The comprehensive survey encompassed 19,000 Sunday attendees at 112 evangelical, Protestant, and Roman Catholic churches.
While the study found a mere 22% of regular church attendees experiencing feelings of loneliness, the researchers detected a pronounced discrepancy between married, cohabiting, and single Sunday churchgoers in their feelings of isolation. Single church attendees were found to be more than three times as likely to endure feelings of solitude.
Commenting on these findings, Communio President J.P. DeGance expressed his concerns. "We are told that you should not prioritize getting married and having a family, that you should instead prioritize climbing the career ladder and maximizing your income," DeGance, who is also the study author, explained to Fox News Digital. He underlined the study's conclusion that the societal emphasis on career over family had propagated a "crisis of loneliness."
The most impacted group, according to the findings, are men and women in their 30s - a demographic that in previous decades would likely have been married. "They're not today, and as a consequence, they are also the among the loneliest Americans," DeGance added.
A staggering two-thirds of men and women in their 30s who have never married were reported to experience loneliness, a rate higher than that reported among widows. The study also revealed an alarming disregard for marriage and relationship ministry, with 85% of churches reported to invest nothing each year in such programs.
DeGance highlighted the detrimental impact of churches failing to confront widespread premarital sex and the pervasiveness of pornography addiction. Citing sociologist Dr. Mark Regnurus, he explained that undervaluing sex leads to ‘capstone marriage,’ causing delays in decisions to marry.
He further warned about the growing impact of pornography, which he called an "epidemic". "It's growing, shockingly, among younger women, as well as men. And, increasingly, guys in particular are just incapable of forming the kinds of relationships that can lead to a healthy marriage because of pornography."
At a recent Focus on the Family event, a woman relayed to DeGance her daughters' experiences, both having multiple relationships end due to their Christian partners' unmanageable pornography addictions. DeGance decried the current paradoxical societal approach to sex, where it is omnipresent yet remains largely undiscussed, particularly within Christian congregations.
The study unveiled another startling trend - the dwindling presence of fathers in the home, correlating with declining marriage rates, is fueling the diminishing Christian faith in the U.S. Out of all Sunday church attendees, 80% across all demographics were raised in a continuously married home with both biological parents.
A Pew Research Center and General Social Survey published in September corroborated these findings, identifying an increase in adults leaving Christianity to become atheists, agnostics, or "nothing in particular." It projected the possibility of Christianity, the U.S.'s historically dominant religion, becoming a minority by 2045 if the current rate of departure continues.
"The collapse of resident fathers through the collapse of marriage is at the heart of the unraveling of Christianity," the Communio study concluded. It underscored that the growth of the religiously unaffiliated is likely to persist until 25-30 years after married fatherhood reverses its decline, emphasizing the need for strategic action to renew the societal values surrounding family and faith.
Continuing on the implications of Communio's study, DeGance emphasized that "We live in this weird time when we have this strangely paradoxically puritanical world, where sex is all around us, but we don't really want to talk much about it in certain ways." This paradoxical reality is underscored by the fact that the average age of exposure to pornography has now fallen to below ten years of age.
The findings clearly indicate that, while society grapples with the proliferation of sexual content, conversations about healthy sexual relationships within the framework of Christian marriage remain notably absent. DeGance suggested that a critical area for exploration, discussion, and understanding is "what authentic, life-giving sexual relationships and marriage look like."
A central assertion of the study is the link between declining marriage rates and fatherhood and the erosion of Christian faith in the U.S. The study found that the vast majority, around 80%, of Sunday churchgoers were raised in homes where the parents remained married and present. It postulates that this stability offered a strong foundation for religious adherence, and its absence is contributing to the ebbing of Christianity.
Backing these claims, a recent report by Pew Research Center and the General Social Survey found an upsurge of adults renouncing Christianity to identify as atheists, agnostics, or "nothing in particular." The report forecasts a potential future where, if the current trajectory persists, Christians under 30 could become a minority in the U.S. by 2045.