Arts and Culture

The Christian Divorce Rate

Author Amy K. Hall Published on 09/27/2012

We hear all the time that Christians divorce as often as everyone else, but it turns out this isn’t exactly true:

People who seriously practice a traditional religious faith—whether Christian or other—have a divorce rate markedly lower than the general population.

The factor making the most difference is religious commitment and practice.

What appears intuitive is true. Couples who regularly practice any combination of serious religious behaviors and attitudes—attend church nearly every week, read their bibles and spiritual materials regularly; pray privately and together; generally take their faith seriously, living not as perfect disciples, but serious disciples—enjoy significantly lower divorce rates than mere church members, the general public, and unbelievers….

W. Bradford Wilcox, a leading sociologist at the University of Virginia and director of the National Marriage Project, finds from his own analysis that “active conservative Protestants” who regularly attend church are 35 percent less likely to divorce compared to those who have no affiliation. Nominally attending conservative Protestants are 20 percent more likely to divorce, compared to secular Americans.

This holds true for religions other than Christianity, as well (as this chart from Wilcox’s study shows).

Before you ask—no, this doesn’t prove anything about Christianity. But truth and accuracy are important, and I’ve heard the misleading Christian divorce statistic (the one that includes everyone who identifies as Christian, regardless of their practice) used by both Christians and non-Christians to make points, so I wanted to help clear up the misconception on this one.