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religion and divorce

Posted by on Oct. 26, 2013 at 8:02 PM
  • 52 Replies
Was browsing reddit and thought this was an interesting article. I'm mobile so bear with me if the formatting is nuts.





Divorce Rates for Atheists are Among the Lowest in America
Why Do Conservative Christian Defenders of Marriage Get Divorced More Often?

By Austin Cline, About.com Guide
Conservative Christians of all types, evangelical as well as Catholic, tend to link their conservative brand of their religion with proper moral behavior. By far the most popular context is marriage: they claim that a good, solid marriage is only possible when people acknowledge conservative Christianity's claims about the nature of marriage and gender roles. So why is it that Christian marriages, and especially conservative Christian marriages, end in divorce more often than atheist marriages?

The Barna Research Group, an evangelical Christian organization that does surveys and research to better understand what Christians believe and how they behave, studied divorce rates in America in 1999 and found surprising evidence that divorce is far lower among atheists than among conservative Christians - exactly the opposite of what they were probably expecting.

11% of all American adults are divorced
25% of all American adults have had at least one divorce


27% of born-again Christians have had at least one divorce
24% of all non-born-again Christians have been divorced


21% of atheists have been divorced
21% of Catholics and Lutherans have been divorced
24% of Mormons have been divorced
25% of mainstream Protestants have been divorced
29% of Baptists have been divorced
24% of nondenominational, independent Protestants have been divorced


27% of people in the South and Midwest have been divorced
26% of people in the West have been divorced
19% of people in the Northwest and Northeast have been divorced
The highest divorce rates are in the Bible Belt: "Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama and Oklahoma round out the Top Five in frequency of divorce...the divorce rates in these conservative states are roughly 50 percent above the national average" of 4.2/1000 people. Nine states in the Northeast (Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Maryland) have the lowest divorce rates, averaging just 3.5/1000 people.

Barna isn't the only group to arrive at these numbers. Other researchers have also found that conservative Protestants get divorced more often than other groups, even more often than "mainline" Protestants. The fact that atheists and agnostics divorce less often than other religious groups was, however, surprising to many. Some have simply refused to believe it.

Credit should be given to George Barna, himself a conservative evangelical Christian, for at least trying to face up to these results and what they might mean: "We would love to be able to report that Christians are living very distinct lives and impacting the community, but...in the area of divorce rates they continue to be the same." According to Barna, his data raises "questions regarding the effectiveness of how churches minister to families" and challenge "the idea that churches provide truly practical and life-changing support for marriage."

Born again adults who have been married are just as likely as non-born-again adults who have been married to eventually become divorced. Because the vast majority of born again marriages occurred after the partners had accepted Christ as their savior, it appears that their connection to Christ makes less difference in the durability of people's marriages than many people might expect. Faith has had a limited affect on people's behavior, whether related to moral convictions and practices, relational activities, lifestyle choices or economic practices.
Barna should, however, acknowledge that the divorce rates for conservative Christians are higher than for liberal Christians. He also doesn't take the further step of acknowledging that perhaps conservative Christianity and conservative religion in general are unable to provide a sound basis for marriage - that perhaps there are other, more secular foundations for marriage that conservative Christians are missing. What might they be? Well, an obvious possibility is treating women like fully autonomous equals in the relationship, something which conservative Christianity frequently denies.

The difference in divorce rates is particularly interesting given the fact that the Christians getting divorced in the highest numbers are among the same Christians who are most likely to raise an alarm about the state of marriage in society. They also tend to be the same Christians who want to deny gays the right to marry on the assumption that gay marriage is a "threat" to the institution of marriage. If marriage is in any danger in America, perhaps the threat comes from the unstable marriages of conservative Christians, not the relationships of gays or the marriages of godless atheists.
by on Oct. 26, 2013 at 8:02 PM
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Replies (1-10):
glorytojehovah
by on Oct. 26, 2013 at 8:06 PM
1 mom liked this

Like a few percentage points really matters lol. 

AlekD
by Gold Member on Oct. 26, 2013 at 8:09 PM
2 moms liked this
"What might they be? Well, an obvious possibility is treating women like fully autonomous equals in the relationship, something which conservative Christianity frequently denies"


O_o
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FlowerGirl777
by Bronze Member on Oct. 26, 2013 at 8:35 PM

Interesting. I have read that before, that divorce tends to be lower in the "blue states." There could also be a poverty thing going on too, people with less education are more likely to be divorced, I've read that, too.

mehamil1
by Platinum Member on Oct. 26, 2013 at 8:36 PM

Yeah that was a head scratcher. 

Quoting AlekD:
"What might they be? Well, an obvious possibility is treating women like fully autonomous equals in the relationship, something which conservative Christianity frequently denies"
O_o
beesbad
by Bronze Member on Oct. 26, 2013 at 8:36 PM
3 moms liked this

I've seen this data before and I think it is accurate. But  I don't think its reasonable to assume the reason the divorce rate is higher  for conservative Christians is because of their views on the place of women in society or in a marriage. The women likely share those views.

My guess is that very conservative Christians tend to be rigid and unforgiving. They often seem much more concerned with correcting the actions and beliefs of others than in  their own actions. In a marriage this rigidity and lack of charity and forgiveness is deadly.

FlowerGirl777
by Bronze Member on Oct. 26, 2013 at 8:44 PM

I agree, beesbad. My dad was very conservative, so much he couldn't communicate with his daughters and son. No, he and my mom did not divorce, but his rigidity and judgments, and his worry about the world going to hell in a handbasket didn't exactly make for family bonding. 

momtoscott
by Platinum Member on Oct. 26, 2013 at 8:49 PM
2 moms liked this

I think the statistics might partly reflect that because premarital sex is considered sinful, more Christians get married younger to people who aren't necessarily suited for the long run, thus ending in divorce.  

Anecdotal evidence from my own family is confusing and contradicotry: I am atheist, only outright atheist of three children, and I am the only person in my family to still be married to the first spouse.  But I also waited longer than either of my sibs to marry.  And my husband is divorced.  My parents are divorced, my husband's parents are divorced.  My husband's two sibs are still married and are Christians.  

Its.me.Sam.
by Gold Member on Oct. 26, 2013 at 8:49 PM

there is a very small % difference per these stats.. but i think one reason for successful marriages is that the people get married because they WANT to - not necessarily because they believe they should - because of a child or in order to live together etc. and religious beliefs (not LACK of) is what may push some into marriages that end up failing
 

momtoscott
by Platinum Member on Oct. 26, 2013 at 8:50 PM
1 mom liked this

The conservative Christians I grew up among didn't treat women as equals, and cited Bible verses as the reasons for doing so.  

Quoting AlekD:

"What might they be? Well, an obvious possibility is treating women like fully autonomous equals in the relationship, something which conservative Christianity frequently denies"


O_o


Bookwormy
by Platinum Member on Oct. 26, 2013 at 9:00 PM
I can't help but wonder how other religions stack up. I also can't help but wonder within those religions if there's differences between more and less traditional movements within those faiths, how they stack up as well.
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