The state of the union (spiritually speaking)

The venerable “Gallup Organization”: has produced a study of “The Spiritual State of the Union: The Role of Spiritual Commitment in the United States.”:

Some interesting findings:

— The percentage of Americans who say they are “spiritual but not religious” stands at 40 percent (up 10 percent since 1999), compared to 49 percent who are plain, old “religious.” Boy, 40 percent who are SBNR seems kind of high.

— 70 percent say they have meaning and purpose in life because of their faith (including, I guess, a lot of SBNR folks).

— Since 2002, the percentage of Americans who say they are part of the “Christian religious tradition” has dropped 6 percent.

–Those with no religious tradition have grown by 5 percent.

— Only 4 in 10 American believe that, in general, people can be trusted.

— 79 percent of Americans believe that the spiritual health of the nation is important. (Even 44 percent of liberals agree.)

— 60 percent believe that success in life is determined by religious or spiritual forces.

Gallop did the study for the Spiritual Enterprise Institute. I hadn’t heard of the group, so I checked out its “website,”: which says:

“The Spiritual Enterprise Institute (SEI) was established and endowed in 2005, by Dr. Theodore Roosevelt Malloch, to rediscover, measure, organize and direct new thinking about Spiritual Enterprise and Spiritual Capital. The fundamental goal of SEI is to stimulate new thinking and discovery with regard to the “toolâ€? of Spiritual Capital, and how it can best be employed to benefit social and economic development through Spiritual Enterprise.”

I still don’t know what it is. But the website features a quotation from Ben Franklin: “God helps them that help themselves.”

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.