Sex and Secularism                              Sex and Secularism                   By Darrel Ray, Ed.D. and Amanda Brown...
Sex and Secularismunfortunately, when we checked the next morning there were 2,500 responses and morecoming in by the hour...
Sex and Secularismtechnically savvy than the average secularist. They are also probably younger sincemany college students...
Sex and Secularismresearch that indicates women’s sexual orientation is much more fluid and contextualthan men’s.7        ...
Sex and Secularism            !"#$%$&()"*&+"()",&-$%(.&/!"#$%$&01(  U/0;5&>I2;.6;&6I;43XMA&                  #!%&  J;Q;8/0...
Sex and Secularism                               Current Description           Atheist                                    ...
Sex and Secularismparallels other national data showing younger people are more non-religious than thegeneral population. ...
Sex and Secularism                              Secular 5 yrs. or Less, Former Relgion               Congregational     0....
Sex and SecularismBaptists are about 15.8% of the general population, so former Baptists are somewhatunder represented on ...
Sex and Secularism        While new atheists are important, there are others who have been secular for asignificant length...
Sex and Secularism                                                                        Guilt by Denomination     9.00  ...
Sex and Secularismand they were from a number of different countries including Turkey, Lebanon, Sweden,Morocco, Pakistan, ...
Sex and Secularism       We looked at church attendance between the two groups. In the most religiousgroup, 94.6% reported...
Sex and Secularism90% by age 18, a meager 2.8% difference for all the energy expended on guilt. It appearsthat guilt has l...
Sex and SecularismMy older sisters and their boyfriends would constantly ask, "Do you play with yourself?"Heck, yeah! Ever...
Sex and Secularism                         Progressive Sexual Activity by Age and Religiosity                         100 ...
Sex and Secularism                                              Figure 17                                              Fig...
Sex and Secularism        Our data are virtually identical to those of other national surveys regardingadolescent onset of...
Sex and Secularism         Suspecting that most children do not get their sexual information from parents, weasked a broad...
Sex and Secularism                                                Figure 20Sex When Still Religious         We wanted to l...
Sex and Secularismwould not only be a sin on the part of the person having the fantasy but a sin on the partof the partner...
Sex and Secularism                      How Has Your Sex Life Changed?      40.0%      35.0%      30.0%      25.0%      20...
Sex and Secularism        Earlier we discussed the distinct difference in the use of guilt by denomination(Fig. 14), we hy...
Sex and Secularism         Now That You are Non-Religious,         How Has our Sex Life Changed?                Atheist   ...
Sex and Secularism        Out of 7,709 participants who answered the “sex life change” question, theaverage score was 6.51...
Sex and Secularismrelationship. Without his complete lack of religion, I would never have shown this side ofmy sexuality t...
Sex and Secularism                                          Figure 24         We asked, “When did you start partaking in p...
Sex and Secularism                                    First Pornography Use by Gender45.0%40.0%35.0%30.0%25.0%20.0%15.0%10...
Sex and Secularism         We were most interested in religion’s effect on porn use. If religion’sproscriptions are effect...
Sex and Secularismconsistently shown that the most religious states and locations have higher internet pornuse with Utah a...
Sex and SecularismSome men’s comments:That she would reject me for being perverted.I fear that theyd think I was a freak.P...
Sex and Secularism        Last, we were interested in the effect of previous religious training on fantasy life.We asked, ...
Sex and Secularism“Wifes parents are fundamentalist Christians. Wife still struggles with feelings of guiltand shame that ...
