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Date Posted:13/09/2009 2:34 AMCopy HTML

Hi All,

I received this interesting note in my email today for "Ministry Today" :

Approximately one in 10 people have attended a church in which a congregational leader was involved in sexual misconduct. That's the latest (albeit bleak) finding from a Baylor University study that includes more than 3,500 survey respondents from multiple denominations and faiths across the nation.

Equally as disconcerting is what researchers discovered regarding victims of such misconduct: One in 33 women has been the target of sexual advances from a pastor, priest or rabbi. That 3 percent mark may not warrant the "pervasive" label one Washington Post story attributed to the issue, but it is enough to concern those who wrote the Baylor report.

"It certainly is prevalent, and clearly the problem is more than simply a few charismatic leaders preying on vulnerable followers," said the study's co-author Diana Garland, who serves as dean of Baylor's School of Social Work.

On the heels of the countless Catholic clergy sex scandals in the past decade, at least 36 denominations have adopted policies regarding leaders involved in sexual misconduct, most of which include discipline.

Although the study doesn't indicate whether sexual misconduct is more or less frequent now than in the past—or even if it's more prevalent than in other professions—Garland said this does not diminish the sobering issue of leaders abusing power. "When you put it with a spiritual leader or moral leader, you've really added a power that we typically don't think about in secular society—which is that this person speaks for God and interprets God for people. And that really adds a power." [washingtonpost.com, 9/10/09]

Interesting in that this highlights a very sad prevalence among those would purport to lead in a highly responsible position such as leading a congregation of faith. Recently I viewed a program on the CI Channel about the dangers of celibacy and how it is now tearing the Catholic Church apart especially in the United States and Europe. It is that damaging that one diocese saw a Cardinal resign and seminarys are being forced to close. I think we need to realize that sexual misconduct is a very serious issue and the church corporately cannot hide any longer.... and I wonder how really prevalent it may or must occur in the non accountable groups such as the RCI and Revival Fellowships...

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