Are Americans turning their back on marriage and having families?
Being married and having children is undoubtedly waning in importance for most U.S. Americans.
Most of them reject the idea that society is better off if marriage and procreation are prioritized, except for one group named in a recent survey carried out by Pew.
"White evangelical Protestants consistently hold more traditional views than others, including other Christians, on these questions," the Pew Research Center survey found.
The survey released Dec. 16 found that only 34 percent of U.S. adults believe society is better off if "people make marriage and having children a priority.
On Oct. 21, 2021, The New York Times carried an op-ed page titled: The Married Will Soon Be the Minority.
On Aug. 10, the same year, The Hill carried an opinion piece by Joseph Cahmie titled: "The end of marriage in America?"
It said, "While it may not have ended, marriage in America has unquestionably declined over the recent past and is now at historic low levels for the country."
Pew said that 64 percent of Americans believe society is "just as well off if people have priorities other than marriage and children."
Still, among white evangelicals, 56 percent say society is better off with marriage and procreation prioritized, while 41 percent say other priorities are fine.
White evangelicals are the only religious subgroup studied in which 56 percent say that prioritizing marriage and having children is better for society.
Then 41 percent say society is just as well off when people have other priorities.
According to Pew, on average, evangelical Christians have about the same number of children as other Americans.
EVANGELICALS TEND TO MARRY YOUNGER
While they tend to marry at a younger age than other U.S. adults, members of evangelical denominations overall are not necessarily more likely to be married than members of other Christian subgroups – and they may have higher divorce rates.
Among the religiously unaffiliated, 16 percent say society is better off with people prioritizing marriage and childrearing, while 82 percent believe society is just as well off with other priorities.
"These patterns extend to measures of religious observance, too," Pew's Stephanie Kramer wrote in an analysis.
"For example, highly religious people – those who say religion is very important in their lives and those who attend religious services regularly – are more likely than Americans who say religion is less important or attend religious services less frequently to say that society is better off if people prioritize marriage and procreation," said Kramer.
The poll also revealed a significant political divide: Republicans, at 50 percent, are twice as likely as Democrats at 22 percent to say society is better off prioritizing marriage and childrearing.
Michael Foust wrote in Christian Headlines that the survey was released around the time Pope Francis stirred controversy when he criticized couples who choose to have pets instead of children in comments while discussing Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus.
"We see that people do not want to have children, or just one and no more. And many, many couples do not have children because they do not want to, or they have just one – but they have two dogs, two cats.
"Yes, dogs and cats take the place of children," Francis said.
"Yes, it's funny, I understand, but it is the reality. And this denial of fatherhood or motherhood diminishes us; it takes away our humanity. And in this way, civilization becomes aged and without humanity because it loses the richness of fatherhood and motherhood. And our homeland suffers, as it does not have children."