Original Article

Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 279-288

First online:

Religious Affiliations Among Adult Sexual Offenders

  • Donna EshuysAffiliated withSchool of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Griffith University Email author 
  • , Stephen SmallboneAffiliated withSchool of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Griffith University

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This article examines associations between self-reported religious affiliations and official offense histories among 111 incarcerated adult male sexual offenders. Four categories of religiosity were devised according to self-reported continuities and discontinuities in life-course religious affiliations: atheists, dropouts, converts, and stayers. ANCOVAs indicated that stayers (those who maintained religious involvement from childhood to adulthood) had more sexual offense convictions, more victims, and younger victims, than other groups. Results challenge assumptions that religious involvement should, as with other crime, serve to deter sexual offending behavior. Results are discussed in terms of social control and situational theories of crime.


Sexual offenders Religiosity Social control theory