Sex and Secularism - Pesquisa sobre Sexo e Religião
Sex and Secularism - Pesquisa sobre Sexo e Religião
Sex and Secularism - Pesquisa sobre Sexo e Religião
Sex and Secularism - Pesquisa sobre Sexo e Religião
Sex and Secularism - Pesquisa sobre Sexo e Religião
Sex and Secularism - Pesquisa sobre Sexo e Religião
Sex and Secularism - Pesquisa sobre Sexo e Religião
Sex and Secularism - Pesquisa sobre Sexo e Religião
Sex and Secularism - Pesquisa sobre Sexo e Religião
Sex and Secularism - Pesquisa sobre Sexo e Religião
Sex and Secularism - Pesquisa sobre Sexo e Religião
Sex and Secularism - Pesquisa sobre Sexo e Religião
Sex and Secularism - Pesquisa sobre Sexo e Religião
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Sex and Secularism - Pesquisa sobre Sexo e Religião

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Pesquisa realizada nos EUA sobre a relação entre a vida sexual e a religiosidade.

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Sex and Secularism - Pesquisa sobre Sexo e Religião

  1. 1. Sex and Secularism Sex and Secularism By Darrel Ray, Ed.D. and Amanda Brown1 IPCpress.comAbstract: Purpose of the Study: For thousands of years, religion has involved itself in sexand sexuality. Guilt plays a major role in religion and sex. This paper tests hypothesesrelated to the impact of religion and religious guilt on sexual behavior. Over 14,500people participated in an internet-based survey with over 9500 finishing the surveyduring two weeks in January 2011. Six hypotheses are considered: 1. Religions’ use ofsexual guilt is measurably greater in conservative religions and less in liberal ones. 2.People feel the sexual guilt taught by their religion but sexual behavior shows nodifference from those with less guilt. 3. Religiously conservative parents will be lesseffective at teaching their children about sex than more secular parents. 4. Children raisedin highly religious homes will receive poorer sexual education. 5. Leaving religion has apositive impact on sexual satisfaction. 6. Religion has continuing negative consequenceson individuals after they leave. Results: Strong evidence for five of the six hypotheses were found. Respondentsreported higher levels of sexual satisfaction after leaving religion, depending on howconservative their religious upbringing. There was little if any reported difference in theonset of a variety of sexual behaviors between religious and non-religiously raisedchildren. Religiously conservative parents were perceived to be less effective at teachingsex education to the respondents. The children of religious homes perceived their sexualeducation to be inferior. Once people left religion, over 50% saw an improvement in theirsex life, 29.6% saw no change, and 2.2% thought it was worse. Finally, few peoplereported continuing problems after leaving religion. It appears that the effects of religionare more easily eliminated than predicted. Overview The Sex and Secularism survey was conceived as a means of taking a look at bothsecular sexual behavior as well as understanding the differences between those who havebeen secular all their lives and those who have more recently left religion. In addition,the survey collected other information on secularists. In this paper we will look at somekey aspects of the research.Our apologies There were errors in the survey. The version we put up was our second testversion. We intended to collect 300-400 responses, make corrections, then put out a finalversion. We anticipated that it would take us a week or more to get responses,1 Darrel Ray, Ed.D. is author of The God Virus: How Religion Infects Our Lives and Culture. Founder ofRecovering from Religion he is also an organizational psychologist and author of many articles and twoother books. His fourth book, Sex and God: How Religion Distorts Sexuality will be published in late 2011.Visit IPCpress.com for more information. Amanda Brown is an undergraduate at Kansas University and isinterested in sexuality and sex therapy. Darrel Ray, Ed.D. and Amanda Brown 1
