This article was published in the Spring 2001 issue of Spirituality & Health.
Each year when Christmas and Easter, Hanukkah and Passover give spirituality a public focus, the media report on new opinion polls that confirm what last year’s polls told us: Americans believe in God (overwhelmingly), belong to houses of worship (by a substantial majority), and go to services regularly (almost half of us). We appear to be so consistent that comparable statistics have shown up since the 1930s. What’s new in the last decade is that pollsters added spiritual growth (four out of five of us say we want it). And that probably won’t change much either.
But what these polls have largely missed is that our spiritual journeys are now taking us down paths that were not available to previous generations. Not only are we exposed to a wider variety of religious practices, but the word spirituality has stepped out on its own. It now signifies a multitude of indispensable indefinables that give our lives meaning.
So we decided to create our own poll to peek under the hood of this new American spirituality. We commi …
Robert Owens (Bob) Scott is director of faith formations at Trinity Church Wall Street in Manhattan, which funded the first six years of Spirituality & Health. Bob was editor in chief of S&H during those years.