“Until death do you part?”
Sacramental nature of marriage all but forgotten in US, among Catholics, nearly 1 in 3 “indissoluble bonds” end in divorce
APRIL 18, 2008 (http://calcatholic.com) - “There no longer seems to be much of a stigma attached to divorce; it is now seen as an unavoidable rite of passage,” concluded researcher George Barna in a recently published report.
The March 31 Barna Update report details a study by the Ventura-based Barna Group on the rates of marriage and divorce in the United States. The study was conducted from January 2007 to January 2008 with telephone interviews of 5017 adults, 18 years and older. The study’s maximum margin of error is ±1.6 percentage points, with a “confidence level” of 95%.
The study found that, among those surveyed, 78% have been married at least once. “Born again” Christians had the highest level of marriages, at 84%. The proportion of those belonging to non-Christian faiths and agnostics who have been married at least once is 74% and 65% respectively.
But if the marriage rate is relatively high, so is the divorce rate, said the study. Over all, said the study, among adults who have been married, 33% have been divorced at least once. This means, says the Barna Group, that “among all Americans 18 years of age or older, whether they have been married or not, 25% have gone through a marital split.”
Americans who have the highest rates of divorce, according to the study, are “downscale” adults (those who have not attended college and are earning less than $20,000 a year) at 39%; Baby Boomers (38%); non-Christian religious believers (38%); African-Americans (36%); and “people who consider themselves to be liberal on social and political matters” (37%).
Those with the lowest divorce rates are Catholics (28%); evangelicals (26%); upscale adults (college graduates earning $75,000 or more a year), at 22%; Asians (20%); and those calling themselves “conservative on social and political matters” (28%). Hispanics have a divorce rate of 31%, according to the Barna study.
The combined divorce rate for what Barna calls “evangelicals and non-evangelical born again Christians” is 32% -- nearly the same as the national average. Barna, however, did not determine whether the divorces for this group occurred before or after religious conversion.
The divorce rate for atheists and agnostics is 30%, according to Barna. These groups also have lower rates of marriage and higher rates of cohabitation -- “behaviors,” said the Barna Update, “that distort comparisons with other segments.”
"Interviews with young adults suggest that they want their initial marriage to last, but are not particularly optimistic about that possibility,” researcher George Barna said in the Update. “There is also evidence that many young people are moving toward embracing the idea of serial marriage, in which a person gets married two or three times, seeking a different partner for each phase of their adult life."
(By providing “primary research,” as well as through its BarnaBooks and BarnaFilms and other services, the Barna Group says its purpose is “to partner with Christian ministries and individuals to be a catalyst in moral and spiritual transformation in the United States.”)