Interview with Dr. Katie Gaddini, author of “The Struggle to Stay: Why Single Evangelical Women Are Leaving the Church”

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In this solo episode (Jessica will be back next week), I spoke with Dr. Katie Gaddini, a sociologist at the Social Research Institute, University College London and a research associate at the University of Johannesburg, Department of Sociology.

She recently released her debut book, The Struggle to Stay: Why Single Evangelical Women Are Leaving the Church, which is based on over four years of in-depth ethnographic research with single evangelical women in the US and the UK.

We talked about purity culture, the mixed messages sent to Christian women, and whether their churches do more harm than good.

1:00 How did you get interested in this topic?

2:10 Are Christian women leaving church or the religion?

3:35 When they leave their churches, what are they missing out on?

4:55 What role does modern-day feminism play in women leaving church?

7:40 Do Christian women have opportunities to date, or is it always about courtship and marriage?

10:00 How do Christian women deal with sex loopholes?

15:30 What happens to women in the church as they get older but are still single?

17:40 Does the pressure to find a perfect Christian guy make things worse?

19:45 What’s been the effect of #MeToo on these Christian women?

21:20 What do you make of the messages sent to Christian girls by modern Christian “influencers”?

24:18 Do churches ever offer sex ed for adults?

26:40 What’s the message being delivered to older, single Christian men?

27:50: What happens when Christian women realize they’ve been lied to about the sexual binary between abstinence and anything-goes?

29:50: Are church leaders adapting to any of this?

32:10 Are evangelical churches a force for good in these women’s lives?

33:50 Who are positive role models for Christian women wanting responsible advice about sex?

35:10 What surprised you in your research?

36:40 What has been your family’s reaction to your book?

37:20: What is your current research focused on?

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