A new study from Baylor University has found that one in every 33 women who attend church services regularly has been the target of sexual advances by a religious leader.
The findings come from a random sample of more than 3,500 American adults conducted by the National Opinion Research Center. Respondents were asked if, since turning 18, they had ever been the object of a sexual advance from a religious leader.
The study, by Baylor University researchers, found that the problem is so pervasive that it almost certainly involves a wide range of denominations, religious traditions and leaders.
According to a release from the University, the study suggests that the prevalence of “Clergy Sexual Misconduct” with adults is higher than many people realize and that it occurs across denominations and religions.
“Because many people are familiar with some of the high-profile cases of sexual misconduct, most people assume that it is just a matter of a few charismatic leaders preying on vulnerable followers,” said Dr. Diana Garland, Dean of the School of Social Work at Baylor University and lead researcher in the study. “What this research tells us, however, is that Clergy Sexual Misconduct with adults is a widespread problem in congregations of all sizes and occurs across denominations. Now that we have a better understanding of the problem, we can start looking at prevention strategies.”