Christians or Non-Christians, Divorce Rate Remains Unchanged

According to a study released by the Barna Group, of Ventura, California, born-again Christians are just as likely to get divorced as adults who are not born-again Christians. The study found that 35 percent of married born-again Christians have been divorced at least once – the same percentage as among married adults who are unbelievers, indicating there is little difference between believers and the unsaved when it comes to divorce.

While explaining the similarity in these divorce trends, Pollster George Barna suggests that many do not marry their partners in the first place, choosing instead to live together out of wedlock, side-stepping marriage -- and divorce --altogether.

Another reason for these similar trends is that few Christians accept the notion that divorce is a sin. In fact, the Barna study found 58 percent of Protestants and 69 percent of Catholics believe divorce without adultery is not a sin. The study also showed 75 percent of non-Christian group and 52 percent of the born again group disagreed with the statement: "When a couple gets divorced without one of them having committed adultery, they are committing a sin."

The percentage difference between these two groups who disagreed with the statement is not significant even though there was expectation that the number for born again Christian who disagreed with the statement would be much lower.

Barna offered these observations, "You can understand why atheists and agnostics might have a high rate of divorce, since they are less likely to believe in concepts such as sin, absolute moral truth, and judgment," he said. "Yet the survey found that the percentage of atheists and agnostics who have been married and divorced is very similar to the numbers for the born-again population."

The researcher also commented, “Given the current growth in the number of atheists and agnostics, and that the younger two generations are predisposed to divorce, we do not anticipate a reversal of the present pattern within the next decade.”

Since 1984, the Barna Research Group has been conducting and analyzing primary research to understand cultural trends related to values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. The website for the group is ( More information regarding the study can be found at