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alternative measures of church participation.
Over the past several decades, there has been the lingering question as to
whether religion serves as a socially integrative force in a postindustrial society
(Chaves and Gorski 2001; D’Antonio and Aldous 1983; Thomas 1988). The
emphasis has been on whether modernization has weakened the role of religion
and religious institutions in the exercise of social control (D’Antonio 1983;
Hargrove 1983), resulting in increased secularization (Chaves 1994). Other
arguments (Chaves and Gorski 2001) consider whether religious pluralism
enhances or undermines religious vitality. The general conclusion is that religion
remains an important mechanism of social control for persons who are heavily
engaged in its practice. It has yet to be determined, however, whether religion
operates as a means of social control because of the group sanctions imposed by
other believers or as a socializing agent that accompanies religious activity
(Thomas and Cornwall 1990). 340 LARRY C. MULLINS ET AL. The inﬂuence of religion as an integrative force emphasizes the sharedbelief system and common values that surround the ultimate questions of life.
The essential theoretical question for this research centers on this issue: Does the
extent of shared religious afﬁliation within a community serve as a positive,
moderating, and/or integrative inﬂuence on marriage? If so, then it would be
expected that the rate of currently divorced people will be lower where there is
greater identiﬁcation with fewer religious organizations, even after controlling
for other factors known to be associated with divorce. Ellison, Burr, and McCall
(1997) asked a similar question regarding the effects of religious homogeneity
on metropolitan suicide rates. After considering established covariates of suicide,
their analysis revealed that greater levels of religious homogeneity were associated
with lower suicide rates.
Religious Factors Associated with Divorce
What is the direct impact of religious involvement on the rate of the currently
divorced? Research indicates that interfaith marriages are more likely to end
in divorce than intrafaith ones (Heaton and Pratt 1990) and that participation in
religious communities subordinates personal desires while enhancing collective
goals, thus promoting stability (Larson and Goltz 1989). Both partners regularly
attending religious services and claiming a same or similar religious afﬁliation
are key elements in decreasing the likelihood of divorce (Call and Heaton 1997).
Studies of religious homogamy suggest that having a partner with the same or
doctrinally similar religious beliefs increases marital stability.
These ﬁndings are consistent with Durkheim’s (1965) view of religion as
an integrative force in social life. Lehrer and Chiswick (1993) concluded that
while stability was similar across homogeneous unions regardless of denomination, interfaith marriages had much higher probabilities of dissolution by the
ﬁfth year of the marriage. When one of the partners converted to the other’s
religion, the stability was similar to that of the naturally homogeneous couples,
thus lending strong support for the homogeneity argument of the current study.
Similarly, marital happiness is higher among couples who share religious doctrines
and rituals. The larger the disparity between the practices of the couple’s religious
afﬁliations the greater the likelihood of marital unhappiness (Ortega, Whitt, and
Williams 1988). Therefore, a concentrated pool of eligibles is more likely to
result in an intrafaith marriage, which, in turn is less likely to end in divorce.
Researchers have shown that persons claiming no religious afﬁliation have
the highest divorce rates of any group, the rate of divorce is lower for Jews than
Roman Catholics, and the rate for Catholics is lower than that for Protestants
(Brodbar-Nemzer 1986; Glenn and Supancic 1984), though more recent studies
do not ﬁnd the same effects for Catholicism (Lehrer and Chiswick 1993). Among
Protestants, the rate is highest among those generally considered to be the THE IMPACT OF RELIGIOUS HOMOGENEITY 341 more conservative denominations. As early as the 1970s, fundamentalists were
reported as having higher divorce rates than other groups (Coombs and Zumeta
1970). The reasons for this pattern are theoretically intriguing, but beyond the
scope of the current examination. Nonetheless, it appears to be well established
that the degree of formal religious involvement of individuals impacts the
likelihood of being divorced.
Booth, Johnson, Branaman, and Sica (1995) examined several studies
regarding the interface between religion and marital quality. In their discussion,
they summarized conclusions from these studies, several of which are germane
to the current research. Marital quality, for example, as Bo...
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This note was uploaded on 01/27/2014 for the course SOCI 3040 taught by Professor Lauramckinney during the Fall '13 term at Tulane.
- Fall '13