Conservative Protestants are at higher risk of divorce, says a new study to be published in the American Journal of Sociology.
Researchers Jennifer Glass, of the University of Texas, and Philip Levchak, of the University of Iowa, say that “most conservatives frown upon divorce, and religious commitment is believed to strengthen marriage.”
However, Glass and Levchak also found that the states with higher concentrations of conservative Protestants had higher divorce rates, notes The Los Angeles Times.
“One of the strongest factors predicting divorce rates (per 1000 married couples) is the concentration of conservative or evangelical Protestants in that county,” the researchers said in a press release.
According to Glass and Levchak, religiously conservative Alabama and Arkansas have the second and third highest divorce rates, but (the more liberal) New Jersey and Massachusetts have two of the lowest divorce rates.
The high divorce rates, according to the researchers, are tied to early marriage and having kids at an early age.
“Starting families earlier tends to stop young adults from pursuing more education and depresses their wages, putting more strain on marriages,” Glass stated.
Glass says conservative Protestant communities encourage early marriage, which contributes to divorce rates.
Conservative protestant leaders such as Albert Mohler and the Christian organization Focus on the Family both encourage early marriage and cite the often debunked sociologist Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas in Austin, who wrote a report a few years ago entitled “The Case for Early Marriage.”