Does religion affect the lives of American minorities? Abundantly so, claims a new book by authors W. Bradford Wilcox and Nick Wolfinger that focuses on the effects of religion on relationships and marriages within African American and Latino communities.
In Soul Mates: Religion, Sex, Love, and Marriage among African Americans and Latinos, Wilcox and Wolfinger examine how faith shapes families, marriages, children and relationship quality in minority communities. The authors document a national retreat from marriage—shown to be strongest among African American and Latino communities—and emphasize the role religion plays in mitigating some of the trend’s repercussions. Coupled with their groundbreaking findings, the results of six nationally representative surveys, personal interviews, focus groups, and countless hours of field work across the country, Wilcox and Wolfinger highlight the many benefits that participation in a spiritual community has for American minorities.
“You guys have found some remarkable things in the data you’ve collected,” said KOAN’s Joe Miller on a recent segment with the two authors. “In most but not all cases,” said Wolfinger, “religion is a source of good in America. People who attend church regularly are less likely to have children out of wedlock, more likely to be married, have better relationships, and they divorce less.”
As Wilcox points out, the majority of Americans will be non-white by the year 2050. Before the release of Soul Mates, very little research had been done on the effects of faith on the family lives of minorities, which the two authors felt compelled to change.
Though participation in faith-based communities is the crux of their research, the authors are quick to point out that religious affiliation doesn’t seem to have much of an effect on their findings. “Denomination is not as good a predictor of behavior, but participation is,” said Wolfinger. “If you participate regularly in an uplifting community with like-minded people, why shouldn’t you do better? That seems like something that everyone on the ideological spectrum can embrace.”
Catch more of their interview on KOAN’s “The Joe Miller Show” below.