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Catholic sex-abuse crisis boon for Baptists, new research shows


Daniel Hungerman

Did the Catholic sex-abuse scandal benefit other faiths? New research by economist Dan Hungerman shows it did.

The study by Hungerman, Stepan Family Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Notre Dame, shows a 2 million member drop in the Catholic population following the sex-abuse scandal and more than $3 billion in donations to non-Catholic faiths, with Baptist churches showing the most significant gains.

“Substitution and Stigma: Evidence on Religious Competition from the Catholic Sex-Abuse Scandal” will appear next week on the National Bureau of Economic Research website and later in print.

Using data from 1990 to 2007, Hungerman examined the impact of the sex-abuse scandal on religious participation, particularly non-Catholic religious participation. The results indicate that a crisis or shock in one religious group has significant spillover effects on other religious groups. In the case of Catholics and the abuse shock, Baptist churches benefitted most both financially and in membership growth.

“Over time, the scandal led to a rise in both religious non-affiliation and participation in non-Catholic traditions,” says Hungerman. [more]


Notre Dame News



  1. Jim says:

    There but for the grace of God could go any of us. The tragic sexual abuse scandal came about because sinful human beings became deceived by the permissiveness encouraged by the sexual “revolution” over the last 40 years.

    98% of priests never abused a young person. As a sinner and a Catholic who knows my faith reasonably well, why on earth would I trade the fullness of God’s revelation and means to eternal salvation for a portion of that truth? Reject the sacred deposit of the Faith passed down for 2,000 years over yet another very sad display of our fallen nature? Never.

    • TOM WILSON says:

      I respectfully disagree with the notion that the so-called sexual revolution has caused the sex abuse scandal in the Church. Sexual abuse is nothing new–bet it’s been in the Church since very early times–as well as in all walks of human life going back to he dawn of time. The problem is less that it occurs but rather how it is handled and in that Holy Mother Church has made mistakes–and probably always has. Maybe it always will–But it has a lot of company.

      • Jim says:

        Tom, I agree that the sexual revolution didn’t cause the sexual abuse scandal. But its vile fallout made conditions ripe for the scandal to occur when it did, and for clergy in high places to often “look the other way.”

        This in no way excuses the sins and scandals that have always been a part of human nature. However, let’s not forget that the Church since it was founded has been a “hospital for sinners” and that includes everyone.


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