Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Family values and fundamentalism

I've been having some fun looking at a multi-year survey done regarding religious attitudes in the United States. You can create your own charts using their data. So I looked at the correlation between fundamentalism and marital status. After all the fundies are such "family values" people. Now I have long thought they are on this kick because they are so bad at family life themselves, much the way the big anti-erotica campaigners tend to be obsessed with sex privately.

Unless I'm reading this wrong this survey says that 32.1% of all Americans are fundamentalists while 43% are moderates and 24.9% are liberals. I am suspecting that an atheist is a liberal on theology but that really isn't very precise. Nor do I know how they define their terms in general.

Now if 32.1% of people are fundamentalists then in the different marital groups they should be similarly represented if things were merely based on the odds. But of course religion changes how people act. And that allows us to get an idea as to how religion changes behavior regarding marital status.

When it comes to marriage the fundies are right on target with 32.1% of all married people being fundamentalists just as in the general population. But things diverge from there. Fundies are slightly more likely to be widowed (36.0/32.1). I thought this might be because they are more likely to be older. But in fact that is not the case, only 32.6% of people over 56 years of age are fundamentalists. I guess fundamentalists just get widowed at a higher than average rate.

But what about d.i.v.o.r.c.e (as Tammy Wynette sang it)? Fundamentalists are slightly more likely to be divorced (33.7/32.1) but that is a huge difference. But where the big jump shows up is those separated but not divorced (43.7/32.1). That would seem to indicate that fundamentalists are more likely to break up their marriages but some just prefer to do it de facto instead of de jure.

So what else did we learn from 40 year survey?

Fundamentalists are more likely to not finish high school and well underrepresented among college graduates. Where 32.1% of the population is fundamentalist only 16.6% of people with graduate degrees are fundies.

When it comes to employment fundies are less likely to be working fulltime (30.7), less likely to be working parttime (30.8), less likely to be in school (25.8) and more likely to be keeping house (36.6). This would indicate that a larger percentage of fundamentalists are women and that is my experience.

What is the family income for fundamentalists? Well they are more likely to earn less than $15,000 (38.5) and less likely to earn over $25,000 (27.4).

We also see that fundamentalism is still a regional trait. With Southerners twice as likely to be fundamenatlists while fundamentalists in New England are underrepresented by half.


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