A new study of self-described "active Christian women" shows more than a quarter personally experienced sexually inappropriate behavior, and one fourth of those that experienced it said it happened in a church or ministry setting. The survey, based on answers given last fall by 779 American women to NationalChristianPoll.com, was designed to capture the range and extent to which women encounter unwelcome, gender-based behaviors by their male counterparts, either in the workplace or within a church or ministry setting. Commonly reported inappropriate behaviors include sexual advances, touching or sexual contact, suggestive jokes, glances with sexual overtones, and demeaning comments.
While some may take suggestive jokes or demeaning comments to a coworker or ministry colleague lightly, this kind of behavior can create a stressful environment. Joy Thornburg Melton, an ordained minister and attorney who currently serves in the United Methodist Church as chief resource officer for PACT (United Methodist Property and Casualty Trust), says these survey results are "interesting, but not surprising." Based on the anecdotal reports she receives from individual women in a wide variety of ministry settings, she says, "There is a lot of inappropriate ?conversation' being tolerated by women so as not to antagonize men in their workplaces."
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Excerpted from Sexual Misconduct in the Church, a new downloadable resource from Gifted for Leadership.