Prayer and Church (And What An Agnostic, Progressive, Single, Childless Sociologist’s Book Says About Them)

Nicholas H Wolfinger Secular Sociologist Soul Mates Author

Nicholas H Wolfinger progressive sociologist and coauthor of the book Soul Mates

What An Agnostic, Progressive, Single, Childless Sociologist’s Book Says About Prayer And Church

I just read an article in Christianity Today about what an agnostic, progressive, single, and childless sociologist’s book says about prayer and church. Here’s a summary:

Research on the nation’s two largest minority groups, Latinos and African Americans, confirms that prayer and regular connection with a church community is of great benefit to marriages and families. (Later in the article we learn that this applies to the white demographic too.)

This research comes from the Oxford University Press book titled, Soul Mates: Religion, Sex, Love and Marriage among African Americans and Latinos. The agnostic progressive sociologist is Nicholas H. Wolfinger. To be fair, he coauthored the book with another sociologist, W. Bradford Wilcox, who is married, a catholic, conservative, and has children. When Christianity Today asked Wilcox why he chose to team up with someone holding a different worldview he said,

“There are few opportunities for scholars who don’t share the same ideological commitment to engage in a meaningful way. Despite our differences, Wolfinger and I share a commitment to the truth and trying to understand what’s happening in the data. For people who are skeptical of our empirical claims about marriage and church, it’s important to underline the fact that a progressive was also doing the statistics.”

Here are a few more quotes from Wilcox.

“…attending church is a better predictor of family outcomes than is particular religious affiliation… Being integrated into a community where you get social support, are held accountable, are part of corporate worship–all these things matter. But we also find that personal and family prayer is an even more powerful predictor of family outcomes than is church attendance.”

“Our work suggests that churchgoing is linked to significantly better outcomes for both black and Latino men. They are less likely to be incarcerated, more likely to be gainfully employed, and otherwise more likely to steer clear of illegal activity and substance abuse, marry, and enjoy higher-quality relationships.”

“We found that white couples who attend church together enjoy markedly higher levels of relationship quality, in part because they are more likely to have friends at church who are there for them and because they are more likely to pray together. Shared prayer is a very powerful predictor of marital quality–for all Americans.”

This is a great article that I highly recommend. You can read it here: The Data Don’t Lie: Couples That Pray Together Actually Do Stay Together, by Morgan Lee, Christianity Today, March 18, 2016

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