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Christian divorce rates disputed

Published: Friday, March 4 2011 7:51 p.m. MST

Statistics for divorce among Mormons are also varied. The Mormon Channel podcast, "Mormon Identity: Episode 20: Emotional Health of Latter-day Saints," had a discussion between Robert Millet and Daniel Judd about divorce. They referred to study in the 1980s that found, for marriages in LDS Temples, the divorce rate was six percent. That six percent rate was not limited to approved "temple divorces," according to Judd. "The six percent I quoted was a combined statistic for LDS men and women, once sealed in the temple who had ever had a civil divorce." He found that "the divorce rate is five times higher for those that marry outside the temple than it is for those who are sealed within."

In the Mormon Channel podcast, Judd said the current rate is about 20 percent for Mormons as a whole.

An article in the 1992 Encyclopedia of Mormonism by Stephen J. Bahr found that: "The divorce rate is lower among Latter-day Saints than among Protestants, 'other,' and 'none,' but higher than among Catholics or Jews … Eighteen percent of Mormons report that they have been separated or divorced, compared with only 11 percent of Catholics and 10 percent of Jews."

But is the rate of broken marriages historically higher across the board? As one commenter pointed out in an online discussion about Stanton's article, marriages used to break up without getting divorces. Spouses would just move away from each other, creating a de facto divorce without actually getting divorced. As divorces became easier, these divorce substitutes became unecessary and the rates climbed.

Regardless of the numbers, however, divorce continues to be a widely discussed topic and one that has serious social consequences. For example, recent articles in the Deseret News found that "Sons of divorced parents are at greater risk of suicidal thoughts," "the recession has both stressed and strengthened marriages," "divorces occur needlessly because couples have not learned skills that can be taught and applied to save marriages," and "As traditional family declines, global concern mounts."

e-mail: mdegroote@desnews.com Twitter: twitter.com/degroote

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