  2. 2. Sex and Secularismunfortunately, when we checked the next morning there were 2,500 responses and morecoming in by the hour. As a result we made the decision to go with the less than perfectversion so as not to lose 2,500 responses and others who were actively filling it out.There are no major flaws, but there were a number of things we would have adjusted orimproved. Our thanks to those who pointed out the flaws but completed the surveyanyway.Thanks Our thanks to many people who helped get the word out and make this asuccessful survey: PZ Myers, who was single handedly responsible for over half of ourrespondents; Adam Brown and atheismresource.com who was the first to help us get theword out; American Atheists and Blair Scott who were on board very early helping us getoff to a good start; Matt Dillahunty and The Atheist Experience; Chariots of Iron with Eliand Lamar, and Living After Faith Podcast with Rich and Deanna Joy. A special thanksto Richard Haynes and Atheist Nexus for sharing their population statistics as well aspublicizing our efforts.Basic Demographics All of the people in our survey were 18 years or older. The participant pool was69.4% male and 29.7% female with .2% intersexed and .7% answering “other.” Extraeffort was made to contact more females and people in the LGBT community, as they aretypically underrepresented in the secular population. Sexuality and religious upbringingwere also areas we were interested in examining. The 2008 ARIS survey reported that those reporting “no religion” had a gendergap of 60% men and 40% women.2 Of course, many of these may not classifythemselves as atheist, agnostic or even secular. Data from other sources shows that thesex ratio of the general secular community is about 21-25% female.3 The gender gap wesee is similar to those found in national research and from other sources. For furthercomparison, we acquired gender distribution statistics from the social website for atheistsand other secularists, Atheist Nexus. A/N has 32% female and 68% male. Statistics onour YouTube site with almost 70,000 views, shows a distribution of 20% female, 80%male. At 29.7%, it appears that the gender distribution in this study is similar to othersources. We do not claim that this is a representative sample of the secular community.The sample was obtained by publicizing the survey through a wide range of websitesincluding scientific sites. It is entirely possible that our sample is more scientifically and2 See: Americans Who Dont Identify with a Religion No Longer a Fringe Group, "Nones" now largelymirror Mainstream America, http://www.americanreligionsurvey-aris.org/2009/09/american_nones_the_profile_of_the_no_religion_population.html3 Membership of Atheist Nexus www.atheistnexus.org, Our own YouTube Channel focused mainly onatheist topics and with over 61,000 views since March 2009 shows 20% females. A study of sex ratioamong different nations found that 6% of US males were declared Atheist while only 1.2% of females or16.7% of the total atheists. Darrel Ray, Ed.D. and Amanda Brown 2
  3. 3. Sex and Secularismtechnically savvy than the average secularist. They are also probably younger sincemany college students participated.Age Distribution The overall sample in our survey is 47%, 30 or younger and 61.1%, 35 oryounger. The Pew US Religious Landscape Survey (2007) found 34-37% of atheists andagnostics were under 30.4 The 2008 ARIS survey found 22% of respondents who said,”no religion” were under 30 years old. This indicates that our sample is significantlyyounger than other surveys. At the same time, these surveys are 3-5 years old and wehave no way to know if the trend has continued, accelerated or decelerated. The growthin secular group membership in the last few years hints that it may be accelerating.5 Ourdata could well be within the current distribution of the secular population consideringgrowth rates in the last few years. The significantly younger sample could also bebecause younger people are more tech savvy and may be more interested in the topic (seeFig. 