While Christians seem to pride themselves on their marriage values, a new study indicates that it is in fact atheists who may have the healthier relationships with their spouses.
According to a study conducted by the Barna Research Group, divorce rates are higher among “Bible-believing” Baptists and nondenominational Christians. Divorce rates are lower among the more liberal Methodists, and even lower among atheists.
The study surveyed a total of 3,854 people living in different parts of the United States and found that divorce rates were highest among conservative couples.
According to Salon, Christian communities are taught to “embrace surprise pregnancies as gifts from God,” and to refrain from abortion at all costs. Such communities are encouraged to marry young so they will be less likely to participate in premarital sex.
These young marriages often result in financial instability and lower education, both of which contribute to higher divorce rates.
On the other hand, secular couples tend to view marriage and divorce as personal choices. Fewer couples see the need to get married, which results in fewer divorces. Because these couples are likely to be older when they marry, notes Salon, they have fewer babies, and their babies are more likely to be planned.
The most important factor for divorce rates? Money. According to Salon, more partners are looking for someone who is financially secure, and marriage is quickly becoming a “luxury good.” Salon reported that 60 percent of college educated women get married, as compared to 50 percent of women who hold only high school degrees or lower.
“The doctor used to marry the nurse,” says Brad Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia. “Today the doctor marries the doctor.”
The study also notes that people who live in the southern states — often referred to as America’s “Bible belt” — are at a higher risk of divorce than those who live in other parts of the country. People in this region often marry younger, have lower levels of education, and have household incomes below the national poverty lines.
According to the study, the top five states for divorce are Nevada Arkansas, Alabama, Oklahoma and Tennessee. In Nevada, a person can get a “quickie divorce” if they have resided in the state for at least six weeks.