LifeWay Study Shows 1 in 10 Young Protestants Have Left the Church Due to Sexual Abuse

Young adults are more at risk

The Lifeway Research conducted a 2019 Sexual Misconduct and Churchgoers Study found that about 10 percent of all Protestant churchgoers below 35 years of age have abandoned their church as they harbored the perception of sexual misconduct not being taken seriously. This is twice as many as five percent of all the churchgoers who have previously done the same. When it comes to the younger demographic, about nine percent said that they have stopped attending their congregation due to feeling unsafe from misconduct.

Churchgoers aged between 18 years to 34 years are more probable compared to older generations when it comes to reporting sexual harassment. These ranged from prolonged glances and sexual comments inside a church and know others who are being victimized. About 23 percent of the 1,815 Americans polled express this opinion.

There is an important factor at work: the younger churchgoers are nearest to the ages when most sexual assaults take place. The maximum risk is present in the 12 to 34 years age span, and the most vulnerable period begins at 16 years of age and ends at 19 years. Although 14 percent of the 18 to 34 age group say that sexual advances made by church people have inhibited them from attending, only one percent over 65 years of age reported the same. The youngest generation is two times more than the oldest generation to say that they have suffered sexual harassment in the form of sexualized jokes and compliments, prolonged glances, or sexting.

The research pointed out how mishandling of any sexual content may affect the chances of younger churchgoers going to places of worship. As those who read the report have pointed out, the study does not take into consideration the many people who have completely stopped visiting the church. These findings also have a silver lining: most of the respondents say that the church is now much better when it comes to managing sexual misconduct. Approximately 70 percent of the respondents admit that the church is far more ready to protect children compared to what it should have done ten years back. This does not mean all is well. About 32 percent of the polled Protestants say they believe there are many more children who have suffered abuse at the hands of pastors than the numbers reported. About 29 percent claim the number of abused adults is more too.


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