The debate has been endless whether or not people who adhere to the Christian faith legally terminate marital relations at the same rate as their non-Christian counterparts or whether Christian divorce statistics are a way higher than those people who follow other faiths or who do not believe in any religious denomination whatsoever.
Interestingly, there are also some very interesting theories put forth by some theories, especially those hailing from some kind of a Christian background or the other, that Christians, in fact, have a lower break-off percentage than other faiths and religious sects.
In order to help settle the confusion and feud, we have tried to collect all the Christian divorce statistics from different sources. First, we see a popular survey conducted in 2008 by the Barna Group from Ventura, CA:
Marriage and Divorce Statistics As Compiled by The Barna Group in 2008
The following were the findings that the Barna Group established when it came to marriages and separations among the Christian community. First, the marriage rate:
It was found during the Barna Group’s research that American citizens who refer to themselves as born again Christians have a high marriage rate of 84% among all adult Born Again Christian adults surveyed, as opposed to the 78% of the general adult population of the United States of America who were wedded at least one in their lifetime. Both of these rates were higher than the marriage rates of adults following other faiths, which was only 74%, and those adult individuals who identified themselves as “atheists” or “agnostics” who did not follow any one religion in particular, had the lowest marriage percentage at 65%.
These results point to people following the Christian faith being a major cause for a high marriage rate on the national scale, as it was only Christian marriage statistics (84%) which were higher than the general statistics (78%), without every other faiths and non-faiths below the general marriage rate.
Now for the breakup percentages- The Barna Group calculated that for every three married adult Born Again Christians, at least one of them was divorced, making the rate among married Born Again Christian adults about 33%.
Interestingly enough, the Barna Group also claimed that their survey showed that the same percentage held true when it came to understanding the rates among married adults following faiths other than Christianity, that is 33%, one in every three married adult surveyed.
Strings Attached to the Barna Group’s Surveys?
It should be noted that the Barna group did not claim how many of these marital break-offs occurred before and after the surveyed individuals in question accepted the Christian faith. Even their definition of who qualified as a “born again Christian” remained a little murky as they combined “born again evangelists” and “born again non-evangelists” into one group, to attain the 32% separation rate which is close to the rate amongst the non-Christian faiths (33%). There was also a three point margin error mentioned for the statistics. Also, the divorce statistics women survey were not clearly mentioned.
Many Christian based groups have pointed out the inaccuracies and ambiguity in the results compiled by The Barna Group’s surveys. They have stated that the group’s findings have been incomplete as they do not delve into the particulars of their studies, and instead opt for general, blanket statement. Issues such as the lack of clarification given regarding how many of those individuals separated were actually practicing the faith at the time of split-up, in addition to the lack of specificity given to the definition of “Born Again Christians”, combining the break-off percentages of “born again evangelists” and “born again non-evangelists”, being factors for misleading numbers.
So, there were two separate studies carried out to find out what the Barna Group had glossed over in their own respective studies. The first one was by University of Connecticut sociologist, Professor Bradley Wright, who discovered that among people who identified themselves as Christians, 60 percent of breakups took place exclusively among those who did not attend church weekly. Whereas, among the regular church goers, it was found that 38% of all individuals had legally terminated their marriage. Additional studies also saw that marriages were more stable among Christians once children came into the picture.
Another study on divorce statistics by religion was carried out by University of Virginia sociologist and director of the National Marriage Project, W. Bradford Wilcox, who saw that the people who he described as “active, conservative Protestants” who attended church on a religious basis, were 35 percent less inclined to ending the relationship than those who did not follow any faith or affiliation. Whereas “conservative Protestants” who attended church on an irregular basis, were in fact, 20 percent more likely to quit their marital relation when compared to citizens who did not follow any one particular faith.
And so, judging by these Christian Divorce Statistics, it turns out that though it may have seemed like the percentage of Christians were on par with the percentage of the people among the rest of the American population, studies show that the facts are much more nuanced than that.