Blame Buffy (er, uh, actually, that would be Willow)

It’s a bit funny that the Telegraph picks a downright smoldering picture of Sarah Michelle Gellar—cropped in a fashion that shows her bare-shouldered—in a report that says the decline in young women’s attendance at church has to do with the church not being relevant to them. On the upsurge, they note, is their attraction to Wicca, glamorized in pop culture such programs as Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Now, *this* Cafe editor is to Buffy the Vampire Slayer what Jim Naughton is to Friday Night Lights, but despite my insider knowledge of the series and all its DVD extras, the money quote that gave Telegraph editors its handy story frame is partly accurate. Buffy was a show about female empowerment, and that is something that spoke to the people who watched the show when it ran for seven years in the waning years of the 90s until 2004.

Saving that commentary for the comments, but the study notes some reasons why women have been leaving the church. It underscores that the recent brouhaha over women bishops’ in the Church of England may drive some people out for theological reasons, but it may help address why people have been leaving all along:

Her research, published in a new book called Women and Religion in the West, cites an English Church Census which found more than a million women worshippers have left churches since 1989.

Over the past decade, it claims, women have been leaving churches at twice the rate of men.

In addition, the census is said to show that teenage boys now outnumber girls in the pews for the first time.

Dr Aune says the church must adapt to the needs of modern women if it is to stop them leaving in their droves.

She believes many women have been put off going to church in recent years because of the influence of feminism, which challenged the traditional Christian view of women’s roles and raised their aspirations.

Her report claims they feel forced out of the church because of its “silence” about sexual desire and activity, and because of its hostility to single-parent families and unmarried couples which are now a reality for many women.

But it also says changes in women’s working lives, with many more now pursuing careers as well as raising children, mean they have less time to attend church.

The story is here. And remember, kids, Willow wound up in a 12-step program to kick the magic habit. Don’t try this at home.

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