The statistics are undeniable that Christians are just as prone to divorce as non-Christians in the U.S., and that cultural and sociological factors play a more convincing role than God's invisible guidance when it comes to the failures of marriages in the U.S.
DIVORCE AMONG CHRISTIAN LEADERS
Charles Stanley, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, pastor, religious TV personality, was divorced by his wife. The settlement she received depended on her remaining silent concerning her reasons for wanting the divorce.
Ned Graham, son of Billy Graham, was divorced by his wife on the basis of “infidelity, domestic violence, and drug and alcohol abuse.” Ned is head of East Gate Ministries, which distributes Bibles in China, and he continues to be supported in that capacity by his famous father.
Hal Lindsey, who has sold millions of books on "the soon coming end times and return of Jesus" has been divorced multiple times.
Bob Larson, well known Christian pastor and exorcist, is divorced. He trains people to cast out Satan and is an American radio and television evangelist, and pastor of Spiritual Freedom Church in Phoenix, Arizona.
DIVORCE AMONG CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN MUSICIANS
Divorce among Contemporary Christian “artists” is rampant. Just a few of the divorced or separated CCM musicians are Sandi Patty, Deniece Williams, Sheila Walsh, John Talbot, Randy Stonehill, Larry Norman, Tom Howard, Ralph Carmichael, Steve Archer, Amy Grant and Gary Chapman (both Amy and Gary have gotten remarried since their 1997 divorce), Stacy Jones of the rap group Grits, and all of the members of the now disbanded Barnabas. Melody Green, widowed wife of Keith Green (who was killed in a plane crash in 1982), recently divorced her second husband, Andrew Sievright.
DIVORCE AMONG CHARISMATICS AND PENTECOSTALS
Divorce is also rampant among Pentecostal-Charismatic leaders. Aimee Semple McPherson, founder of the Four Square Pentecostal Churches, was a divorced adulteress, as was famous Pentecostal evangelist Kathryn Kuhlmann.
Richard Roberts, who is in the process of taking over the ministry of his father, Oral, divorced his first wife and married an Oral Roberts University student.
Jim and Tammy Bakker (of the PTL Club) divorced.
Jimmy Swaggart paid a prostitute on multiple occasions to give him a private strip show and even asked her if she would take money to have her daughter strip for him. The woman declined the second offer.
In July 2007 two well-known Charismatic pastors got divorces (Ray McCauley of Johannesburg, South Africa, and Clarence McClendon of Los Angeles).
John Jacobs, founder of the Power Team, was divorced from his wife of 16 years this summer.
Reverends Randy and Paula White divorced. Members of their church, Without Walls International Church, reacted with tears and a chorus of "Oh, no" after the founders and co-pastors of what has been one of the nation's biggest and fastest-growing churches announced the divorce at Thursday night's service. SOURCE Later we read... Megachurch Pastor Paula White Weds Rocker Jonathan Cain in Third Marriage.
Gospel singer Juanita Bynum filed for divorce after her pastor husband beat her outside a hotel... Police say that during an argument Weeks choked Bynum, pushed her to the ground and started to kick and stomp on her. A hotel employee intervened and pulled Weeks off her, police said... Weeks, faced charges of aggravated assault and terroristic threats following the confrontation, which police say left his estranged wife badly bruised. Juanita's ministry blossomed after she preached at a singles event about breaking free of sexual promiscuity. Among her books are No More Sheets: The Truth About Sex, and Matters of the Heart. Her album A Piece of My Passion, had been listed in the top 10 gospel albums by Billboard magazine for several months. She also preaches through televised sermons. The couple married in 2002 in a televised wedding. Together, they wrote "Teach Me How to Love You: The Beginnings." Today they are divorced. And in July of 2012 Juanita Bynum confessed during a radio show interview that she had had lesbian encounters in the past. “I’ve been there and I’ve done it all. I did the drugs, I’ve been with men, I’ve been with women. All of it,” she said July 13 on the Atlanta-based radio show. SOURCE
Benny Hinn divorced his wife due to her drug problem involving prescription pills, later remarrying her.
DIVORCE AMONG FUNDAMENTAL BAPTISTS
Pastor Peter Ruckman of Pensacola, Florida, is twice divorced and thrice married. He has written a booklet to justify his position.
