While the obesity debates in the America have taken the underclass and African Americans as their primary populations of concern, it seems that clergy too are suffering disproportionately from health issues. As The New York Times reports, “Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension and depression at rates higher than most Americans. In the last decade, their use of antidepressants has risen, while their life expectancy has fallen. Many would change jobs if they could.”

The trend has caused several churches to take special measures. In the United Methodist Church, for instance, “some church administrators have been contacting ministers known to skip vacation to make sure they have scheduled their time,” according to Duke health research professor Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell.

There are a variety of factors that go into this alarming trend—dwindling congregations (especially for mainline Protestant congregations), and thus fewer volunteers, as well as new technologies that allow congregants more frequent access to clergy. But the overarching reason, clergy health studies suggest, is overwork due to poor boundary maintenance.

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