Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Religion versus Family Values?

A study from the Barna Research Group, based on interviews with 3,854 adults in the lower 48 states, with a margin of error of 1 or 2%, finds the following:

Variation in divorce rates by religion:
Religion % have been divorced
Jews 30%
Born-again Christians 27%
Other Christians 24%
Atheists, Agnostics 21%

As an atheist who has been married to the same fellow-unbeliever for 29 years, I shouldn't be surprized at this, but I am. Like everyone else, I tend to believe what I am told, rather than what I see with my own eyes. I'll have to work on that...

By the way, notice what some church leaders are saying about this study: flat declarations that they will not believe it. In other words, for some people, the idea that religion has a positive effect on moral behavior ... is itself a religious tenet, insulated from scientific evidence.


Em said...

I wonder how many of those divorces were caused by one partner "moving away from the faith", as they say. It would explain (other things being equal), somewhat, why the divoce rates for the religious are much higher, since athiests have no faith to lose...

Lester Hunt said...


But why assume that this process can only go in one direction. Once an agnostic, always an agnostic?

Actaully, I should say that the title of my post was facetious. I don't really think that religion makes a marriage less stable.

Probably the truth of the matter is that there are other factors involved that have a stronger effect on behavior than moral or religious conviction does. Atheists and agnostics tend to be from a different social and economic section of society from born-again Christians, and these other folk probably wait longer and marry later. In my experience, the older you are when you marry, the more likely you are to stay married! Religion probably is less important. But of course this is a guess.

Lester Hunt said...


Sorry I got you name wrong in my last post. I must be reading-impaired.