Religious Demographics of Divorce in the United States

January 31, 2024by Adam Sacks

Religious Demographics of Divorce

Divorce is a complex and often emotionally charged subject that touches the lives of many Americans. It is influenced by a variety of factors, including cultural, socioeconomic, and religious aspects. In this blog, we delve into the religious demographics of divorce in the United States, exploring how different faiths perceive and experience divorce.

Divorce rates in the United States have fluctuated over the years, but they remain relatively high compared to some other countries. In 2021, there were a total of 689,308 divorces reported in the 45 U.S. states that track this data. Understanding how religion intersects with these divorce rates can shed light on the unique challenges faced by individuals within specific faith communities. [1]

 

Divorce in the United States According to Religious Beliefs

1. Protestant Christians 51%

2. Catholics 19%

3. Jewish 9%

4. Mormon 7%

5. Muslims 8%

6. Hindus 5%

7. Buddhists 10%

8. Sikhs 6%

9. Jehovah’s Witness 12%

10. Atheists 11%

 

1. Protestant Christians 51%

According to the Pew Study, 74% of Christians identified themselves as Protestant (non-Catholic Christians), and out of a sample of 4,752 individuals, the divorce rate for Protestants was approximately 51%.

However, these were categorized based on Evangelical Protestant, Mainline Protestant, and Historically Black Protestant groups.

In this group, Evangelical Protestants had the highest divorce rate at 28%. Historically Black Protestants, on the other hand, had a lower divorce rate of only 9% according to the study.

Among Protestant Christians, divorce rates tend to be higher compared to some other religious groups. This may be attributed to the diverse landscape of Protestant denominations, which have varying views on marriage and divorce. Some denominations may hold more permissive stances on divorce, while others may emphasize the sanctity and permanence of marriage, making divorces less common. [2]

Protestant Christians 51%

 

2. Catholics 19%

Based on data from the Pew Research Center, the incidence of divorce among Catholics was relatively low, with 19% of the 4,752 individuals surveyed reporting being divorced.

For a more precise analysis of Catholic divorce rates, the Gospel Coalition can provide further insights. The Gospel Coalition observed that there is a notable distinction between individuals who actively practice Catholicism and those who identify as nominally Catholic.

The study found that individuals who identify as nominal Catholics are 5% less likely to divorce compared to those who are non-religious, while actively practicing Catholics in their parishes are 31% less likely to get divorced than non-religious individuals. [2]

Catholicism, with its strong emphasis on the permanence of marriage, historically had lower divorce rates compared to other religious groups. However, in recent years, divorce rates among Catholics have increased, aligning more closely with trends observed in the general population. This may be attributed to changing societal attitudes toward divorce and greater acceptance of divorce within Catholic communities.

 

3. Jewish 9%

According to the most recent available study on divorce statistics among individuals of Jewish faith, approximately 9% of those surveyed have reported being divorced or separated. According to a 2017 article in The Jerusalem Post, the divorce rate among members of the Orthodox Jewish faith has been increasing.

Studies suggest that divorce rates among Jewish individuals in the United States tend to be higher, similar to those observed in the general population. There is diversity within the Jewish community, with variations among different Jewish denominations in terms of their views on divorce and marital dissolution. [3]

 

4. Mormons (Latter-day Saints) 7%

Based on the 2014 Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape Study, 9% of the 661 Mormons surveyed reported being divorced. This relatively low rate may be partly attributed to the emphasis that the LDS church places on the nuclear family unit and the belief that sealed spouses are bound together for eternity, regardless of divorce.

Sealed, married Mormons have a lower divorce rate compared to individuals of other religious identities, according to statistics.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), also known as Mormons, places significant importance on marriage and family. As a result, divorce rates among Mormons are often reported to be lower compared to national averages. This may be attributed to the strong sense of commitment to marriage within the LDS community. [3]

Mormons (Latter-day Saints) 7%

 

5. Muslims 8%

Reliable and recent data on divorce rates among Muslims in the United States is limited. However, studies conducted in other countries suggest that divorce rates may vary depending on cultural factors and the level of religiosity. Islamic teachings emphasize the importance of marriage and discourage divorce, but individual practices can differ. [3]

 

6. Hindus 5%

Information specific to divorce rates among Hindus in the United States is scarce. Cultural practices and regional variations may significantly impact divorce rates within this religious group.

Among the Hindu population, the majority (60%) are married, while only a small percentage (5%) are divorced. [4]

 

7. Buddhists 10%

According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, 10% of the 263 sampled Buddhists in America were found to be divorced.

Similar to Hindus, there is limited data on divorce rates among Buddhists in the United States. Buddhism’s emphasis on personal and spiritual growth may play a role in how divorce is perceived and approached within this community. [3]

Buddhists 10%

 

8. Sikhs 6%

Information on divorce rates among Sikhs in the United States is not widely available. The Sikh community values the sanctity of marriage, and divorce rates may vary based on cultural practices and individual circumstances. [2]

 

9. Jehovah’s Witnesses 9%

Based on the Pew Research Study, 12% of the 244 Jehovah’s Witnesses sampled were divorced. Jehovah’s Witnesses discourage divorce and emphasize the importance of reconciliation within marriage. As a result, their divorce rates tend to be lower compared to national averages. [2]

 

10. Atheists 11%

As these groups do not follow a specific religious doctrine, divorce rates can vary widely within these communities. It must be taken into account that the marriage rate among this group is considerably lower, but the divorce rate of the religious unaffiliated is 11%.

Factors such as personal beliefs, cultural background, and socioeconomic conditions may influence divorce rates among atheists and agnostics. [3]

Atheists 11%

 

Sack & Sacks, an experienced divorce attorney, is here to provide you with expert tips and guidance during this challenging time. With their years of experience and in-depth knowledge of divorce laws, they can help you make informed decisions and protect your rights.

 

Sources:

[1] FastStats. (n.d.). Marriage and Divorce. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/marriage-divorce.htm[2] Cooper, M. (2023, August 15). Breaking Down Divorce Rates by Religion (and What They Tell Us). LoveToKnow. https://www.lovetoknow.com/life/relationships/divorce-statistics-by-religion

[3] Religion in America: U.S. Religious Data, Demographics and Statistics | Pew Research Center. (2022, June 13). Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project. https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/religious-landscape-study/marital-status

[4] Bieber, C. (2023, August 8). Revealing Divorce Statistics In 2023. Forbes Advisor. https://www.forbes.com/advisor/legal/divorce/divorce-statistics/#divorce_rates_by_religion_section

by Adam Sacks

Adam Sacks is lead Family Law Attorney at Law Offices of Sacks & Sacks, P.A. in Jacksonville, Florida. He has a BA in Psychology from 1994, and received his Juris Doctor Degree in 1999 from the Western Michigan University Cooley Law School.

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