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Results from the World's First,
Most Exhaustive Sociological Study on
Religious Trauma

Title:

"Percentage of U.S. Adults Suffering from Religious Trauma: A Sociological Study"

Abstract:

This sociological study aimed to ascertain the percentage of adults living in the United States who have experienced religious trauma (RT) and what percentage presently suffer from RT symptoms now. After compiling data from 1,581 adults living in the United States, this study concludes it is likely that around one-third (27‒33%) of U.S. adults (conservatively) have experienced religious trauma at some point in their life. That number increases to 37% if those suffering from any three of the six major RT symptoms are included. It is also likely that around 10‒15% of U.S. adults currently suffer from religious trauma if only the most conservative numbers are highlighted. Nonetheless, since 37% of the respondents personally know people who potentially suffer from RT, and 90% of those respondents know between one and ten people who likely suffer from RT, then it could be argued that as many as one-in-five (20%) U.S. adults presently suffer from major religious trauma symptoms.

Definition of Religious Trauma:

Religious trauma results from an event, series of events, relationships, or circumstances within or connected to religious beliefs, practices, or structures that is experienced by an individual as overwhelming or disruptive and has lasting adverse effects on a person’s physical, mental, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.

Slade, Darren M., Adrianna Smell, Elizabeth Wilson, and Rebekah Drumsta. "Percentage of U.S. Adults Suffering From Religious Trauma: A Sociological Study." Socio-Historical Examination of Religion and Ministry 5, no. 1 (2023): 1–28.

All proceeds go toward funding more scientific research on religious trauma.

Do you believe you have experienced religious trauma?

Conservative Estimate

Around one-third (27‒33%) of U.S. adults have experienced religious trauma at some point in their life.

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People Who Currently Suffer 
from Religious Trauma Symptoms

Conservative Estimate

Around 10‒15% of U.S. adults currently suffer from religious trauma.

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Do you know people who potentially suffer from religious trauma?

Yes:

37% of respondents said they personally know someone who likely suffers from religious trauma.

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Do you believe you have experienced religious trauma?

Less Conservative Estimate

Almost two-fifths (33‒37%) of U.S. adults have experienced religious trauma at some point in their life.

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People Who Currently Suffer 
from Religious Trauma Symptoms

Less Conservative Estimate

Around 15‒20% of U.S. adults currently suffer from religious trauma.

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How many people do you think you know who potentially suffer from religious trauma?

Of that 37%:

~90% claim to know 1-10 people who suffer from RT.

~71% claim to know 2-10 people who suffer from RT.

~33% claim to know 5 or more people with RT.

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GCRR's Work has been
Featured In: 

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“To what extent do the following negatively impact your life because of religion?”

Religious Trauma Symptom
% of Respondents
Nightmares
11.6
Shame
13.7
Depression
14.5
Fear
14.9
Stress
14.9
Anxiety
16.7

People Who Currently Suffer from Religious Trauma Symptoms

Any 3 out of 6 Symptoms
Any 4 out of 6 Symptoms
Any 5 out of 6 Symptoms
6 out of 6 Symptoms
No. (out of 1,581)
236
158
123
75
Percent (%)
14.9
10
7.8
4.7

To Discover More Survey Results and to
Learn More about the Data, Download the Full Article
by Clicking the SHERM Image Below:

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Hear from the World's Leading Scholars with GCRR's
RELIGIOUS TRAUMA EXPERT VIDEO LIBRARY

Discover the under-recognized truth about how religious doctrine can lead to trauma responses in the brain and body.

Many people don't realize that though there are numerous positive aspects of religion, their faith background and belief systems can also be a source of undetected mental health wounds that manifest in unexpected ways.
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Religious Trauma can look like:

  • Deep or chronic shame about being personally responsible for Christ's death, being a sinner, or not living up to expectations

  • Feelings of unworthiness, being unlovable, or bad in some way

  • Fear of rejection by God or the faith community

  • Lack of self-compassion

  • Lack of personal autonomy - an engrained belief that one's life is for God's sole purpose, leading to challenges making decisions, creating personal boundaries and providing intentional consent

  • Feeling that they can't trust themselves, their body or their emotions

  • Growing up with chronic fear or anxiety around salvation, rapture, Hell, Satan, or demons

  • Superstitious beliefs about what will lead to positive and negative outcomes in life

  • Perfectionism or hypervigilance - fear of making mistakes

  • Extreme dualistic thinking - judging every individual thought and action as "good" or "bad"

  • Spiritual bypassing - denying the presence and validity of mental health issues due to a belief that those feelings come from Satan or a lack of faith and if they pray enough or are favored then God will take it away

  • Difficulty with experiencing pleasure

  • Feeling bad or wrong for having sexual thoughts or feelings, or having physical reactions to sexual situations such as crying or feeling a disconnection from the body

  • Denying sexuality

  • Lasting trauma from conversion therapy

We reached out to top experts in the field including specialists, psychiatrists, researche

Official Letter of Recognition from
U.S. Senator Michael Bennet

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