1 in Appendix). Our sample had a higher number, proportionally, of younger females than males.Females under 30 accounted for 52.2% of all females, while males under 30 only 44.3%of all males (see Fig 2 and 3 in Appendix).Sexual Identity There were differences male to female in sexual identity. Males reported 86%straight, 5.7% bisexual, 6.2% Gay, 2.1% pansexual, transsexual or “other.” Femalesreported 71% straight, 18.7% bisexual and 3.4% Lesbian and 3.9% pansexual ortranssexual with 3.1% “other.” The largest difference was in bisexuality, where womenwere more than three times that of men leading to a 15% difference between women andmen reporting “straight.” This is in line with other gender identity research that show amuch higher percentage of female bisexuals than male.6 At the same time, our samplehas a much higher proportion of non-straights than in the most recent National center forHealth Statistics which reported 1.8% of men consider themselves bisexual and 2.8% ofwomen. It is not possible to know what selection variables might be influencing oursample, but it may be as simple as leaving religion may allow more freedom to establisha sexual identity that was not possible while under the influence of religion. Anotherexplanation may be that tension between biological tendencies and religious restrictionslead people to leave religion in higher numbers than straight people. The differences in sexual identity between men and women was large. Amongwomen, 29.1% identify as non-straight e.g. Lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, transsexual.Thirteen percent of men identify as Gay, bisexual, etc. It is a confirmation of other4 See: http://religions.pewforum.org/reports5 Secular Student Alliance affiliate groups have increased from 179 to 239 in only one year. Membershipon AtheistNexus.org has increased over 100% in the last two years. ARIS 2009, American “Nones” are thefastest growing group in all 50 states.6 Lippa, R. A. (2007). The relation between sex drive and sexual attraction to men and women: Across-national study of heterosexual, bisexual, and homosexual men and women, Archives ofSexual Behavior, 36, 209-222. Available on line at:http://psych.fullerton.edu/rlippa/bbc_sexdrive.htm Darrel Ray, Ed.D. and Amanda Brown 3
  4. 4. Sex and Secularismresearch that indicates women’s sexual orientation is much more fluid and contextualthan men’s.7 Slightly more men were married than women (males 36%, females 33.8%).Combining all long-term relationship conditions; married, civil union, cohabiting or in asignificant long term relationship, etc. 60.9% of men and 64.5% of women are currentlyin a long term relationship. Cohabiting is a significant relationship status among thesesecularists,10.9% for men and 14.7% for women (see Fig. 4 in Appendix).Education Respondents were highly educated with 72.6% of those over 25 years old holdingan associates degree or higher, far exceeding the US national average of 49.1% with anAssociates or higher, age 25 or more (see Fig. 5 in Appendix).8 Both sexes were comparable in education with women holding slight leads at theBachelor and Master’s level. Eight percent of men hold doctorates and 5.7% of women.Income As one might expect from the education level statistics, this was an affluentgroup. Of those over 25 yrs., 60.4% earn over $50,000 with the median income range forthe group is $76-100,000 (15.8%) and 24.1% earned $100,000 or more (see Fig. 6 inAppendix). Comparing income data to that of other studies, it appears that we have a fairlyrepresentative sample of the secular community. The Pew Religious Landscape Survey(2007) found 25-28% of atheists and agnostics in the $100,000 plus range. Almostexactly the same as this survey. In the 50-75K range, our survey shows 20.5 while thePew found 16-19%. Also, 14.9% of respondents in this survey were in the $75-100Kbracket as compared to 15% in the Pew.Religious Affiliation and Experience By far the largest reported previous affiliations were Catholic at 19.7 andChristian Non-denominational at 14.4%. Behind these were all flavors of Baptists at7.1%, Lutheran at 4.8%, and Methodist at 4.8%. In our sample, 21.6% said they hadbeen non-theist since at least adolescence. The 2008 ARIS survey found 24% of thosereporting no religion were former Catholics and 7% were former Baptists. It also foundthat 32% of “nones” had been non-religious since age 12. The ARIS survey did not breakdown former religions into the detail this survey does, so comparisons are not veryprecise beyond these two former religions. Nevertheless, it appears that our sample isroughly comparable with the ARIS survey.7 Saron, A., Barch, B., Bailey, J. M., Gitelman, Dr. R., Parrish, T. B., and Reber, P.J. (2007). Neuralcorrelates of sexual arousal in homosexual and heterosexual men. Behavioral Neurosciences, 121 (2): 237-248.8 US Census Bureau for 2010 Darrel Ray, Ed.D. and Amanda Brown 4
