An associate professor at the University of California, Riverside, will lead a team of researchers in a five-year study of sexual abuse across a variety of religious traditions and communities.

Amanda Lucia, who teaches in UC Riverside’s Department of Religious Studies, is the principal investigator of the Religion and Sexual Abuse Project, which is funded by a $550,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation through its Theology program. 

Lucia and her five main co-researchers — all religious studies professors at universities across the country — each specialize in a particular religious tradition. Together, their expertise includes Catholicism, Buddhism, yoga, and contemporary guru movements situated primarily within Hindu traditions. Each will receive approximately $20,000 in funding to develop research projects on this topic. 

Lucia noted a central aspect of the grant is the researchers’ partnership with four advocacy organizations: FaithTrust Institute, Bishop Accountability, Yoga Alliance, and INFORM. In collaborating with these groups, the researchers hope to create practical benefits for religious communities in which abuse has occurred, she said.

“I don’t have any desire to choose a particular guru and write an exposé,” she added. “I am more interested in thinking sociologically about what patterns we can find, and why it is that this is a commonality.”

Kent Brintnall of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte is part of the project’s main research team. He will analyze the Catholic church’s sexual abuse crisis, situating it within the contexts of sexuality, homosexuality, and LGBTQ politics. 

Full story at UC Riverside.