POST SCRIPTUM TO ORIGINAL ARTICLE, “ATHEISM AND
article found below was originally written as a response to research
completed by Barna about ten years ago, which helped fuel atheist propaganda
about their supposed high marriage success. In 2008, Barna completed an
enlightening new study which "conclusively" spotlight the fact that atheists
have no reason whatsoever to gloat about any special success in marriage.
“Thirty percent of atheists and agnostics had been married and subsequently
divorced. However, the three-point difference from the national average was
within the range of sampling error, suggesting that their likelihood of
experiencing a dissolved marriage is the same as that of the population
at-large. A representative from Barna also pointed out the
atheists and agnostics have lower rates of marriage and a higher likelihood
of cohabitation, a combination of behaviors that distort comparisons with
As my article below emphasizes, when all relevant factors are taken into
consideration, atheists are not at all superior in their ability to live
successfully as couples; contrariwise,
when both their marriage and cohabitation failure rates are combined, their
so called success in relationships becomes nothing but wishful thinking and
a gigantic illusion.
little else has produced as much euphoria in atheists than Christian
researcher, George Barna's announcement that Born Again and other
Christians have a very high rate of divorce, while atheists have the lowest
rate. Atheist web sites immediately announced the glorious news worldwide. The
divorce rates they published were the following: Jews: 30%; Born Again
Christians: 27%; other Christians: 24% -- atheists
According to some atheists, the main reasons why atheists divorce less are
take marriage more seriously.
cohabit before marriage .
have an equal relationship with their mates.
reject the patriarchal model.
atheist leader, Ron Barrier, spokesperson for American Atheists, was
quoted as follows:
These findings confirm what I have been
saying these last five years. Since Atheist ethics are of a higher caliber
than religious morals, it stands to reason that our families would be
dedicated more to each other than to some invisible monitor in the sky. With
Atheism, women and men are equally responsible for a healthy marriage. There
is no room in Atheist ethics for the type of 'submissive' nonsense preached
by Baptists and other Christian and/or Jewish groups. Atheists reject, and
rightly so, the primitive patriarchal attitudes so prevalent in many
religions with respect to marriage.
Are the views of this and other atheists really valid? Is there more to all
this than what they want us to believe?
start with the actual statistics. Was George Barna quoted correctly? We have
tried to locate the original stats from the Barna site, and this is what we
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.
Yet the survey found that the percentage of atheists
and agnostics who have been married and divorced is 37%
(Emphasis mine) very similar to the numbers for the born again population.
that we are missing something and that, indeed, the 21% mentioned by atheist
sites is what Barna really found, we would like to inform gleeful atheists of the following
crucial facts they need to keep in mind before they get too euphoric:
1. The sample
used by Barna was a bit less than 4000. Atheists and agnostics make up about
10% of the American population (2% being atheists). That means that about
400 of the people sampled were atheists/agnostics
80 being atheists).
This is hardly a sufficient sample to reach any reliable conclusion. In
fact, had the sample proven the opposite, atheists would have laughed the
conclusions to scorn -- and
they would have been right in doing so.
Generalizing about a population of 6 million atheists from a small sample of
eighty people is simply absurd and very far from scientific.
tend to cohabit in large numbers. According to Barna, " Forty-two percent of adults
who associate with a faith other than Christianity had co-habited,
atheists were the most likely to do so (51%).
critical to stress that it is a well known fact that cohabiters experience a
very high number of "breakups" before getting married.
"Millions of people ... believe that cohabitation is a prelude to marriage. And
for many, it is. However, Smock reports that 45% of cohabitations break up
with no marriage. Another 10% continue cohabiting."
did not include this enlightening fact in his research.
Thus, if 21% of atheists divorce after marriage,
and 45 % break up once or more before marriage,
what we have is the
astounding rate of about 66% of atheist couples experiencing "at least" one
break up. If, however, the number is
37%, then we have a shocking figure of 82%. How is that for success in
What needs mentioning is the fact that many atheists
do not cohabit as a prelude to marriage.
They in fact see cohabitation as "equivalent" to any marriage relationship.
Therefore, their cohabitation break ups are to be seen as the end of what
was to be a committed relationship. These break ups were not included in the
Barna research, thus giving an incomplete picture of the true state of
relationships among atheist couples.