Pastor Jack Hyles has counseled divorced men to go into the pastorate and has encouraged others to stay in the pastorate after their divorces. Hyles calls adultery a “mistake”; and in his sermon “The Good Man Versus the Spiritual Man” (Dec. 20, 1987) Hyles said that the only difference between those who commit adultery and those who do not is that in the latter the sin of adultery is “in remission.”
SEE ALSO THIS article about divorce being rampant among Christian leaders
And the site Pimp Preacher with its top 20 scandals
1999 SURVEY RESULTS
Baptists are more likely than members of any other Christian denomination to be divorced... according to a national survey by the Barna Research Group... Nationally, 29 percent of all Baptist adults have been divorced, the Barna survey said. The only Christian group with a higher divorce rate are those who attend non-denominational Protestant churches, with a 34 percent divorce rate.Greg Garrison, News staff writer, The Birmingham News, 12/30/1999
Mormons, who emphasize strong families, are near the national average at 24 percent, Barna reported.
Among those who describe themselves as born-again Christians, 27 percent are currently or have previously been divorced, compared to 24 percent among adults who do not describe themselves as born-again.
“While it may be alarming to discover that born-again Christians are more likely than others to experience a divorce, that pattern has been in place for quite some time,” said George Barna, president of Barna Research Group.Alabama, which has more than one million Southern Baptists and a majority of evangelical Protestants in a population of 4.3 million, ranks fourth nationally in divorce rates, according to U.S. government statistics. It ranks behind Nevada, Tennessee and Arkansas among top divorce rates.
The Rev. Stacy Pickering, minister of young married adults and director of counseling at Shades Mountain Baptist Church, said the statistics are skewed because Baptist churches encourage young people to get married--sometimes when they’re not properly prepared--rather than have pre-marital sex or co-habitate.
BORN AGAIN CHRISTIANS JUST AS LIKELY TO DIVORCE AS ARE NON-CHRISTIANS - September 8, 2004
Although many Christian churches attempt to dissuade congregants from getting a divorce, the research confirmed an earlier finding by Barna a decade ago (further confirmed through tracking studies conducted each year since): born again Christians have the same likelihood of divorce as do non-Christians. Among married born again Christians, 35% have experienced a divorce. That figure is identical to the outcome among married adults who are not born again: 35%.www.barna.org
“Born again Christians” were defined in the survey as people who said they have made “a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today” and who also indicated they believe that when they die they will go to Heaven because they had confessed their sins and had accepted Jesus Christ as their savior… Being classified as “born again” was not dependent upon church or denominational affiliation or involvement. [Those who were not “born again” probably included nominal Christians, Christians unsure of their beliefs, guilt-ridden, backslidden Christians, believers in heterodox forms of Christianity who might not describe their beliefs as Barna did, as well as Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, New Agers, Wiccans, agnostics and atheists. In other words, the “hell-bound.” Yet their divorce rates equaled those of the “Born Agains.”--E.T.B.]
The survey showed that the percentages of those who were divorced varied somewhat according to denominational religious affiliations (or lack thereof): Catholics (25%), atheists and agnostics (37%), Protestants (39%). Further subdividing the Protestants into their respective major denominations revealed that Presbyterians had the fewest divorces (28%), and Pentecostals had the most (44%).
George Barna noted that one reason why the divorce statistic among non-Born again adults is not higher is that a larger proportion of that group cohabits, effectively side-stepping marriage--and divorce--altogether. “If the non-born again population were to marry at the same rate as the born again group, it is likely that their divorce statistic would be roughly 38%--marginally higher (>3%) than that among the born again group, but still surprisingly similar in magnitude.”
Barna also noted, “The data suggest that relatively few divorced Christians experienced their divorce before accepting Christ as their savior.” [Does that mean most Christians experienced their divorce after accepting Christ as their savior?--E.T.B.] Research also indicated that a surprising number of Christians experienced divorces both before and after their conversion. Multiple divorces are also unexpectedly common among born again Christians. Barna’s figures show that nearly one-quarter of the married born agains (23%) get divorced two or more times.
According to the Dallas Morning News, a Dallas TX newspaper, the national study "raised eyebrows, sowed confusion, [and] even brought on a little holy anger." This caused George Barna to write a letter to his supporters, saying that he is standing by his data, even though it is upsetting. He said that "We rarely find substantial differences" between the moral behavior of Christians and non-Christians."
Donald Hughes, author of The Divorce Reality, admitted that "[Christians] are subject to the same problems as everyone else, and they include a lack of relationship skills." SOURCE
MORE 2004 SURVEY RESULTS
“BIBLE BELT” HAS NATION’S HIGHEST DIVORCE RATE
The state with the lowest divorce rate in the nation is Massachusetts. At latest count it had a divorce rate of 2.4 per 1,000 population, while the rate for Texas was 4.1. But don’t take the U.S. government’s word for it. Take a look at the findings from the George Barna Research Group.George Barna, a born-again Christian whose company is in Ventura, Calif., found that Massachusetts does indeed have the lowest divorce rate among all 50 states.William V. D’Antonio [Professor emeritus at University of Connecticut and a visiting research professor at Catholic University in Washington, D.C.], “Walking the Walk on Family Values,” The Boston Globe, October 31, 2004
More disturbing was the finding that born-again Christians have among the highest divorce rates.
The Associated Press, using data supplied by the US Census Bureau, found that the highest divorce rates are to be found in the Bible Belt. The AP report stated, “The divorce rates in these conservative states are roughly 50 percent above the national average of 4.2 per thousand people.” The 10 Southern states with some of the highest divorce rates were Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas. By comparison nine states in the Northeast were among those with the lowest divorce rates: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
How to explain these differences? The following factors provide a partial answer:
More couples in the South enter their first marriage at a younger age.
Average household incomes are lower in the South.
Southern states have a lower percentage of Roman Catholics, “a denomination that does not recognize divorce.” Barna’s study showed that 21 percent of Catholics had been divorced, compared with 29 percent of Baptists.
Education. Massachusetts has about the highest rate of education in the country, with 85 percent completing high school. For Texas the rate is 76 percent. One third of Massachusetts’ residents have completed college, compared with 23 percent of Texans, and the other Northeast states are right behind Massachusetts. The liberals from Massachusetts have long prided themselves on their emphasis on education, and it has paid off: People who stay in school longer get married at a later age, when they are more mature, are more likely to secure a better job, and job income increases with each level of formal education. As a result, Massachusetts also leads in per capita and family income while births by teenagers, as a percent of total births, was 7.4 for Massachusetts and 16.1 for Texas. The Northeast corridor, with Massachusetts as the hub, does have one of the highest levels of Catholics per state total. And it is also the case that these are among the states most strongly supportive of the Catholic Church’s teaching on social justice issues such as minimum and living wages and universal healthcare.
ONE BORN AGAIN CHRISTIAN TELLS ANOTHER BORN AGAIN CHRISTIAN THAT THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG ABOUT CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIANITY'S AFFECT ON WOMEN AND THEIR AUTONOMY
Craig Sowder, a Christian blogger and all around nice guy, has written:
Currently work in a secular work environment where I am around plenty of non-Christians. I also went to a public high school and I attended a secular college for a year. So I've been around my fair share of both Christians and non-Christians, and let me tell you that Christian women need to take a few lessons from non-Christian women. The non-Christian women I've been around over the years are not afraid to get into relationships with men and actually arrive at conclusions about men far more quickly than Christian women. Sometimes I don't think Christian women will go out for a cup of coffee with a guy without some kind of sign in the heavens telling them to go for it.Craig says here in no uncertain terms that non-Christian women are much more of what a woman should be: thinking for themselves, and taking responsibility for themselves... he is praising secular women for their autonomy, while lamenting the lack of autonomy in Christian women. Craig has also expressed multiple times in the past that he thinks that Christian women are crazy... SOURCE
CHRISTIANITY & DIVORCE COMPARED WITH THE ANTI-GAY MARRIAGE STANCE OF CHRISTIANS
One of the interesting features of the current efforts by the Christian Right to attack gay marriage is that their rhetoric about saving families doesn’t match their actions. Why not, for example, invest similar attention to something like divorce or spousal abuse? These affect far more people and marriages than gay marriage ever could.
Austin Cline, “Pharisees Gathering Stones”
Half of heterosexual marriages in our society end in divorce. We heterosexuals are doing a lousy job of “defending” marriage. Adultery is a big part of the reason. So if we’re going to rewrite our Constitution to “protect” marriage from sin because it is the “God-ordained bedrock of society,” then I would think that adultery would be a much better target [than homosexuality].
Howard Troxler, columnist, St. PetersburgTimes, November 14, 2004