IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


New book examines why single women are leaving evangelical churches

8 March 2022

A new book that looks at single women’s experiences of evangelical churches and their dilemma of whether to stay or leave has been published today.

Woman sat alone on church pew facing the altar. Image: Mateus Campos Felipe on Unsplash.

Written by Dr Katie Gaddini from UCL Social Research Institute (SRI) part of IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society, the book draws on unprecedented access to churches in the United States and the United Kingdom. It follows the stories of four women from evangelical churches and brings in Dr Gaddini’s own personal experience of leaving behind a devout faith.

Published today on International Women’s Day (8 March), the book examines the position of women in patriarchal religion and their complex battles with obedience and resistance that influence their decisions to stay or leave.

Dr Katie Gaddini said: “Evangelical women are often in a position surrounded by conflict and bias: a lot of secular feminists consider evangelical women, and religious women in general, to be 'brainwashed' or 'duped' as they remain in patriarchal religious institutions. On the other hand, evangelical women and especially women of colour and working-class Christian women also face discrimination, marginalisation and bias in their churches.

“These struggles are something I was keen to examine and they reveal incredible stories of faith, community, isolation, and loss in the religious environments and beyond. On International Women’s Day it is important to look at the biases that exist in our communities and reflect on how we can take action to create a more inclusive and equitable world for women everywhere.”

Dr Katie Gaddini is a Lecturer (Teaching) in Sociology at the Thomas Coram Research Unit (TCRU) within SRI, as well as an affiliate of the Centre for US Politics (CUSP) at UCL. She is also an Affiliate Researcher with the Sarah Parker Remond Centre and a Research Associate at the University of Johannesburg. Her research interests are in the sociology of religion with particular focus on gender, race, politics and nationalism.

‘The Struggle to Stay: Why Single Evangelical Women Are Leaving the Church’ was published by Columbia University Press on 8 March 2022. An online book launch will take place on 15 March 2022.

The theme of International Women’s Day in 2022 is #BreaktheBias.



Mateus Campos Felipe on Unsplash