There have been a number of studies about how divorce may affect children’s schoolwork or behavior—but what about their religious beliefs? A new divorce study on the effect of divorce on religion has found that the children of religious parents may be more likely to leave their place of worship if their parents decide to split.
The study, which was published in the most recent issue of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, found that children with divorcing, religious parents were two times as likely to leave their church as adults than those with parents who stayed together. Although past studies have examined the religious beliefs of children of divorce, this is the first study that focused specifically on families that were religious at the time of the divorce.
Although the study did not take a close look at why the adult children of divorced, religious parents were less likely to belong to a church, researchers pondered the findings. Some wondered whether children might become less likely to believe in God because the divorce cast doubt on their parents’ other teachings. Others believe that children may stray from the church after their parents’ divorce because their parents’ religious marriage failed. Still others think that children of divorced parents may get less of a religious education or upbringing—or that they begin to get different or conflicting religious teachings from their two parents after a divorce.
The study was conducted by lead author Jeremy Ueker at Baylor University.