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Why do women tend to be more religious than men?

I was having a discussion with a friend of mine, who is on a student visa from a country in the Middle East that is mostly Muslim.  His family is Muslim, but he's discovered that he's atheist.  Not only is it difficult socially, but he faces the death penalty in his country if he's proven to be atheist.

While we were on the subject, we started talking about how difficult it will be for him to find a mate when he finishes school and returns home.  He's afraid that his lack of religious conviction will keep him from finding women to date or to marry.  He doesn't want to marry a woman who's married to her faith.

I told him that it's difficult for atheists to meet people of the opposite sex, here, too.  But then I started thinking about how it must be harder for atheist men to meet atheist women, because men outnumber women in this category.  I wonder why.

In an effort to understand this phenomena, I did a little research via the Internet, and I found this article that throws out some possibilities.  I wonder if it's really because more women really believe in religious dogma, or if it's social pressure that make them feel that they have to put on a religious front.

Of course, in some parts of the world, the pressure to be religious is more than just social, but in parts of the world where it's not, why do you think there are more men who are freethinkers than women?

Answer Question

Asked by jsbenkert at 9:48 PM on Dec. 28, 2012 in Religious Debate

Level 37 (89,331 Credits)
Answers (11)
  • I think it could be, because of the differences in their brains.

    Answer by Diamond2010 at 12:36 PM on Jan. 12, 2013

  • Interesting. I never heard of this before. I am not religious at all but interesting thought though. I guess maybe because for woman it's something to hold on to?

    Answer by Jessplus31979 at 10:25 AM on Dec. 31, 2012

  • Oh and being religious doesn't mean you're not a free thinker, BTW.

    Answer by momto2boys973 at 12:16 AM on Dec. 30, 2012

  • I don't know that it's true. But if it is, I think it really depends on the religion. According to my religion, women are higher up spiritually, more attuned to G-d and closer to Him. This is why we have less commandments to fulfill and we can pray individually, as opposed to men, who need a group of 10 to conduct prayers. So that would be religious explanation according to my religion.
    I don't know if there are any secular definitions out there, I would love to see actual numbers on this, because in my limited experience, this isn't something I've noticed.

    Answer by momto2boys973 at 12:15 AM on Dec. 30, 2012

  • Are they? I have not noticed. But in my area both are equally religious and equally annoying in specific view points. Interesting.

    Answer by frogdawg at 3:44 PM on Dec. 29, 2012

  • I think it's because women are concerned with appearance within the community, especially if it is a particularly religious community, kind of like the Bible Belt. Men might be considered the "head of the house" but it's women who are expected to keep the family together and make sure everyone attends church. We don't want to be that social pariah who doesn't attend church or volunteer for bake sales and the like.

    Answer by SpiritedWitch at 12:28 PM on Dec. 29, 2012

  • I think some of it is that women like to talk about their beliefs more than men do. Men tend not to share as much about themselves.

    Answer by RyansMom001 at 9:16 AM on Dec. 29, 2012

  • I do think they're reaching a bit - they start out fire and brimstone that all major and "most minor" religions have this divide, then have to go on later to say the exact opposite - that Muslim, eastern and their clumsy workaround to avoid saying pagan do not. In other words, the big 2 have this divide, and they're trying to hammer the rest of the world's religions into that same mold to make a point.

    That lends itself to a very disturbing connection between the inherent misogyny in the big 2 (actually the big 3), and the number of ardent women believers they have, while simultaneously precluding any outside factors such as intelligence, genetics, nature/nurture - men aren't leaving religion, they are leaving Judeo-Christianity. While many of them choose the "none" category, they provide no hard numbers to compare the other faiths they're trying so hard to dismiss for the sake of argument.


    Answer by NotPanicking at 12:23 AM on Dec. 29, 2012

  • Funny, I never noticed a serious gender difference. But then again I've known a lot of educated and driven engineering/science women - we kind of buck a lot of trends. And the article makes a lot of good points: Women are more averse to risk - figuring life out on your own without the broad safety net of religion and the religious community is scary and risky. Women are more attuned to social norms and derive the most benefit from conforming (men can get away with being "bad" more than we do and they know it). Women are more vulnerable (especially physically), so it's nice to have something to turn to that minimized the impact of this vulnerability. Women (by nature or nurture) are in general more swayed by our personal experiences than rational arguments. I agree that all of this probably plays a role.

    Answer by Sebbiemama at 10:45 PM on Dec. 28, 2012

  • Well, people are less likely to be religious when they're more educated. In many parts of the world, only men are really allowed to get a decent education.

    Answer by JulieJacobKyle at 9:55 PM on Dec. 28, 2012

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