Question – Divorce rates by Denomination
[by a denominational researcher]
Has anyone seen any good, recent data about divorce rates by denomination? Someone submitted this question to our Research web site and I have been unable to find a reference. The person said he read that Baptists had the highest percentage and Lutherans and Catholics the lowest.
Answer 1 – [by an academic researcher]
In our fifteen denominational study, we have both present and "ever-divorced" rates of women and men Protestant clergy. Zikmund, Lummis, and Chang, Clergy Women: An Uphill Calling (Westminster/John Knox. 1998, see chart p. 143).
In doing the analysis of divorce trends -- and "ever divorced" is a much better measure of divorce rate than "currently divorced" because remarriage obscures the true divorce rate -- the Southern Baptist clergy had among the lowest ever-divorced rates (17% of the women, 4% of the men), and the American Baptists (19% women, 13% men) and Evan. Lutheran Church in America (19% women, 9% men) were about tied. The highest clergy divorce rate is found among the Unitarian Universalists (47% women, 44% men) with the other denominations in between.
Although as far as I know there are no reliable statistics of lay divorce by denomination, however, the average clergy ever-divorced rate (24% women and 19% men) is comparable to the total lay "ever-divorced" rate most recently reported by the Census (this comparison was provided us by staff at the Associated Press). Or in other words, generally and in most denominations the clergy divorce rate is the same (not double, not half) the lay divorce rate. In those denominations with married clergy where usually or in many parts of this country, divorce spells the end of the pastor's ministry, such as Southern Baptist, the clergy divorce rate is probably lower than the lay divorce rate.
Answer 2 – [from a denominational researcher]
Percent ever-divorced, of those ever-married, from a 1996 Presbyterian Panel (PCUSA) survey: