Born-Agains No More Immune to Divorce Than Others -1/23/02

Smartmarriages ® cmfce at
Fri Jan 25 16:07:50 EST 2002

subject: Born-Again Christians No More Immune to Divorce Than Others -1/02

from: Smart Marriages,,PTID74088|CHID1943
Born-Again Christians No More Immune to Divorce Than Others

By John Rossomando
 CNS Staff Writer January 23, 2002 - Born-again Christians are just as likely to get divorced
as anybody else in American society, and the vast majority of those
identifying themselves as divorced and born-again actually got their
divorces after converting to Christianity, according to a new book called
The Divorce Reality.

"In the churches, people have a superstitious view that Christianity will
keep them from divorce, but they are subject to the same problems as
everyone else, and they include a lack of relationship skills," said Donald
Hughes, author of The Divorce Reality and editor of the Web
site. "Just being born again is not a rabbit's foot," he said.

Hughes says the divorce statistics referred to in his book come from a 2001
Barna Research Poll, which indicated that 33 percent of born-again
Christians end their marriages in divorce, roughly the same as the general
population, and that 90 percent of those divorces happen AFTER the
conversion to Christianity. Hughes maintains born-again Christians try to
foster a public perception that they do not get divorces because of their
born-again status.

The Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's largest Evangelical Protestant
denomination, acknowledges the crisis families face in contemporary culture,
but disputes the Barna poll's conclusions. Dr. Tom Ellis, chairman of the
denomination's Council on the Family said the poll fails to account for the
fact that many people call themselves born-again without having made a full
commitment to God.

"Since the bulk of our nation considers itself Christian, I would not be
surprised with the similarities between the ratios of the nation at large
and the ratios among those who would call themselves Christians," Ellis
said. "What we have discovered, however, is this: born-again Christian
couples who marry ... in the church after having received premarital
counseling ... and attend church regularly and pray daily together, that the
divorce rate is approximately one divorce out of nearly 39,000.

"We believe that there is something more to being a Christian," Ellis said.
"Just saying you are Christian is not going to guarantee that your marriage
is going to stay together."

Barna Research stands behind the reliability of its poll, although Project
Director Meg Flammang said her firm did not originally set out to determine
the divorce rate among born-again Christians.

"The purpose of the poll was not to go out there and just test divorce
rates," Flammang said. "It was just a national public opinion poll, and in
there, we asked a series of demographic questions, one of which was current
marital status as well as if the person had ever been divorced."

Flammang said she and her colleagues then compared divorce rates between
survey participants who were and were not born-again Christians. Barna
Research defines born- again Christians as, "individuals who stated a
personal commitment to Christ, having confessed their sins, embracing Christ
as their savior, and believing that they have received eternal salvation
because of their faith in Christ alone."

She said most people become born-again during their high school years, and
consequently, "a lot of the divorces happened when these people had [become]
born-again Christians."

The data is consistent with earlier Barna findings about the actions of
born-again Christians, according to Flammang.

"We have found that in a lot of ways Christians are not living different
lives than non-Christians, when we look at their behavior," Flammang said.
"It's hard for Christians to understand because it seems contrary to what
people think would happen."

Barna Research claims it is only interested in reporting facts and not in
making born-again believers look bad.

"We would love to be able to report that Christians are living very distinct
lives and impacting the community, but ... in the area of divorce rates they
continue to be the same," Flammang said.

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