What holds SBNR together if there is no “church?”

One of the reasons “spiritual but not religious” has evaded serious attention is the entrenched belief that a religion must have a brick and mortar infrastructure. The common belief is that religions cannot transmit teachings without some sort of institutional base. Ideally this would be teachings and members centered around a fixed doctrine, and meetings at a fixed time and place. This solidity and history is supposedly what enables religions to anchor their teachings and values, and pass them from one generation to the next.

But SBNR does not behave like this. There is no single founder, there is no fixed doctrine per se, there is certainly no fixing meeting places or ritual calendars.

Yet arguably, spiritual but not religious is wildly successful at transmitting itself despite not having any of the pre-requisites of “real religion.” Bulletin boards in coffee shops and health food stores are not the only way these folks get in touch with each other. Oprah or Chopra are just two iconic figures who taken the SBNR message to the masses.

What is so astonishing about SBNR is its’ completely unorthodox—almost invisible—means of propagating itself. SBNR is held together by mass consensus which operates through market channels and grassroots networks. There are no gatekeeper, no formal commandments and this is part of the reason it keeps growing.