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Do Conservative Christians Divorce More?

Sometimes the most surprising statistics come from the most unsuspected places. A recent survey from the University of Iowa found the divorce rate among conservative Christians to be unusually high. Family attorneys in Pasadena were surprised to hear this little tidbit, since conservative Christians are usually the ones most likely to champion the sanctity of marriage. Not as surprising, the study also found divorce to be exceptionally high among younger couples.

Jennifer Glass, a sociology professor at the University of Iowa, presented the findings of her study last week at the University of Texas at Austin last week.

"Politically- and religiously-conservative states, especially in the Deep South, exhibit higher divorce rates than politically- and religiously-liberal states in the Northeast and Midwest," Glass said.

Glass believes the phenomenon can be attributed to the early marriages that young conservative Christians practice. (The average age of American women getting married is 27 while the average age in conservative Christians is 24, Glass noted.) The very beliefs conservatives have, like prohibiting sex before marriage and not believing in abortion, could be the ideas that lead to earlier trips down the aisle - and to more frequent divorce court visits. "Shotgun" weddings - unions among younger couples - are highly prevalent in conservative states. Younger couples, regardless of religious beliefs, are found to divorce more due to issues like financial problems caused by lack of education and increased unemployment, Glass says.

Glass believes the ideals of religious communities affect the marrying practices of not only church members but of others exposed to it. Societal pressure like watching their friends marry at young ages causes young women to marry earlier, the study noted.

"You've got a local religious culture that involves everyone - whether they share that religion or not - to behave in particular ways," Glass said.

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