Divorce Rates and Religion (denomination and participation level)


Item from the Smart Marriages Archive, reproduced in the Divorce Statistics Collection

[I believe the message quoted below was a posting by Prof. Cary Lantz of the Family Studies Dept. at Liberty University, Lynchburg, Va., in response to the study on Baptists having the highest divorce rate. Others had responded that the statistic on evangelicals and Bible-Belt states having the most divorce actually disappears when you control for education levels and poverty.]

Those of us interested in divorce stats know that everyone slices the data
up idiosyncratically, making it difficult to compare one summary to another.
However, having said that, according to one Gallup report (1) 10% of
Protestants and 10% of Catholics are divorced and (2) 26% of Protestants and
23% of Catholics have been divorced at some point.
And, while I couldn't put my hands on the report right at the moment, Barna
reports that something like 26-27% of Christians identifying themselves as
"born again" have been divorced. (I hope I'm not slaughtering his exact
language too badly.) (However, to reinforce your point made re: Catholics,
Barna also found that -- again from memory, so don't quote me -- something
like 30-35% of those identifying themselves as "born again" felt that Jesus
wasn't totally sinless! This is heresy to historic Christian faith.
My point is not so much theological as it is to affirm your point that
people are endorsing labels on surveys (e.g., "Catholic", "evangelical",
Christian", "born again") which may be fairly meaningless as far as
clarifying their personal beliefs. The labels may be, as you say, "ethnic",
or in the case of the diverse ethnic groups comprising Protestantism, the
labels may represent a "generational" identity. My personal crusade is to
chase down (or do it myself) research which has gone beyond categorization
by these generic labels which seem to be losing their former meaning, to
tease out specific beliefs and "spiritual disciplines" related to mature,
committed faith, which may prove to be better predictors (as far as the
religious variable is concerned) of enduring marriage and/or divorce. A
long sentence, but I hope you catch my drift.
My quest at the moment is to track down a 1980 report which suggested that,
at that time, those who attend church regularly together, pray together
regularly, and read the Bible together regularly have a <1% divorce rate!!
I am planning an updated examination of that alleged report; but first I
need to find the original.
In a related finding, Greeley (1991) reported that only 1% of those who pray
together regularly and report a high quality sexual relationship "think that
divorce is possible" for them. Thus, there is some suggestive evidence that
if we get beyond labels to behaviors (and possibly underlying strongly-held
faith beliefs) we may begin to find some "inoculating" factors againstdivorce.

| Smart Marriages Archive | New Divorce Statistics and Studies Blog | Older Divorce Statistics Collection Archive |