Divorce rates among Protestant Ministers


I’m wondering if anyone knows of any studies examining the divorce rate among Protestant Ministers.



Coincidentally I had noticed this blurb on the divorce rates of protestant ministers earlier tonight:

A 1997-AUG survey by Barna among 601 senior Protestant pastors revealed that the vast majority are married (95%). Only 13% have ever gone through a divorce. This is about half of the rate among the general population. “Just 3% of all current senior pastors are divorced and have not remarried.”



interesting. Thanks for your post!


That is a survey taken 10 years ago …We need a new survey… Trust me, I think the end result would be different.


Not only that but it was of “senior pastors” - those who have passed the test of time as a Pastor as well as in Marriage. In other words, they would not have been “called” by a congregation if they had been divorced thus ending their careers earlier as Pastors (you know, no congregation wants you as their pastor so you can’t be one and must find a different line of work:p.)

Brenda V.


Divorce unfortunately is everywhere. Even among the Catholics, I would love to know that statistic.


Believe me, you can find certain rates of immorality among any group whether Protestant or Catholic. For Protestants maybe there is a high divorce rate…among Catholics you would find the same thing…a high rate of Protestants use birth control…same with the Catholics…the list could go on and on.

For every problem you find with Protestant pastors I am pretty sure you could find moral problems with our priests.


My parish priest about a month ago, discussed this, and said they are ‘the highest group’ of all people who divorce. I found that astounding.


Did you ask him where the figures came from? Only I think he’s being misleading. There are divorces, but remember, Protestants don’t have annulments, and, of the three ministers I know of who’ve had divorces, two would have been eligible for annulments. I also hope any discussion of this would also reflect on the moral failings of all clergy - otherwise it seems the discussion would be not quite living up to the message of Matt 7:5.


I think the context of which he meant it in, from the vantage point of a priest…is to show why Jesus would have instituted the priesthood over having leaders of the Church allow to marry. I think that’s where he was coming from. Just in speaking about divorces…not annulments…regardless, they are not staying together…that was the main point. And, his conveying of this wasn’t saying that he as a clergyman doesn’t have his own problems, and sins…he was more I think comparing the divorce rates of Protestant ministers as a reason why God would have wanted priests…men married to the Church, so to speak.

Hope that clarifies what I was saying…thanks for your reply.


I don’t think the reasoning here makes sense since even Saint Peter was married.


Saint Peter was married but was his wife still alive when he was chosen by Jesus to follow him?


He left her behind. It might have been easier for him/her…had he not been married to begin with. Jesus didn’t ask her to join them during their ministry…I’m assuming she had to be left behind then. I have always thought that interesting, that Jesus did select a married man though.


I thought she was living, but you could be right, Hell!!


We have NO evidence in the Holy Scriptures that indicate she was living. None. His mother in law is mentioned. NO mention of a wife doing anything with Peter, or any one else for that matter. not one mention.
Also, no mention of Peter leaving a wife.:wink:


Yeah…so she could have been living…and maybe not. We just don’t know.


We dont know, and that is why I dont accept bible “evidence” to “defend” married clergy with the case of Peter. It is inconclusive.


oooohhh…Ok I get it now…why you brought that up. Forgive me…I’m a bit slow today.:o lol

That is a good rebuttal though. I will have to remember that,because this comes up a lot with our Protestant friends who disbelieve the need for The Papacy, and the priesthood.


The funny thing is, when a single bible verse is being “tossed” at you by anyone to “defend” their postition, be very WARY.

Most often, the single verse is not being applied using reason and logic in context, it merely boils down to a polemical slinging of verses back and forth and a spiral argument insues. Holy Scriptures, are not to be read “into” but to be read seeking the messages the writer was conveying. (Reading more “outward” IMHO.)


I googled this topic and this is the first thing that popped up: wayoflife.org/fbns/divorcedclergy.htm but it is from 1997 or so…

On another web page from same time frame:
Answer 2 – [from a denominational researcher]
Percent ever-divorced, of those ever-married, from a 1996 Presbyterian Panel (PCUSA) survey:
members, 18%rra.hartsem.edu/images/rraup.gif
elders, 17%
pastors, 20%
specialized clergy, 30%

On another website:
To illustrate the popular rhetoric Pastor Darrin Patrick from The Journey in St. Louis compiled this list of statistics from organizations like Focus on the Family and Barna Research:
• Fifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.
• Fifty percent of pastors’ marriages will end in divorce.
• Eighty percent of pastors and eighty-four percent of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors.
• Fifty percent of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
• Eighty percent of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.
• Seventy percent of pastors constantly fight depression.

Scary huh?

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