20 Intriguing Interfaith Marriage Statistics

Having a marriage that combines two different faiths can come with many blessings, but many challenges as well. When Easter, Passover, Christmas, and Hanukkah are all celebrated, families may come together more or they make have extra moments of awkwardness. Some see interfaith marriages as a sign of societal progress. Others just see problems.

The least likely faith to marry a spouse that comes from a different faith are the Mormons.

Interfaith Marriage

Many might guess that Muslims are the least likely to marry someone from a different faith, but they actually fall somewhere in the middle. Jews are actually the most likely to marry outside of their faith. An interesting trend, however, is that as the older someone gets, the more likely they are to commit to an interfaith union.

  • About one-third of all evangelical marriages end up in a divorce. When an evangelical marries an non-evangelical, the divorce rate climbs to 50%.
  • 61% of evangelicals who marry someone that is not religious will find themselves divorced at some point.
  • Catholics in interfaith marriages were no more likely to divorce than those married to other Catholics.
  • Although many faiths can’t agree on anything, they all surprisingly agree that the idea of an interfaith marriage is a bad idea.
  • Two thirds of those between the ages of 36-45 were in an interfaith marriage, while about half of all marriages are interfaith no matter what the age happens to be.
  • 80% of those who are in an interfaith marriage believe that having similar values is more important than having a similar faith.

“We have an appalling number of evangelical pastors who will not preach and teach on the issue of interfaith marriage, but who will perform marriages for anyone who comes in.” Those are the words that Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention told the New York Times in 2013. Why are religious leaders so adamant against interfaith marriages? Probably because they result in lower attendances at church. When one spouse is being completely condemned because of their faith, even when it is just a different denomination, then who wants to be part of that community? The expression of values in interfaith couples is truly telling. They aren’t looking at the religion. They are looking at the person – and isn’t that what religion is supposed to be about anyway?

What Happens In An Interfaith Marriage?

  • Kids in an interfaith marriage are twice as likely to be brought up in the mother’s faith than the father’s faith.
  • In the West, interfaith marriages are mostly welcomed. In the East, they can lead to violence, honor killings, and a number of other anguishing consequences.
  • American Muslims have the highest rate of interfaith marriages than any other Islamic community.
  • 45% of the marriages that currently exist in the United States, as of 2010, where interfaith marriages.
  • When one spouse is more religiously active than the other, then there is a higher level of marriage dissatisfaction that occurs.
  • The risks of divorce increase for an interfaith marriage when a husband attends services more frequently or when a wife has a more conservative religious outlook.
  • The United Nations believes that there are over 5,000 religious honor killings each year because of interfaith marriages.

In the United States, there is an ingrained culture that encourages the pursuit of happiness – including love. Many Western cultures embrace this philosophy as well. As for the rest of the world, there is some surprising movements toward interfaith marriages. In Iran, for example, if two denominations of Islam come together for a marriage, the government is willing to award them a financial stipend. The same is true in India for their primary religious sects and in other parts of the world. Even with these incentives, however, the fear is that honor killing may occur. The UN may estimate 5,000 murders, but many believe that the number is actually 4 times greater than that estimate. No amount of money is worth a life, but unfortunately that seems to be what many cultures still hold to in regards in interfaith marriages.

Is Cohabiting A Better Option For Interfaith Couples?

  • 73% of American Jews who are in a relationship with someone from a different faith were choosing to cohabitate instead of get married.
  • About 20% of Muslims will eventually choose to have an interfaith marriage, even though it is considered forbidden.
  • 25% of married couples who begin as interfaith couples will actually become same faith marriages.
  • Marrying someone of another faith makes you more likely to have a positive impression of that faith as a whole.
  • Mormons actually have the highest level of satisfaction in interfaith marriages than any other religion. Why? Because they have the highest hopes of converting their spouse to the Mormon faith.
  • Divorce rates among born-again Christians are 27% higher than for other Christian faith groups.

Some of the older data on interfaith marriages shows that at the 5 year mark, a majority of them are still going strong. From 1993 data, the couple at most risk of a divorce was a Christian married to a Jew, at 40%. Considering the higher risks of born-again Christians that is automatically present, that isn’t necessarily surprising. The problem is that one person tends to bury their faith so that their spouse can have their own faith be a prominent part of their life. Eventually this leads to stress and that stress ends up decaying the foundation of the marriage. That leaves couples with three options: incorporate all components of both religions, convert to the spouse’s religion, or get divorced. For all religions, however, some fresh thinking needs to occur in regards to marriage. To ban love because of religion isn’t the mark of someone who is mature.

Interfaith Marriages Around the Globe