A new poll finds almost one in five Americans is spiritual but not religious.

Ava Lee Scott, an actress and theater-maker in New York, doesn’t practice an organized religion. Raised in both Catholic and Jewish traditions, Scott’s own spiritual life is far more eclectic. She studies ancient languages, from the Aramaic of Christ to Hebrew to Arabic. She reads Tarot cards, runes, and cowrie shells. She believes in a higher power — something some people might call God — but believes that such a power transcends individual traditions’ dogmas. “Whatever name you call your higher power,” she told Vox, “we are all connected.”

Scott is not alone. In fact, she’s part of a group that makes up nearly one-fifth of Americans: the “spiritual but not religious.”

When we talk about religion in America, we usually break the faithful down into familiar categories along political lines: a religious (usually evangelical Protestant) right and an atheistic left. But almost 20 percent of Americans, according to a survey released this week by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) belongs to a category that transcends stereotypical religious identity.

The survey, which profiled about 2,000 American adults in the early months of 2017, found that 18 percent of Americans identify as spiritual but not religious. (By contrast, 31 percent of Americans identify as neither spiritual nor religious.) They tend to skew younger and more educated than religious Americans, with 40 percent holding at least a four-year college degree and 17 percent having some form of postgraduate education. They’re also far more politically liberal than their religious counterparts: 40 percent identify as liberal, compared to 24 percent of the population overall and 27 percent of Americans that are neither spiritual nor religious.

The study created separate “religiosity” and “spirituality” indexes. Participants who scored highly on the Read More Here