John C. Richards Jr. Urges Christian Men to Listen to Their Sisters in Christ as Billy Graham Center Announces Summit on Sexual Violence

An Even Quieter Exodus

Much has been said over the years of the quiet exodus of African-Americans from evangelicalism. I have written about this previously here on the Exchange. But I am concerned about an even quieter exodus in the broader church context that needs attention.

Since the church’s inception, women have long been its backbone—leading, serving, and suffering for Jesus in admirable ways. For decades, the church in the West has experienced similar trends—a trend that saw far more women involved in the local church than their male counterparts.

Over the past 30 years, that trend has shifted. A 2016 Pew Survey highlighted the narrowing gender gap in religious service attendance between 1982 and 2002.

In 1982, over two times the number of women attended religious services at least once a week than men. Over a 30-year period, however, the gender gap has decreased from a 13-point gap to a 6-point gap. Similar trends occur among religiously affiliated women. The Pew Research found that the rise of Religious Nones and behavior changes among women who say they are religious contributed significantly to that decline.

There Are Stories Behind the Stats

Why the decline in regular church attendance for women? Is there something in the data that creates the perception of some local churches as “unsafe” spaces for women?

One must wonder if that decline tells a story that includes frustration and disappointment with the way women have been treated in their church context. Over the past several years, we’ve heard evidence of that frustration and disappointment. Local churches around our nation have seen and heard from women who have experienced sexual violence, harassment, or physical and emotional abuse in some form.

And some local churches were either ill-equipped or ill-intentioned in their response to these voices.

Could these actions have contributed to this quiet exodus of women from churches? Could these actions have created a new category of Religious Nones who associate Christ’s Bride with patriarchal apathy?

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Source: Christianity Today