Date of Graduation

Spring 2014


Master of Arts in Religious Studies


Religious Studies

Committee Chair

John Schmalzbauer


spiritual but not religious, spirituality, religion, metaphysicals, pluralists, free-range christians

Subject Categories



Sociologists and religion scholars have made broad statements about people who identify as "spiritual but not religious." To determine whether such generalizations are justified, in-depth interviews were conducted with twelve people who identify themselves as "spiritual but not religious" and who currently live or recently lived in the southern United States. These interviews covered the topics of beliefs, practices, and material culture. Three distinct subgroups of "spiritual but not religious" were identified: Metaphysicals, Spiritual Pluralists, and Free-Range Christians. The interviews also revealed attitudes that transcended these subgroups, and the vast majority of respondents rejected the category "religious." These findings lead to the conclusion that scholars and journalists must take care when speaking about those who are "spiritual but not religious." They must make certain that what they are stating actually does transcend each subgroup of "spiritual but not religious" to include all groups. Recognition of these subgroups is necessary when discussing people who reject religious identifiers in favor of spiritual ones.


© Steven Wayne Fouse

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