Born Agains More Likely to Divorce (March 2000)

A new study by the Barna Research Group punctures a hole in the assumption that religion and religious counseling is a panacea for divorce, as proposed by Marriage Savers and Wisconsin Majority Speaker Scott Jensen (see front-page story).

The Christian research group, based in Ventura, California, has found that born-again Christians are more likely to divorce than nonChristians. A total of 3,854 adults from 48 states were interviewed with a 95% confidence level. The study (announced on Dec. 21, 1999) found that 27% of born-again Christians are currently or have been previously divorced, compared to 24% of adults who are not born-agains. Barna notes, “because of the large sample size involved, that difference is statistically significant.” Barna’s news release states: “Surprisingly, the Christian denomination whose adherents have the highest likelihood of getting divorced are Baptists. Nationally, 29% of all Baptist adults have been divorced.

The only Christian group to surpass that level are those associated with nondenominational Protestant churches: 34% of those adults have undergone a divorce. Of the nation’s major Christian groups, Catholics and Lutherans have the lowest percentage of divorced individuals (21%). People who attend mainline Protestant churches, overall, experience divorce on par with the national average (25%).” Among nonChristian groups the levels vary.

Jews, for instance, are among those most likely to divorce (30% have), while atheists and agnostics are below the norm (21%). Mormons, renowned for their emphasis upon strong families, are no different than the national average.

Freedom From Religion Foundation