Survey Shows 1 in 3 Protestants Think More Reports of Sexual Abuse by Pastors Will Come

Photo illustration by Timothy Hale/Creative Commons

The past year has been filled with stories of alleged sexual misconduct and abuse by Protestant Christian pastors.

Bill Hybels retired early from the influential Chicago-area megachurch he founded, Willow Creek Community Church, after being accused of sexual harassment by several women connected to the church.

Andy Savage, a megachurch preacher in Memphis, Tenn., resigned after admitting to having an inappropriate sexual contact with a teenager when he was a youth pastor.

And a landmark investigation by the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News revealed that more than 250 people who worked or volunteered in Southern Baptist churches have been charged with sex crimes over the past 20 years.

Most Protestant churchgoers feel they and their children are safe from abuse or harassment at their churches. But many also seem unsure whether new cases of abuse are yet to be revealed.

“More sexual abuse revelations to come?” Graphic courtesy of LifeWay Research

A new survey found that 1 in 3 Protestant Christian churchgoers think there are many more stories of sexual abuse by pastors that have yet to come out.

The survey, released Tuesday (May 21) by LifeWay Research, which is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, shows 32% of those churchgoers believe many more Protestant pastors have sexually abused children or teens than has already been reported. Twenty-nine percent believe there are many more unreported cases where adults were assaulted.

In both cases, a similar number say they disagree or don’t know if there are more unreported cases.

Meantime, 94% say teens and children are protected from abuse at their churches, according to the survey. Ninety-three percent say adults are protected.

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Source: Religion News Service