The Common Good
April 2009

Sex and the Seminary

by Rose Marie Berger, Jeannie Choi | April 2009

The Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing published a report in January that found U.S. seminaries and rabbinical schools were sorely lacking in sexuality training.

The Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing published a report in January that found U.S. seminaries and rabbinical schools were sorely lacking in sexuality training. “We are not preparing our clergy well enough to deal with the daily issues they will face as ministers,” Dr. Kate Ott, associate director of the Religious Institute, told Sojourners. “Sexual abuse and prevention policies, marriage counseling, teenage sexuality—all of these come up in the everyday work we do.” After surveying 36 institutions throughout the U.S., the study found that none completely met their criteria for a sexually healthy and responsible seminary.

- 3 percent
of religious institutions require a full-semester course on sexuality issues for religious professionals for graduation.

- 8 percent require a full-semester course on sexual abuse and domestic violence.

- More than 90 percent have sexual harassment policies for faculty, staff, and students.

- Two-thirds of the seminaries surveyed do not have a course in sexuality issues for religious professionals.

- Only one in six seminaries requires a sexual ethics course to graduate.

- Two-thirds of seminaries have fewer than 40 percent women on staff.

Sources: “Sex and the Seminary: Preparing Ministers for Sexual Health and Justice” (Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Healing, and Justice, January 2009).

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