Evangelicals and high divorce rate

I have read many articles from secular sources that claim evangelicals have the highest divorce rate in the country for any religious group. I started thinking about this because of Russell Wilson’s divorce and comparing it to the craziness of Brett Farve and how his wife stuck with him (Wilson is an Evangelical, the Farve’s are Catholic).

I have also made the following observation at my families Easter
At Easter all the evangelicals in my extended family are divorced and remarried all the catholics or atheist are on their only marriage

Any thoughts

My hunch is that you have to also look at demographics and culture when you compare the various Christian communions.

Do evangelicals tend to have more/less education? money? job security?

Do liturgical churches attract a different demographic?

There’s a bunch of underlying societal issues that you’d probably have to account for before you could make a bold statement about the divorce rates.


Let me also add, that if I had to point to anything worthwhile - I would say the Evanglical Christian experience has a large component of ‘emotion’ in the conversion to christ that may be lacking. If that emotion carries over to other aspects of life, it could be a indication that marriage for some evangelicals is an expression of emotional love.

In my communion, marriage is a expression of two people becoming one flesh before God - and almost in spite of the emotion - with the understand that eventually not having strong emotional feelings of love is to be expected.

Professor Bradley Wright, a sociologist at the University of Connecticut, explains from his analysis of people who identify as Christians but rarely attend church, that 60 percent of these have been divorced. Of those who attend church regularly, 38 percent have been divorced

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.

Take a look at the chart here too:


I would want to see the actual statistics before commenting on it.

My first thought is to never take statistics at face value. You need to be aware of the methods the researchers are using to reach these conclusions.

Usually, surveys ask people if are they “evangelical” or “born again Christians.” They may even ask the person’s race. In America, many pollsters don’t count conservative black Protestants as evangelical Christians because politically they align with the Democratic Party.

Of course, the problem with asking if someone is “evangelical” or “born again” is that the pollsters don’t actually no if the people they survey are currently even attending church. Is “evangelical” or “born again” religion simply their default religion? How often do they pray? How often do they read their Bibles? How often do they attend church? Have they ever even had a conversion experience (i.e. a new birth)?

For all the researchers know, many of these people are functional pagans whose grandma used to take them to the First Baptist Church when they were in Kindergarten.

The essential determination that needs to be made is if people being polled are committed evangelicals or cultural evangelicals.

It’s the same problem with not distinguishing between lapsed Catholics and observant Catholics. It makes the picture look much worse.

I guess all these surveys info was backed up at Easter by seeing my family

What survey info? You haven’t shown us any data that can actually be broken down and analyzed. You simply stated that you read secular sources claiming high rates of divorce among evangelicals. You then say you think this is proven by your own family members. That’s not a great foundation to arrive at accurate conclusions.

As the chart in the link given by dronald shows, active conservative Protestants are 35% less likely to divorce than non-religious people. Active Catholics are only 31% less likely, but the difference is close enough to show that there is very little difference among Christians with traditional values.


I can find 100’s of surveys that say conservative protestants have the highest divorce rate

This is from the article you linked to:

The findings are not as straightforward as saying “conservative Protestants are causing trouble for other people’s marriages,” said Charles Stokes, a sociology professor at Samford University, who conducted a separate study on Americans who, on average, got married at a younger age.

In his own research, Stokes found that conservative Protestants who attend church regularly are significantly less likely to have gotten divorced than nonreligious peers.

“The pattern that pops out in this data is that when you look at those who attend church weekly, their divorce rates are the same as other high-attending Christians,” Stokes said. “Nominal Christians are probably getting the community norms but aren’t in a social structure to live the norms out.”

So, once again, the message is that nominal evangelicals have high divorce rates. Practicing evangelicals are less likely to divorce.

To summarize: In areas with high numbers of evangelicals, non-religious people adhere to cultural norms surrounding marriage (such as marrying early) but are not part of church groups that offer them support. This contributes to high levels of divorce in predominantly evangelical regions of the country, even though among regular church-going evangelicals divorce rates are lower.

That proves one thing. You should either be a Catholic or an atheist.


Far fewer atheists marry than the religious, therefore those who do are more mature (IMO) and committed to marriage than atheists who simply live together.

So basically you are seeing selection effects here.

In my communion, marriage is a expression of two people becoming one flesh before God - and almost in spite of the emotion - with the understand that eventually not having strong emotional feelings of love is to be expected.

I’ve been married almost twenty years. I have found my emotional feelings of love becoming stronger and deeper and more continuous the longer I have been married.

I think sometimes people mistake infatuation for genuine love (not pointing any fingers your way though!)

I don’t have any Evangelicals in my family, but the divorce rate among the Catholic branch of the family is MUCH higher than among the Calvinists. Though the matriarch of the Catholic branch of the family, my Great-great Aunt, was a tremendous witness of her faith. She divorced her abusive husband, never remarried, and he left everything to her when he died. They are buried together in her home town.

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