Do You Call Yourself “Spiritual, but not Religious?”

A new study has found people who refer to themselves as “spiritual” but not religious are more likely to develop a mental disorder.  They are also more likely to abuse illegal drugs.

According to a story on, the research was reported in the prestigious British Journal of Psychiatry.

The study was led by Michael King, a professor at University College London.  King was trying to find out if there is a link between a spiritual or religious understanding of life and psychiatric symptoms.

Dr. King found that people who had traditional religious beliefs did not have a higher prevalence of mental illness compared to non-religious people. They were also less likely to have abused drugs or alcohol.

By contrast, those who called themselves “spiritual” but not religious were most likely to used drugs and to have suffered from a variety of anxiety disorders. They were also most likely to be taking medication for psychiatric diagnoses.

Responding to the findings, King wrote “People who have a spiritual understanding of life in the absence of a religious framework are vulnerable to mental disorder.”

The spiritual but not religious crowd is a growing movement in the United States, with more people choosing to distance themselves from church or organized religion while still believing in some sort of higher power.

Greg Stier, president of the ministry Dare 2 Share, has seen his share of teenagers who call themselves spiritual.  He says many of those teens have emotional challenges.  Greg is convinced that a local church community is the best place to prevent isolation and hopelessness.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM

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