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Divorce Rate of Jehovah's Witnesses
"By applying unselfish love in their marriages, Jehovah's Witnesses achieve stable relationships. In some countries one marriage out of every two or three ends in divorce. But the above-mentioned survey indicated that presently only 4.9 percent of the Witnesses are divorced or separated from their mates."
Jehovah's Witnesses generally believe they have better quality of marriage and an exceptionally low rate of divorce, as seen by comments on the Internet. This feeling is promoted by the Watchtower.
"Indeed, those really willing to learn from Jehovah's Witnesses will discover something. What is that? How Bible truths can dramatically improve the quality of their lives ."Our marriage has never been better than it is now," they say. "We have so much to thank Jehovah for."" Watchtower 1990 May 15 p.21
This article presents research from various countries that show the divorce rate of Jehovah's Witnesses is similar
to the population average, and discusses why the comment in the above box is statistically misleading.
In 1990, the National Survey of Religious Identification (NSRI) was carried out at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. This was followed up by a study replicating the same methodology called the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) 2001. This was a random digit-dialed telephone survey of 50,281 American residential households in the continental U.S.A (48 states). In regards to divorce the statistics were as follows:
Courtesy gc.cuny.edu/faculty/research_studies/aris.pdf as at 13/10/2005
The total percentage of US adults divorced or separated was 9% in both 1990 and 2001. The rate for Jehovah's Witnesses was above
average in 1990 at 11% and below average in 2001 at 6%. The variance from 11% to 6% over such a short time frame is possibly due to
a small Witness sample size, and for the purposes of this article it can be noted that the rate for divorce amongst Jehovah's Witnesses
has fluctuated around the population average.
Follow up studies in 2008 by the Barna group are summarised at barna.org (as of Sep 28th 2009). This provides percentages of "Divorce Among Adults Who Have Been Married". The overall United States average is 33% but only 30% for atheists. The group with the lowest rate of divorce by far were Asians, with a rate of 20%.
"Non-traditional conservative groups such as Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses display no less likelihood of cheating than people with no religious affiliation. "That was a little bit surprising, considering you think of these conservative religious groups as having stricter teachings about sexuality," Burdette says."" (http://halifax.metronews.ca/index.cfm?sid=86808&sc=89 6/12/07)
The following Awake! discusses a survey of German Witnesses that found that 4.9% of German Jehovah's Witnesses have been divorced or separated. This is compared with "one out of every two" worldly marriages. This is a terrible misuse of statistics, inappropriately comparing two unrelated statistics.
"That hate can be replaced with love is illustrated by a survey taken in 1994 of 145,958 of Jehovah's Witnesses in Germany. In some countries one marriage out of every two or three ends in divorce. But the above-mentioned survey indicated that presently only 4.9 percent of the Witnesses are divorced or separated from their mates." Awake 1997 Sep 8 p.11
The above article is a classic example of deceptive use of statistics. The Watchtower compares two unrelated figures - 4.9% of Witnesses are divorced; with 50% of worldly marriages ending in divorce - to make it appear that Witness marriages are significantly more successful than "worldly" marriages. The reality is that only about 5% of the general population is divorced, a figure almost identical to that amongst Witnesses.
"The 51,400 divorces granted in 1998 occurred from the accumulated stock of all marriages contracted over the years and not from the 110,600 marriages registered in the year. For example, in 1998 there were 8.3 million married persons or about 4.1 million married couples. The 51,400 divorces represent about 12.4 divorces out of every 1,000 married couples." (Emphasis added)(http://www.abs.gov.au/Ausstats/abs@.nsf/0/BF1FA897ACBAEA06CA2569DE002139BB?Open October 13 2005)
Divorces per year in Australia may equal 46% of the number of marriages in that year, but it is not 46% of all marriages. In 1998, there were 18 million people in Australia, of which 8.3 million were married. Therefore, the number of divorces in a year represents only 1.24% of those married and 0.57% of the total population. The Witness figure of 4.9% from Germany needs to be compared with the correct figures. Figures from www.abs.gov.au collected in 1998 showed that amongst the Australian population of around 18,000,000 people, 1,000,000 had been divorced. That means that only 5.5% of all Australians have been divorced, quite similar to the 4.9% of German Jehovah's Witnesses.
Paul Grundy 2005 - 2013
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