Changing Spiritual Beliefs

By Rachel Swanoski 

Organised and structured religion, has been and is undergoing huge changes in belief and worship trends – according to the British based BHA, numerous surveys indicate that the proportion of individuals who do not hold religious beliefs is steadily increasing. In a recent poll conducted by YouGov in 2011, when asked the question ‘What is your religion?,’ 61% of people in England and Wales ticked a religious box (53.48% Christian and 7.22% other) while 39% ticked ‘No religion’. When the same sample was asked the follow-up question ‘Are you religious?’, only 29% of the same people said ‘Yes’ while 65% said ‘No’, meaning over half of those whom the census would count as having a religion said they were not religious.

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Asked when they had last attended a place of worship for religious reasons, most people in England and Wales (63%) had not attended in the past year, 43% of people last attended over a year ago and 20% of people had never attended. Only 9% of people had attended a place of worship within the last week.

Across the pond in the USA, a survey in May 2011, revealed 91% of Americans believed in God, and an interesting summary of the Gallup findings goes on to say that the nature of faith has changed, even if actual belief has not. One in 10 Americans don’t identify with one particular faith, which is a drastic change from the 1940s and 1950s. And about 12 percent of those surveyed liked referring to God as a “higher power” or a “universal spirit” which probably wasn’t as popular once upon a time.

Earthly treasures are missing from the ‘spiritual list’ defined as living a life that is more meaningful, passionate and more conscious. Spirituality means a thirst for something else beyond the ‘attractive’ but limited scope of the beautiful house, sports car and Dior saddlebag. Spiritual practices include but are not limited to meditation, yoga, prayer, loving relationships, life purpose, and spiritual or psychic development within a class setting or alone using self development guides.

Interest in the spiritual genre comes at a testing time when our nation is experiencing economic & political uncertainty, and turbulent times, traditionally when faced with such challenges, we look within. Organized religion is and has been seeing a reduction in numbers, and a new era of modern spirituality is dawning, many that do still attend church both in the UK and USA do so with a raft of spiritual and esteoric books at their elbow – and with, surprisingly, the acceptance of their vicars and ministers.

The publishing industry sees the spiritual book niche as an answer to waning organised religion sales. The era of electronic online trading, and the erosion of the high street is felt keenly by branded book stores who are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel drift away into the mist, while online merchandising monsters such as Amazon take centre stage.

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