It should also be stressed that, unlike what atheist propagandists preach on
the Internet, it is a well established fact that people who live common law
before marriage have a greater, not lesser chance of divorce than
couples who don't live common law. Thus, given the fact that atheists'
cohabitations rates are 51%, it is quite possible that their divorce rates
are actually higher than the 37% mentioned by Barna.
"A study of 3,300 cases based on the
National Survey of Families and Households, (NSFH) found that in marriage,
prior cohabiters “are estimated to have a hazard of dissolution that is
about 46% higher than for noncohabitors” (DeMaris & Rao, 1992). Larry
Bumpass, who has overseen NSFH studies, concurs"
These facts totally shatter atheists' contention
that cohabitation is a good thing, and that it is one of the reasons why
they have a low rate of marital dissolution. The
truth is the very opposite.
and some other major denominations, according to Barna, have a 21% divorce
Furthermore, there are smaller Christian
groups where divorce is probably next to non-existent,
given their strong belief that marriage is a sacred institution not to
be tampered with. Conveniently, atheists don't bother mentioning them.
Research indicates that what correlates highly with marital success is age
at marriage and finances. People who marry young tend to have a greater
probability of divorce. People who experience financial stress have greater
probability of divorce. Baptists, for instance, tend to marry younger that
atheists. They also experience greater financial difficulties, because of
lower educational levels. Therefore, these factors are without doubt
affecting their divorce rates.
5. The appellation "Christian" a Christian does not make. There are great
numbers of people in this world who call themselves "Christians" but have
never internalized the teachings of Jesus Christ. Most, in fact, do not even
know what His teachings really are. Another major problem is the fact that
large numbers of
professing Christians do not even accept a Christian
Among Born Again Christians researcher George Barna found that
only 9% have a Biblical world view.(7) Whatever
the reason, large numbers of Christians do not take seriously Christ's teaching
that marriage is sacred and that divorce is only allowed when sexual immorality takes place.
Although Bible scholars and teachers point
out that Jesus taught that divorce was a sin unless adultery was involved,
few Americans buy that notion. Only one out of every seven adults (15%)
strongly agreed with the statement "when a couple gets divorced without one
of them having committed adultery, they are committing a sin." A similar
percentage (16%) moderately agreed with the statement. The vast majority - 66% - disagreed with the statement, most of them
strongly dismissing the notion.
What we see, therefore, in some professing Christians is a strong disregard for Biblical
teachings, with ensuing marital disasters.
Given the more "flexible" sexual morals of some atheists, it would be safe
to assume that
at least some atheist couples have more "elastic" relationships which actually allow affairs
with other people. Such "alternative" lifestyles are not condemned by
some atheists, given their "tolerant" attitude toward sexuality. Clearly this
would prevent some
couples from splitting up because of out-of-marriage sexual relationships, at least for awhile.
The dark side of this is that it increases their chances of
contracting deadly STD's.
7. Recently the Pew Forum on
Religion and Public Life has published its mammoth study on Religion in
America based on 35, 000 interviews. The results are quite enlightening in
further elucidating the topic of atheism and divorce.
According to the Pew Forum a whopping 37% of atheists never marry
as opposed to 19% of the American
population, 17% of Protestants and 17% of Catholics.(9) How enlightening...
Not only do atheists cohabit and break
up in very large numbers, they also do not marry in very large
are, therefore, no justifiable reasons for atheists to gloat about the Barna
research. The Barna
stats about low atheist divorce rates are an "illusion" that cunning and
skillful atheists propagandists have been parading for years to elevate
The reality is that relationships
among atheists are a vortex of instability with much accompanying turmoil
and mental anguish.
the various relevant factors are taken into consideration, atheists are not
as successful in their relationships as they would like others to believe.
This does not excuse the very high rate of divorce among "some" Christian
groups. Divorce is strongly condemned by the Christian Master, and going
against His will makes evident a superficial and hypocritical form of
Christianity that only serves to give ammunition to the enemies of Jesus
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The Pew Forum on Religion and
(07 September, 2008)
1. The Pew Forum on Religion and
(5 October, 2008).
Christians vs. atheists: Who
really divorces more?
(5 October, 2008).