As students, we might not be looked upon as the most moral and ethical of cultural groups. However, in a world of growing religious disbelief, we thought it would be interesting to find out just how in, or out of touch we are with the religious world.
In the first of a series of pieces here on Student Wire, we’re going to be exploring different religious beliefs, with a particular focus on those that are popular amongst younger people.
To kick things off, we spoke to Steven Upton, a Minister at the Spiritualists’ National Union, about why the Spiritualist faith is one that the younger generations can relate to in a time where religion is undoubtedly on the decline.
The Origins of Spiritualism
Dating back just over a century and a half, Spiritualism is a fairly new religion. It dates back to 1848 in Hydesville, upper New York state, where on the night of 31st March, the Fox sisters are alleged to have made the first connection with the spirits. Whilst specifics of the events seem to differ from source to source, what is clear is that events on that evening have continued to manifest over time and become the grounds for a religion built on personal interpretation and understanding of any spiritual philosophy.
The Seven Principles
Built into the fabric of the religion are ‘Seven Principles’ which were adapted and adopted by the SNU and incorporated into the religion as guidelines for a way of life. The seven principles are:
- The Fatherhood of God
- The Brotherhood of Man
- The Communion of Spirits and the Ministry of Angels
- The Continuous Existence of the Human Soul
- Personal Responsibility
- Compensation and Retribution Hereafter for all the Good and Evil Deeds done on Earth
- Eternal Progress Open to every Human Soul.
Spiritualism in the UK
Whilst Spiritualism may have originated in the US, it is now the UK which boasts the largest national union, with over 340 churches now established and an estimated 100,000 people identifying themselves as Spiritualists. Perhaps more in line with the ‘thinking person’ than other, more rigid religions, Spiritualism offers young followers the chance to make an informed decision on religion, based on their own educational learnings, historical evidence and the need to prove religious beliefs.
According to the UK Census, from 2010- 2011, there has been a 79% growth in those practicing Spiritualism, while many other religions are in decline. This indicates that the more modern values of less traditional religions like Spiritualism, may be becoming more appealing to modern day society.
Appeal to young people
The values of Spiritualism are thought to resonate with the belief and value systems of many young people today. This can be seen best in the Spiritualists’ National Union ‘Seven Principles’. For example, principle two, ‘The Brotherhood of Man’, strives to achieve equality, security and peace, and states that all are equal regardless of race, colour or creed.
Recent research carried out by the SNU also supports this. Exploring the UK’s belief and value system, it found that young people are most interested in peace (56%), morals (53%) and loyalty (47%) – all of which are part of modern Spiritualist beliefs today.
Life After Death
In the past Spiritualism has received a lot of media attention for its role in communicating with the dead, with many famous TV mediums and psychics providing ‘the entertainment factor’; often sensationalising the facts and causing the religion to be misunderstood within society.
Additionally, with negative media attention around commercial mediumship, with regards to con-artists that pose as mediums in order to prey on the vulnerable and take their money, the Spiritualists’ National Union are keen to educate the public on the true meaning of Spiritualism and abolish this sensationalised image.
Although Spiritualism does involve communicating with dead, Steven Upton stated that there was a difference between commercial mediumship and spiritual mediumship. While commercial mediumship is sensationalised and often the work of fraudulent mediums, Spiritual mediumship is the work of trained mediums who have studied to become controlled or directed routes for Spirit communication so that the source of any information received is known to be sound and genuine. Spiritualist mediums will seek to give evidence of survival of death and upliftment for those who are mourning, and will not take advantage.
Want to find out more?
If reading this has provided you with an itch to find out more, the Spiritualists’ National union have over 340 churches across the UK, all of which can be found on the their website at www.snu.org.uk. Additionally, The Arthur Findlay College, the main centre for education on spiritualism and the psychic sciences in the UK is located at Stansted Hall, Essex and offers a range of day, weekend and week-long courses. The centre attracts people from all over the world and more information on courses can be found at arthurfindlaycollege.org.
Latest posts by Mary-Kate Reynolds (see all)
- Thailand – the best destination for a student summer - 21/08/2015
- What to expect at Reading & Leeds Festival 2015 - 07/05/2015
- Top 10 posts from April 2015 - 06/05/2015