Divorce Rates & Church Attendance
Many studies have shown the national divorce rate in the U.S. is around 50%, some put it is a bit lower, maybe 48%. Many of those same studies and surveys have also indicated that Christians get divorced just as frequently as everyone else in America, and the claim has often been the subject of media articles pointing to the hypocrisy of pastors preaching that Christians should take their marriages more seriously when the numbers show it doesn’t make a difference.
Despite the claims that church attendance does not improve the risk of divorce for Christians, a report in USA Today cites a sociologist who says the numbers depend on what kind of Christians are being discussed. When University of Connecticut sociologist and author, Bradley Wright looked at divorce statistics for evangelical Christians, he says the numbers show church attendance has a big influence on the overall rate of divorce. Wright pointed to the National Survey of Families and Households and found that Americans who attend religious services at least twice a month were one third less likely to get divorced than those with no religious affiliation whose divorce rate is the same as the national average at around 50%. When Wright looked at the General Social Survey conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, he found that adherents of religions including Christianity have a divorce rate that is 8% lower than the national average at about 42%.
Wright’s recent book, “Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites and Other Lies You’ve Been Told” stress the point that the divorce rates for Christians are not the same as the general population and that being a “committed, faithful believer makes a measurable difference in marriage.” When Wright examined the statistics he found that 60% of evangelical Christians who do not attend church had been divorced or separated and the divorce rate for evangelical Christians who do attend church was only 38%. Wright concludes that the lower numbers mean Christian pastors can preach to their flocks about the value of marriage more effectively and that the idea that Christians are no different from anyone else when it comes to divorce is not true if you consider Christians who attend church regularly. As the overall national divorce rate continues to hover near 50%, it will be interesting to see if Mr. Wright’s hypothesis holds up over the next decade.