfully through the nation than it once did.

For The Lab this isn’t completely unexpected news, as we’ve always had a sense that UK culture is still incredibly spiritual. In fact, from our experience, I think that in the time we’ve been working with young people, their culture has become more spiritually aware.

In particular, the Theos research shows that over three-quarters of all adults (77%) and three fifths (61%) of non-religious people believe that “there are things in life that we simply cannot explain through science or any other means.”

Here’s another quote from the report’s conclusion:

Findings appear to differ slightly between beliefs and practice, with fewer people acting on their spiritual beliefs than holding them. This may be one of the salient differences between spirituality and religiosity – the latter, because it is more organised, communal, formalised, and explicitly ethical, is more likely to see belief translate into practice; whereas the former, because it is more personal, individualised and diverse is more likely to remain as a belief.

What do you think about these findings? Did they surprise you?

Join in the conversation by leaving a comment.

About the author: James Henley
James Henley
James has been with The Lab since 2007 and leads our team. He's an ordained pioneer minister in the Church in Wales.