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Discussing religion, spirituality and values. Amy Umble is the religion reporter for The Free Lance-Star. You can email her at aumble@freelancestar.com.
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Clergy Pickup Lines

Just wondering what, exactly, a clergy would say to talk a parishioner into an affair. But, according to a new Baylor University study, they’re definitely finding the words. The study, released last week found that 3.1 percent of adult women have been the object of a sexual advance from their clergy.

Much has been made of the clergy sex abuse scandals involving children–and most people would obviously find serious problems with a spiritual leader having any sexual contact with a child. But, the study’s authors report, many people do not have such a problem when the spiritual leader comes on to an adult woman.

"Many people–including the victims themselves–often label incidences of clergy sexual misconduct with adults as ‘affairs,’" said Diana Garland, dean of the school of social work and the study’s lead researcher. "In reality, they are an abuse of spiritual power by the religious leader."

In fact, many incidents aren’t reported because of the "culture of niceness" in houses of worship. And case studies show that sometimes, the congregation blames the woman and not the clergy.

One victim, Carolyn Waterstradt, said, "When it was happening to me, I felt confused and isolated. Now I know that many others have struggled with this, and that there is hope for putting systems in place to help prevent it from happening."

Garland hopes the study’s lasting impact will be to develop ways to prevent more cases. "Now that we have a better understanding of the problem, we can start looking at prevention strategies."

Some of those strategies will be featured in this week’s religion section. 

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/aboutfaith/2009/09/15/clergy-pickup-lines/