I used to know an older Presbyterian Elder and his wife who would say this.
“We're spiritual but not religious”. It was a conversation opener. Unfortunately it was also a bait and switch tactic to lure you into their 'religion'.
Maybe we should ask the questions, ”What does it mean to be spiritual”? and ”What does it mean to be religious”? What is really at the core of these ideas?
I think religion is about fear.
Fear of pain.
Fear of misery.
Fear of suffering.
Fear of death.
Religion is about control. Attempting to control these fears, or our attempts at gaining control over others through use of these fears.
Religion without fear is tradition. I don't see tradition as harmful.
I think spirituality is about compassion. What Karen Armstrong says is ”that universal principle of empathy and respect at the core of all major religions”; the reason why Yeshua said his yoke was light (Matthew 11:30).
I think spirituality should accomplish solace for the individual and install compassion towards others.
It isn't difficult for me to imagine what spirituality might look like without religiosity. But it is incredibly difficult for me to imagine what spirituality would look like without compassion. I suppose it would be little more than spiritual masturbation. Maybe that's what religion is. Just another addiction. Porn for the soul.