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One in Four Married Americans Do Not Share Same Religion as Wife, Husband


In this Sunday April 10, 2016 photo, lead pastor Richie Clendenen speaks during a service at the Christian Fellowship Church in Benton, Ky. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Twenty-five percent of married adults in the United States have different religious beliefs than their husband or wife.

That could be a Christian mother and a Jewish father, or a very religious mother and a father who is not religious.

This information comes from the Pew Research Center, an independent research group in Washington, D.C. The center based its findings on a 2014 opinion survey of 35,000 Americans.

Mother Knows Best

Children raised in homes with parents of different religious beliefs were most influenced by their mothers, Pew found.

Forty-eight percent raised in mixed religion homes identified with their mother’s religion, the center reported. Only 28 percent identified with their father’s religion.

Nearly one in four people from a mixed religious home did not identify with either of their parents’ religious beliefs.

How Important is Shared Religious Beliefs?

People surveyed by Pew were asked about how important it was to them to share the same religious beliefs with their spouse.

Forty-four percent said sharing the same religious beliefs is very important to a successful marriage. But that is not as high as the percentages of Americans who found other reasons important, Pew said.

A bigger percentage, over 60 percent, found shared interests, a satisfying sexual relationship and sharing household duties as very important to a successful marriage.

Forty-six percent said having enough money is very important to a successful marriage. That was higher than the percentage who identified shared religious beliefs as very important.

Sixty-two percent of people married to someone of the same religion said this was a very or somewhat important to their decision to marry that person.

Eighty-four percent of people who do not identify with a religion said the religious beliefs of their spouse were not important in their decision to marry.

The center said the number of Americans raised in homes with people who do not share the same religious beliefs is growing.

Pew reported that 39 percent of people who have been married since 2010 have a spouse with different religious beliefs.

Only 19 percent of those who married before 1960 were married to a person of a different religion, Pew said.

The religious make-up of Americans is also changing, according to Pew.

Christianity is still the major religion in the United States. Over 70 percent of people surveyed by Pew described themselves as Christian in 2014. But that is down from 78.4 percent in 2007.

About 1.9 percent of Americans describe themselves as Jewish, up from 1.7 percent in 2007. Muslims make up 0.9 percent of the population, up from 0.4 percent in 2007, Pew said.

Nearly 22.8 percent of Americans said in 2014 that they are not connected to any religion, up from 16.1 percent in 2007. These can be people who do not believe in organized religion, or those who believe in the idea of a God, but not in any one religion.

I’m Bruce Alpert.

Bruce Alpert reported on this story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section and share your views on our Facebook Page. Would you marry someone who has different religious beliefs than you do? Why or why not?

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Words in This Story

spouse - n. someone who is married -- a husband or wife

raise - v. to bring up or rear a child

survey - v. an activity in which many people are asked a question or a series of questions in order to gather information about what most people do or think about something

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