Does attending church lead to happier relationships?
Researchers and sociologists W. Bradford Wilcox of the University of Virginia and Nicholas Wolfinger of the University of Utah recently released a new book that examines how going to church affects the quality of relationships among African-American and Latino churchgoers.
“By 2050, a majority of Americans will be minorities. Yet scholars know little about faith and family life among non-white Americans,” Wilcox said in a news release from the University of Virginia.
The book, titled "Soul Mates: Religion, Sex, Love, and Marriage Among African Americans and Latinos," presents research revealing that when African-American and Latino couples attend church together it results in stronger relationships and happier family life.
"One big reason so many families of color are thriving is that they tend to be more religious than the average American," Wilcox told the Christian Post. "Our book shows that churches are achieving an important measure of success in fostering lower rates of non-marital childbearing, more marriage, and happier relationships among blacks and Latinos."
One of Wilcox and Wolfinger’s studies found that 56 percent of African-Americans and 68 percent of Latinos believe it is better to be married than to be single, which indicates that these groups already tend to value family and relationships.
The authors also found that 80 percent of Latinos and 78 percent of African-Americans reported being happy in their relationship when both partners attend church. This, however, is also the case with white couples, of which 79 percent reported high quality relationships as the result of church attendance, which seems to suggest that the trend is not exclusive to minorities:
Is faith a family-friendly force for African Americans & Latinos? Yes @jbouie @SingletaryM @DouthatNYT @tonysuarez80 https://t.co/rQOGQCdb55— Brad Wilcox (@Brad Wilcox)1453221827.0
"Soul Mates" also details the influence of religion on men.
“Religious faith makes for better men,” Wilcox said. “Black and Latino men who attend church are more likely to be employed, to steer clear of substance abuse and to avoid incarceration. This men’s effect lends indirect support to higher quality family relationships among black and Latino families.”
In light of their findings, Wilcox and Wolfinger concluded that "shared faith supplies moral, social and spiritual solidarity" and that "religion seems especially important in turning men's hearts and minds toward their wives or partners." It is unclear whether these observations apply exclusively to minority groups.