The economics of love: The best churches for those looking for love

young lady and churchChurches provide more than a path to religious fulfillment; for many, they are an important part of social life, and many a happy couple first met during worship. This begs the question, which religion or denomination would give you the best chance to find a mate?

The answer depends on what you seek in a mate. According to a survey of adults by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life:

If you're looking for a young person

If you're young, you probably want to mix with other young people. You'll find the most young people, as a percentage of adult church membership, in one of America's Muslim mosques, where 29% are between 18 and 29.

Of Christian churches, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) has the most people in this age group, at 25%. The churches with the fewest young people? The Greek Orthodox (8%) and mainline Protestant churches (14%). The Catholic Church comes in at 18%.

Among Protestant churches, the Methodists, Lutherans, and Presbyterians each have only 11% of their congregations in this age group, while the Episcopal/Anglican churches register only 10%.

If you're looking for earning potential

One way to get money is to rub elbows with people that have it, so knowing which churches draw the wealthiest parishioners could help you find a mate that rates. In the U.S., 55% of those families who attend Reform Jewish synagogues earned $100,000 or more in 2006. Among Conservative Jews, this rate was 43%. American Hindus also reported 43%.

19% of the Catholic family flock reached the $100K level, Mormons 16%, and New Age churches, 9%.

Among Protestants, the average was 15%. The Anglican/Episcopal Church, at 35%, was the clear leader, followed by mainline Presbyterians at 29%. Pentecostals only drew 7% -- perhaps good news, given the whole "eye of the needle" thing.

If you're looking for an educated mate

The link between education and life income is well established, so perhaps you'd be wise to attend services in a church with a well-educated congregation. If so, you might want to consider a Hindu (48% reaching post-graduate level) or Jewish (35%) house of worship.

Leading the Protestant churches is the Episcopals again, at 27%, followed by the Presbyterians (24%) and the United Church of Christ (21%). 10% of adults who attend Catholic churches have done some post-graduate work.

Looking for a man, or a woman?

Looking for a man? For those seeking a male, your odds will be better in a Hindu (61%) or Jewish Reform (54%) congregation. The odds are even more heavily skewed (70%) among atheists, but who knows where they go to worship?

Looking for a woman? Females are overrepresented in Protestant churches (54%) and Catholic ones (54%). Seventh-Day Adventists (60% female), Disciples of Christ (63%), United Church of Christ (61%) and black National Baptist Convention (61%) churches are most disproportionately female.

And are they single?

All the above, however, doesn't tell you where the eligible single young men and women hang out. You'll find a high percentage of already-marrieds among adult congregations of the Hindu (79%), Mormon (71%), Greek Orthodox (61%) and Jewish Reform (61%).

In a Protestant church, 45% of the adults are unmarried, on average, while in Catholic churches this population is 42%. Several traditionally black churches draw predominately unmarried attendees (National Baptist Convention, 35% married; Independent Baptist, 23%; African Methodist Episcopal, 39%.)

The highest percentage of divorced/separated worshipers in a church can be found in the New Age (19%), the historically black Protestant churches (16%), Jehovah's Witnesses (14%) and the Unitarian and other liberal faiths (14%).

Granted, changing your faith is not like changing your clothes, but many young people choose to explore the variety of ways that we search for something greater than ourselves. Is it so bad if, in that search, they make sure to visit churches that can offer them earthly, as well as heavenly, opportunities?

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