It’s a common reality: people who believe in God without feeling the need to attend church regularly. They even have a name—“Nones”—because of their typical response to surveys asking about their religious affiliation. And those of us who consider Church attendance to be central to our faith might want ask ourselves why they are one of the most rapidly-growing demographics in North America.
What leads a person to believe in God, while refusing to identify themselves as members of a particular “faith community”?
These days, the answer would seem self-evident. Consider the genocides, the acts of terrorism, racism, and oppression by those who proudly claim to represent Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Hinduism. Witness the petty infighting, sectarianism, power-mongering, and divisiveness within religious communities. Add to this the various abuses inflicted by religious authorities on their weakest members, and it’s not difficult to understand why someone might want to have nothing to do with a church at all.
In brief, it points out that a churchless Christianity (or community-less spirituality, if you want to remove it from Christ) is really just a haven for those who prefer to keep God in their heads, as an abstraction that doesn’t call one to account. It’s essentially a pastoral look inside the basic dynamic of “spiritual but not religious.”