  5. 5. Sex and Secularism !"#$%$&()"*&+"()",&-$%(.&/!"#$%$&01( U/0;5&>I2;.6;&6I;43XMA& #!%& J;Q;8/0&W.M&=:Q;8C6/& +#%& KE::036/& +#%& U5/01:1V&-0536C.8& +#%& S344.GL.B.8& +#%& T38:E& +#,%& N;01Q.0R6&S3/8;66& +#,%& P62.<& +#$%& O83/.53.8& +#)%& L;8/;416/.2& !#"%& F15<18& !#"%& NE:.36<& *#*%& L5;6?M/;53.8& *#)%& K.IC6/&>1/0;5A& (#!%& J1E/0;58&K.IC6/& (#,%& =8B234.8GHI3641I.23.8& #+%& F;/01:36/& #%& DE/0;5.8& #,%& =B816C4& $#+%& >?2.8@A& )#*%& =/0;36/& !#(%& -0536/#&7189:;81<38& !#%& -./01234& !"#$%& +#+%& ,#+%& !+#+%& !,#+%& *+#+%& *,#+%& Figure 7Current Affiliation The large majority or participants reported their current affiliation as Atheist orAgnostic (90.2%). The rest described themselves as humanist, spiritual, secularist or“other.” Darrel Ray, Ed.D. and Amanda Brown 5
  6. 6. Sex and Secularism Current Description Atheist 11217 (blank) 1210 Agnostic 820 Humanist 535 Other (please 516 specify) Spiritual 153 Secularist 108 0 2000 4000 6000 8000 10000 12000 Figure 8International Respondents Respondents were also from throughout the world. In all, 94 countries wererepresented with Canada accounting for 5.1% of the total and the UK just behind at 4.7%and Australia with 2.7%. No other country accounted for more than .75% and almost allwere far less (see Fig. 9 in Appendix). While this study was not designed to look at secularism outside the US, thelocation of respondents was not controlled. We also found that many of the participantsfrom other countries were either former residents or students in the US or were connectedto the US Military. The international data shows the group was not as religious to beginwith so it is unlikely to skew the data toward more religiosity. Later we will discussissues like guilt in religious upbringing. All these issues score lower in the internationalthan in the US group. The effects of religion on sexual behavior may actually be mutedby the international data. As can be seen in Fig. 10 (Appendix), 52% of internationalrespondents rated their childhood home religiosity 1, 2 or 3, very low. While only 31.2%of US respondents rated their home religiosity as low.How Long Non-Religious We were particularly interested in how long people have been non-religious.Atheism has been cited as one of the fastest growing “religious affiliations” in the US.Twenty-two percent said they have been non-religious less than 5 years. This is one infive joining the ranks of the non-religious in the last five years. Within those who havebeen non-religious five years or less, 72.3% were 30 or younger (see Fig. 11). This Darrel Ray, Ed.D. and Amanda Brown 6
  7. 7. Sex and Secularismparallels other national data showing younger people are more non-religious than thegeneral population. The decline after 30 is dramatic. Some have suggested that this isindicative of a generation that grew up with irreligious TV shows like Family Guy, TheSimpsons, and South Park, with the New Atheist books on library shelves and bookstoresas well as vast amounts of new information and videos on YouTube and other internetsources. These cultural influences came along at the same time as the 20-30 cohort was ina critical age of intellectual developmental. Figure 11Former Religious Affiliation Where are these new people coming from? We looked at the new secularistsformer religious affiliation to get an idea of what religious groups may be feeding into themovement today. This might speak to possible target audiences for the secular movement. Tworeligious groups are responsible for 46.7% of all new secularists. Of these newsecularists, 43.4 answered 7, 8, 9 or10 (very religious) on the question: “How religiouswas your childhood?: The two include Christian Non-Denominational and Catholic. Ifboth kinds of Baptists are included, it adds another 11.1%, for a total of 57.8% from justthree religions. Darrel Ray, Ed.D. and Amanda Brown 7
