Americans are increasingly choosing secular wedding ceremonies over religious ones

(Photo: Unsplash/Micheile Henderson)

(CP) Fifty years ago, religious wedding ceremonies were the norm. Most people married someone who shared their faith, and only a small fraction of husbands and wives were in relationships where no one practiced a religion.

This trend, according to the latest US National Survey of Family Life, is now on the decline, as the influence of religion in society is gradually fading.

The survey of 5,030 adults nationwide was designed and conducted by the American Enterprise Institute between Nov. 23 and Dec. 23. 14, 2021.

He revealed that while 81% of couples who married before 1972 married someone of the same religion, only 52% of couples who married in the past decade said they were married to the same religion. During the same period, secular marriages also increased from 3% to 16% of all marriages.

At least 40 years ago, some 72% of Americans said they had had a religious wedding ceremony presided over by a religious leader. However, some 49% of marriages recorded in the last decade alone were secular.

“Newly married couples shun religious wedding ceremonies that connect them to existing traditions and communities, preferring instead celebrations that reflect their personal tastes and preferences,” said study author Daniel A. Cox, lead researcher. in polls and public opinion. at the American Enterprise Institute and director of the Survey Center on American Life.

Only 46% of Americans married today say they were married by a religious leader in a church or other religious setting. Some 16% said they had been married by a religious leader in a secular setting, while 36% said their marriage was entirely secular.

“Only 30% of Americans who got married in the last decade report having their ceremony in a church, house of worship, or other religious place and presided over by a religious leader,” the study said.

Interfaith marriage – a union between people who have different religious traditions – has also become increasingly common and accounts for 14% of all marriages. Another 14% of Americans are in a religious-secular marriage where one person does not identify with a religious tradition while the other does.

Despite the general decline in religious influence on marriages in general, some religious groups, particularly Mormons and practicing Protestants, have been found to be more likely to marry someone of the same religion than any other religious group.

Some 87% of Mormons said their spouse was also a Mormon. Evangelical Protestants recorded a high marriage rate of 83% to people of their religion, while 72% of mainstream Protestants say they are married to someone of their religion. A majority of Catholics (65%) and Jews (59%) also said that their spouse shared their faith.

While interfaith marriages are now more common, the study found that Americans in such unions generally had lower levels of religious commitment.

“Americans married to mixed religions are much less likely to attend services regularly than those married to someone with the same religious commitments,” Cox wrote.

The study showed that 44% of Americans whose spouse shares their faith attend services at least once a week.

However, only 16% of Americans in interfaith marriages attend formal worship services weekly or more, while 81% of Americans in secular marriages say they never attend church services.

“One possible explanation for the gap in religious engagement is that people who enter interfaith relationships simply care less about religion,” Cox wrote. “As a result, Americans in religiously mixed marriages may not have prioritized religious compatibility when selecting a spouse.”

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