The Book of Resolutions of The UMC states, “ Sexual abuse is a form of sexual misconduct and occurs when a person within a ministerial role of leadership (lay or clergy, pastor, educator, counselor, youth leader, or other position of leadership) engages in sexual contact or sexualized behavior with a congregant, client, employee, student, staff member, coworker, or volunteer.”
General Commission on the Status and Role of Women – www.gcsrw.org
By Erin Kane - Director of Research and Monitoring
This month, “Women by the Numbers” takes a look at surprising findings from a program evaluation analysis about clergy attitudes concerning sexual misconduct. Many denominations and social scientists have examined sexual misconduct cases involving children; however, this research is specific to adult victims (mostly women) and perpetrators within The United Methodist Church in the United States.
Clergy attending a boundaries training were asked to anonymously answer seven (7) questions about sexual ethics. Some interesting findings:
Numbers Reveal Prevalence of Sexual Misconduct
41% knew NEITHER a victim nor a perpetrator.
While it might seem heartening that 41% of respondents don’t know anyone involved in sexual misconduct by clergy, but the reverse is that nearly six of every 10 clergypersons (59%) know someone who was a perpetrator or victim (sometimes both) of clergy sexual misconduct.
So, while half of the respondents do not accept close relationships or dating parishioners, the other half do accept some combination of close relationships and/or dating.
These results indicate that clergy sexual misconduct is still a problem for the denomination. Having so many of our clergy personally familiar with sexual misconduct illustrates how important our efforts are to provide proper boundary and sexual ethics training for clergy and other ministerial positions within the church. Because 59% of surveyed clergy have experience with this issue, it is also extremely important to have comprehensive sexual ethics policies available to them and to the communities that they serve.
Find out if our clergy have become more or less ethnically diverse.