Divorce and Declining Christianity

A recent blog post at Patheos made an important point regarding recent declines in Christianity throughout the United States:

Some will attempt to spin this as a victory for atheists, implying that people are “seeing the light” and the light is exposing the lie that religion really is.  That view, however, is not really supported by other research on what accounts for the flight from religion.  In particular,  research by Elizabeth Marquardt and other research by Ken Pargament shows that divorce and the resulting inability to idealize caregivers is behind a great deal of the move to unbeliefIn order to feel at home in a religious community, two things need to happen.  First, kids need to feel like they have a spiritual home, but children of divorce struggle to do this.  As Marquardt explains it, children of divorce rarely end up going to church consistently, or going to the same church from  week to week.  This means, that rather than being able to use religion as a resource for constructing a coherent story for the meaning and purpose of their lives as many children from intact church-going families do, children of divorce have to go it alone.  They can’t trust their parents or their infrequently visited and divergent church communities to help them make sense of their lives…People raised in this environment struggle to let anyone else offer feedback or guidance.  They learn that they can’t trust the sources they are supposed to be able to trust for guidance and formation.  For these individuals church becomes just one more bunch of hypocritical grown-ups who can’t get their own crap together trying to tell other people how to live their lives.

With new research arguing that the divorce rate has actually increased, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that religiosity has decreased.