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LifeWay Research Finds 1 in 10 Young Protestants Have Left the Church because of Sex Abuse

  • Amanda Casanova

    Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and…

  • 2019 May 22

A new study from LifeWay Christian Resources says that younger Christians are choosing to leave the church if there are allegations of sexual misconduct.

According to Christianity Today, 10 percent of Protestant churchgoers under 35 report they have left a church because sexual misconduct had not been taken seriously.

Among all churchgoers, that same number is only 5 percent.

Nine percent of the young Protestant churchgoing group also said they stopped attending the church because they felt unsafe with the allegations of sexual misconduct at the church.

More than 20 percent said they would also report sexual harassment.

“It is not surprising that young adults who have only known this frank ‘call it what it is’ sexual culture to be more likely to identify instances of misconduct than older adults,” Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research which conducted the survey, told CT.

The youngest generation is also two to three times more likely than the oldest generation to say they have “experienced sexual harassment in the form of sexualized compliments and jokes, sexting, or prolonged glances.”

Justin Holcomb, an expert on sexual abuse in the church and a board member of GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment), said the highest risk for sexual assault is for those aged 12 to 34.

“I believe the gaps are generational in that the younger generation has had it with fakery, and they are bent toward telling it like it is, whereas older generations grew up with the ‘don’t tell secrets’ unwritten mandate. To be sure, both ages have experienced sexual abuse, but younger believers are more apt to share them,” said Mary DeMuth, a survivor of child sexual abuse and an advocate.

However, the study also showed that some 69 percent believe their church is more prepared to protect children than it was 10 years ago.

Photo courtesy: Unsplash/Brooke Cagle