Seeking to highlight a phenomenon that has become so common that it's often overlooked by clergy, a new analysis of data about children of divorce reveals that kids raised in happy, intact marriages are twice as likely to worship later in life than children whose parents divorce amicably.
Researchers say they hope the unprecedented project will awaken pastors to a common oversight contributing to the decline in mainline Christian denominations and religious affiliation in general.
"Mainline [Protestant Christianity] has done very little and has largely trusted that as long as everybody gets along and keeps their conflicts down, things will be OK," said the project's lead author, Elizabeth Marquardt, an American studies professor at Lake Forest College, and is director of the Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values in New York City. "We're really trying to upend that view," she said.
"Children of divorce are on the leading edge of the well-documented spiritual-but-not-religious movement," Marquardt said. "These are potential leaders. As we grapple with more and more people growing up without a married mom and dad, the church can make more sense of that."