A strong majority (64 percent) of U.S. adults who self-identify “spiritual but not religious” remain affiliated with a religious tradition, according to a Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) analysis released on Nov. 6.

“Roughly one in five (18 percent) identify as white mainline Protestant, and an equal number (18 percent) identify as Catholic. Thirteen percent belong to a non-Christian religious tradition, such as Buddhism, Hinduism or Judaism. Only 10 percent are nonwhite Protestant, and 5 percent are white evangelical Protestant,” PRRI reported.

The majority (65 percent) of the religiously unaffiliated (or “nones”) self-identify as “neither spiritual nor religious.” By comparison, 29 percent of the “nones” say they are “spiritual but not religious.”

People who are either spiritual or religious (or both) indicate they are happier and healthier than those who are neither spiritual nor religious, PRRI found.

They are also more likely to engage in pro-social behaviors, such as doing a personal favor for someone or letting someone go ahead of them in line.

Sixty-one percent of “spiritual but not religious” respondents, and 71 percent of the “spiritual and religious,” said they were very or completely satisfied with their lives.

By comparison, only 47 percent of the “neither spiritual nor religious” affirmed this view.

A similar trend was seen when respondents were asked about their health. While 53 percent of “spiritual and religious” and 50 percent of “spiritual but not religious” folks said they were satisfied with their health, only 37 percent of “neither spiritual nor religious” respondents did so.

The differences are even more significant given that PRRI found that 62 percent of the “neither spiritual nor religious” population of the U.S. is under the age of 50.

By comparison, 56 percent of the “spiritual but not religious” and 46 percent of the “spiritual and religious” are 50 or younger.

The full analysis is available here.

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