If you had to guess which husbands are more acquainted with a toilet brush and a vacuum cleaner – secular egalitarians or traditional religious types – which would you guess? The stereotype is that it is clearly the former. But new research serves to back up previous findings that it is actually the family-centered husbands who regularly attend church who are more likely to pitch in and help out with keeping the house tidy.

As the Institute for Family Studies says of these new findings recently published in the academic journal Social Compass, “men who attended religious services weekly did significantly more housework than either the never-attenders or those in the middle.” The two University of Utah scholars who authored the study admit being surprised at this finding because it challenges the general stereotype about religiously conservative men. In fact, they reported “our findings provide no clear support … across the board” that husbands holding strongly to conservative religious traditions are less likely to help their wives with household chores. They report that husbands “who are more actively religious appear to espouse attitudes that place a high value on home and family life, also leading to greater participation in housework.” Specifically, “men who attend religious services weekly share more in laundry tasks and report significantly longer housework hours” compared to their peers who never attend or do so sporadically. Their data indicates this is generally true across the Americas, Asia, Europe, Africa and Oceania and includes various household chores like laundry, grocery shopping, preparing meals and hands-on cleaning.

They surmise this could be because “highly religious men are heeding the call from their leaders to become more involved in family life, including participation in household chores.” They add, that “despite giving lip service to traditional gender ideology, many conservative [religious] couples exhibit a pragmatic egalitarianism that may lead to more equal sharing of household tasks.”

The scholars at the Institute for Family Studies (IFS) explains that this is one of the reasons highly religious married couples with more traditional gender beliefs, particularly women, report the highest levels of relational satisfaction compared to their more secular and liberal peers as seen here:

They explain why people wrongly assume it is the more secular, progressive husbands who are more likely to help their wives.

We suggest there are two basic reasons people assume religious men refrain from household chores: the first is a caricature of religious men as misogynistic, narcissistic, and controlling; the second is that many people understand that egalitarianism places high expectations on husbands and fathers, without recognizing that faith does likewise.

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