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“Spiritual But Not Religious”: The Boring New Normal Among Music Artists

Jive Records

Matthew Becklo - published on 02/13/14

If you think you've heard it before, it's because it's everywhere.

“I’m not a religious person anymore, but I’ve learned that spiritual energy transcends religion, and that’s something I’ve attempted to incorporate into my music.”

As I read this personal confession from folk singer Noah Gundersen, something dawned on me: I’d heard these words before. Almost verbatim. But where?

Then I realized the startling answer: everywhere. I’d been hearing this testimony to the arias of spiritual open-mindedness precisely everywhere. The “spiritual but not religious” (or SBNR) movement – which emphasizes love, emotion, and belief in a “higher power” over churches, dogmas, and any specific religious conception of God – went and became the new normal before we even knew what to call it.

Just listen to these quotes from a dozen of the biggest names in music:

Ariana Grande:

“I’ve always been a little bit of everything when it comes to religion… Nobody knows this, but I also meditate every day and do spiritual energy work. So I’m kind of all over the place as far as religion and spirituality go, but I like it all.”

Lady Gaga:

“[I’m] spiritual… There’s really no religion that doesn’t hate or condemn a certain kind of people, and I totally believe in all love and forgiveness, and excluding no one.”

Justin Timberlake:

“I think the term for me would be more spiritual than religious.”

Demi Lavato:

“I’m not very religious but I’m VERY spiritual and I DO believe in God.”

Macklemore:

“I’ve never been a religious person. I’ve been a spiritual person since I was about 15, 16, when I was first introduced to Psilocybin.”

Rihanna:

“My tattoos are all spiritual and show how I feel about religion. I have a falcon which is an Egyptian falcon and is supposed to stand for God.”

Beyoncé:

“I am about faith and spirituality more so than religion. Doing right by others and not judging.”

Drake:

“I’m not too much of a religious person… it’s more just a personal thing. It doesn’t matter about religion. I just talk. I need someone to talk to.”

Jay Z:

“If people must know my religious beliefs, I believe in one God. I don’t believe in religion.”

Katy Perry:

“My upbringing was so strict and sheltered and rigid, and now it’s a lot more loose… I have a lot of spiritual, New Agey stuff that I’ve applied to my life now.”

Mac Miller:

“I learned a lot about religion and it has always kind of infatuated me… as far as my personal views, I believe that there’s something out there, but I don’t believe that anyone knows what it is.”

Pink:

“I’m a very spiritual person. It’s the baby blanket of my life. But I don’t believe in organized religion. How can one group be right and everybody else wrong?”

Bored yet?

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