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Sexual boundary violations by clergy have received heightened media attention in recent years with far reaching implications for the long-term well-being of the Church as an institution. While much has been written about the causes and implications of sexual misconduct by clergy, very little research has addressed preventative efforts. Prevention begins in graduate school or seminary. How do seminary alumni perceive the quality of their training in the areas of understanding and maintaining sexual health as well as in managing feelings of sexual attraction in professional contexts? In this survey, 585 alumni from 5 evangelical seminaries answered questions related to their graduate training with regard to their coursework and training environments. Results suggest that minimal attention is given to both. Respondents were more likely than other helping professionals (i.e., psychologists) to believe that the experience of sexual attraction is unethical and to deny experiencing it in their professional contexts. Survey respondents reported coping with feelings of sexual attraction in a private, internal manner. However, respondents reported a surprisingly low incidence of sexual misconduct compared to previous research of clergy. Implications and future research directions are discussed.


Originally published in Pastoral Psychology, 53, 63-79.

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