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Unorganized religion

Toward the end of our current century, one of the striking current trends is the large number of people who, professing a belief in God by whatever name, are moving away from the institutions which have traditionally intermediated divine worship and provided blessings on births, deaths, and everything important in between. In so doing, many of these people have by no means abandoned spirituality; they have found outlets for their spirituality in small-group practices that "search for God" in ways that are genuine alternatives to traditional practices in churches, temples, mosques, and synagogues. Human mind is freedom loving and best expression of this can be seen in his imagination about the unknown God.

Some imagine Him to be full of virtues to be revered, some others consider Him friendly and some others fear for Him. It is from (or through) this very imagination of some fertile minds that various religious texts, rituals and ideas have sprouted. The membership in "mainline" religious denominations is already down by some 25% from earlier peaks. Some of this certainly counts people who drop out of "organized religion" while actively searching, in New Age or other environments, for personal or small-group ways to express their natural spirituality. There may also be more "shopping around" and switches of allegiance between organized religions than ever before; the growth of Islam in the United States is one example. These trends thus do not betoken a veering away from "spirituality.

" Human beings often seem naturally to reach out for more satisfying belief systems. In the absence of settled certainty, every organized religion is bound to be a "temporary home" to a good many restless spirits in its constituency. The growth of "unorganized spirituality" certainly complicates the interaction between organized religions and the institutions of governance (governments, but also corporations, associations and the many other elements of "civil society"). Among the people who don't feel the need for spiritual guidance from large established human institutions will be a good many activists on secular issues -- such as human rights, environmental protection, or economic fairness -- who will nevertheless present their case as motivated by spiritual concerns with wide political appeal. Teachers, preachers, and therapists representing hundreds of varieties of specialized inspiration are spreading wherever freedom of speech, freedom of communication, and freedom of peaceable assembly are protected.

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