Right wing Christians have been using their religion as a kind of sledgehammer in political debates, slamming apart the efforts of loving couples who want to get married by saying that their religion’s God does not approve. They oppose equality under the law for same-sex couples, saying the Lord of the Universe is on their side.
The foundation of their claims is Christians know how to make stable families better than everyone else. They say that if everybody else would just follow extremist Christian rules about marriage, we’d all be better off.
Is it true? Do Christians have better marriages than the rest of us? Would we do better if we just listened to them, and all followed their rules?
In order to try to answer these questions, I looked at divorce statistics and the results of the latest American Religious Identification Survey. (As I mentioned last night, the divorce statistics are a few years out of date and not absolutely complete, but they’re the best information we’ve got.) I looked for a pattern to indicate a relationship between religious identification and rate of divorce – and I didn’t find one.
Comparing states where the prevalence of Christianity is relatively high to states where the prevalence of Christianity is relatively low, there doesn’t appear to be much of a difference at all in divorce rates, on the average. The 10 states with the highest rates of Christianity have a divorce rate of a little bit more than 4 per 1,000 inhabitants. The 10 states with the lowest rates of Christianity have a divorce rate of a little bit more than 4 per 1,000 inhabitants.
Rate of Christian religiosity in a state doesn’t seem to have much relationship to the divorce rate in the state. The claim by right wing Christians that their religion holds all the secrets to successful marriage isn’t supported by the facts. So, when we’re discussing marriage policy, why don’t we leave religious opinions out of the matter, and base our deliberations on what actually works?