Divorce has hurt the growth of religion in America



This post isn’t necessarily about me. I’ve been divorced twice, but my agnosticism predates my first marriage. My daughter from my second marriage and my four step-daughters from my first marriage were not encouraged to attend church. But neither were they actively discouraged.

The point to be made here is about a new study from the Public Religion Research Institute showing that not only have divorce rates increased sharply  in recent decades, but the children of divorced parents are more likely to be non-religious.

The Washington Post says this about the matter:

[E]ven children of divorced parents who are religious are less religious than their peers. Thirty-one percent of them go to services every week, compared with 43 percent of religious people whose parents were married when they were growing up.

The Post interviewed Andrew Root, a professor at Luther Seminary and author of a book about the spiritual consequences of divorce for children, who said this:

Everything in a divorce gets divided. Literally everything. Parents’ friends get divided. Relatives get divided. Everyone takes sides. Even religion takes sides. The church gets divided. Dad leaves Mom’s faith, or vice versa. Negotiating those worlds becomes difficult.

Root said churches are not doing enough to speak directly to the concerns of children in those situations, so the kids lose faith in the ability of the church to help them. He said that when the divorce rate climbed in the 1980s, many members of the clergy, especially mainline Protestant pastors, stopped speaking out against divorce so as not to alienate struggling congregants. But by going silent on the subject, they didn’t offer any comfort to the kids.

Of course, the problems arising from divorce aren’t the only challenges facing religion in America these days. But some churches and denominations still manage to survive or even thrive.

And there still are plenty of children of divorced parents who attend church regularly and/or attend religious schools. Not as many as there would be were it not for divorce, but still…

The Washington Post story is HERE.