News of Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise's divorce has renewed public interest in a long-debated question: Are married couples who practice different religions more likely to divorce?
According to an article published by USA Today, the answer is yes. While it is unclear whether Holmes' Catholic upbringing and Cruise's Scientologist beliefs contributed to the Hollywood couple's split, interfaith couples do appear to come into conflict more often than those that share the same religion.
Virginia is predominately Christian, with Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism much less common. While this means that interfaith marriages are relatively rare in the state, even differences between Christian denominations, such as Baptism and Catholicism, can lead to conflict and ultimately divorce.
The USA Today piece cites data from the American Religious Identification Survey, which recorded the religion and marital history of each respondent, also asking for the religious backgrounds of their previous partners. The research is from 2001, but reportedly represents the only available information regarding interfaith marriage. At the time, about 22 percent of married couples in the United States described themselves as interfaith. In 2007, another survey found that about 27 percent of Americans were in interfaith relationships. That survey did not include data regarding respondents' divorce histories.
Although the information found therein may be out of date, the American Religious Identification Survey showed that families with children are three times more likely to undergo divorce when the parents practice different religions. The survey also found that about 3 percent of parents of the same faith are divorced, compared with 10 percent of individuals who had children with someone with different religious views than themselves.
According to one relationship counselor, interfaith marriages are more likely to end in divorce when one spouse identifies particularly strongly with his or her faith. In such cases, these individuals may "feel personally attacked and misunderstood when their partner critiques their beliefs or advocates for their own beliefs." He went on to explain that interfaith couples most frequently encounter difficulty when they disagree regarding the religious upbringing of their children.
Source: USA Today (Faith and Reason), "Interfaith couples, such as TomKat, more likely to divorce," Cathy Lynn Grossman, June 6, 2012