Review of Religious Research

, Volume 61, Issue 1, pp 57–74 | Cite as

How Pornography Use Reduces Participation in Congregational Leadership: A Research Note

  • Samuel L. PerryEmail author
Research Note


Research on the link between religion and pornography suggests that more frequent pornography viewing can lead to declines in individuals’ religious commitment, likely stemming from the guilt, shame, and dissonance adherents experience for violating sacralized moral values. No research, however, has considered the implications of this phenomenon for religious organizations. The current study addresses this gap by examining how pornography use contributes to potential congregational problems by discouraging individuals from participating in lay leadership. Multivariate analyses of panel data from the 2006–2012 Portraits of American Life Study reveal that the more frequently respondents viewed pornography at wave 1 the less likely they were to hold a leadership position or serve on a committee in their congregation within the following 6 years. This effect was robust to controls for religious commitment, tradition, and other correlates of lay leadership participation. Interactions with religious tradition and gender suggest that participation in leadership is more negatively tied to porn use for conservative Protestants and Catholics compared to mainline Protestants and women compared to men. Findings ultimately suggest that increasingly pervasive pornography consumption among adherents could portend a potential dearth of volunteer leadership for congregations.


Pornography Church Congregations Leadership Gender 


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Copyright information

© Religious Research Association, Inc. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of OklahomaNormanUSA

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