Nearly three quarters of Australians checked None on their religion questions at the last census, up from 19% in 2006. Many people don’t realize that although some Nones, while they may be atheists and agnostics are out there, many others have faith. It’s not mainstream religion, as we commonly understand it.

In the west, there seems to be a rise in people who identify as spiritual but not religious. McCrindle’s 2017 report indicates that 14% of Australians fall into this category. A Pew Research Study in the USA found that 27% of Americans identify as spiritual, up 8% from five-years ago.

Maybe Australia’s faith understanding is changing not because certain groups are winning or losing adherents, but because the idea of organize religion has been increasingly discard.

Conscientious Objection Religion

This trend, regardless of its cause, especially relevant given the Ruddock review on religious freedom. Because Australia’s religious identity is changing, I believe that religious freedoms should also be extend to those with spiritual beliefs.

The Supreme Court of the United States was ask during the Vietnam War whether conscripts who not believe in a Supreme Being, but held spiritual beliefs that opposed war, could be eligible for conscientious objection or status. In that case, the Court ruled that even those who do not believe in God can have spiritual beliefs that are worthy of protection and recognition.

Common spiritual beliefs include divination (such astrology or tarot card readings), alternative healing (for example crystals and Reiki), nature having a spiritual essence and reincarnation. There is also the possibility to communicate with the spirits of those who have passed on. One testament to the influence and interest of these spiritual seekers is the popularity of New Age or even Mind+Body sections in bookstores.

One Testament Religion

They all have one thing in common, they choose their own spirituality. This means that they pick and choose particular beliefs from many religious traditions, then add, on an individual basis, ideas from what might be called folklore, pseudoscience or personal intuition. This is what Rebecca French, a legal scholar, calls grocery cart religion.

The West developed the fundamental right to freedom of religion alongside toleration, which is the notion that a country can allow multiple religious groups to freely operate within its borders. However, the assumption was that religion was practiced by organizations.

When courts ask about someone’s freedom of religion. They request proof that their beliefs are religious and that they were held with sincere intent. This usually requires proving membership in a religious group which has set moral obligations for the person.

Courts have always considered idiosyncratic religious beliefs unworthy of protection. Oblique or implicit, the reasoning is that spiritual beliefs of people are not religious. As any beliefs they may have been lightly adopted can be easily discard.

Psychic Sophie

A 2013 American case involved Psychic Sophie (spiritual counselor). Whose beliefs were influence by the New Age movement and Jesus teachings, natural healing, metaphysics, and other spiritual traditions. Because she used multiple religions and philosophical systems to create her worldview. Her religious freedom claim to exempt from licensing and zoning requirements was reject by the courts. These influences on Psychic Sophie’s inner flow did not make her personal philosophy a religion, according to the courts.

However, I believe that the judicial understanding and application of freedom of religion must evolve along with religion. It doesn’t matter if those beliefs are as real to the spiritual. But not religious person as they are to regular church attendees.

Freedom of religion found on the belief that the government should not burden conscience. Matters which the most deeply held moral beliefs and values a person might have without their consent. More people should be allow to shelter in the umbrella of the freedom of religion doctrine. Wich is characterize by a spirit of generosity and tolerance.