  8. 8. Sex and Secularism Secular 5 yrs. or Less, Former Relgion Congregational 0.03% Quaker 0.1% Mennonite 0.4% Church of Christ 0.6% Unitarian 0.6% Buddhist 0.7% Orthodox Christian 0.7% Seventh Day Adventist 0.8% Jehovahs Witness 0.8% Hindu 1.0% Atheist 2.0% Islam 2.1% Judaism 2.3% Presbyterian 3.1% Agnostic 3.1% Mormon 3.2% Anglican/Episcopalian 3.3% Pentecostal 3.6% Other (please specify) 3.9% Baptist (other) 4.9% Lutheran 5.0% Methodist 5.4% Southern Baptist 5.7% Catholic 22.6% Christian Non-denominational 24.1% 0.0% 5.0% 10.0% 15.0% 20.0% 25.0% 30.0% Figure 12 Of these new secularists, 65.2% were attending church once a week or morewithin the last five years. Twenty-five percent were attending two times a week or more.They were very steeped in religion and have made a significant change in a short time. The 2008 ARIS survey estimates that 8% of the US population identifies asChristian Non-Denominational. This group hardly registered in the 1990 survey with anestimate of only 200,000 people nation wide. In our survey, Non-Denominationalcomprises 24.1% of new secularists. This is a huge number and far exceeds the nationalpopulation size for this group. It appears that Non-Denominational is a gateway religionto atheism. More than any other religion, people seem to come into atheism from thisgroup. The second largest group are former Catholics who comprise 22.6% ofparticipants. This is a huge portion of the secular population but about the same as theproportion of Catholics in the US population (21%). Finally, the third largest group areformer Baptists. Combining former Southern Baptists and Baptist (other) is 11.1%. Darrel Ray, Ed.D. and Amanda Brown 8
  9. 9. Sex and SecularismBaptists are about 15.8% of the general population, so former Baptists are somewhatunder represented on the secular side. It is interesting to note, that the more liberal religions are not contributing asmuch as might be expected. Unitarians contributed .7% and Episcopalians 3.3% to oursample. According to the Pew US Religious Landscape Survey Unitarians are .3% of theUS population and Episcopalians 1.7% which means that they contribute roughly doubletheir numbers. These may be gateway religions but to a very small degree compared tothe Non-Denominationals. The pattern seems clear, the more conservative religions are contributing the mostnew members to the atheist community. At the same time, these are also the largest insize. It appears that the leap from fundamentalist or non-denominational to secular is notas prohibitive as might be expected. This seems counter intuitive until one reads thethousands of written responses by participants (which we are continuing to analyze).There are themes of intense searching, bible reading, efforts to conform and find thepromises of their religion, only to fail time and again. Ironically, the intense searching,bible reading and attempts to understand led many to recognize there were many thingsthey were not being told and much was hidden or poorly explained. Their reaction was toread outside sources and find viewpoints that contradicted their religion, which theyviewed as more reasonable. Secular 6 yrs. of More, Former Religion Mennonite 0.2% Quaker 0.2% Congregational 0.2% Church of Christ 0.2% Seventh Day Adventist 0.3% Buddhist 0.4% Orthodox Christian 0.4% Islam 0.4% Hindu 0.4% Jehovahs Witness 0.5% Unitarian 0.9% Pentecostal 1.5% Mormon 1.7% Judaism 2.4% Baptist (other) 2.9% Presbyterian 3.0% Southern Baptist 3.3% Other (please specify) 3.8% Methodist 4.7% Anglican/Episcopalian 4.8% Lutheran 4.9% Agnostic 9.0% Christian Non-denominational 13.1% Atheist 19.8% Catholic 21.1% 0.0% 5.0% 10.0% 15.0% 20.0% 25.0% Figure 13 Darrel Ray, Ed.D. and Amanda Brown 9
  10. 10. Sex and Secularism While new atheists are important, there are others who have been secular for asignificant length of time. This group appears different in that they are more formerCatholic and far less or them are former Non-Denominational. The mainline religionscontribute a few percent more in this group than in the 5 years or less group. A far largerportion (28.8%) of this group has been atheist or agnostic their entire lives. Comparing the 5 years or less group with the 6 years or more group, show thatChristian non-denominational are represented 11% more in the newer group. Catholicsare about the same in both groups (1.5% difference). Baptists have increased inproportion from 6.2% to 10.6%. If there is a “gateway religion”, it is non-denominationalism since it is sendingpeople into secularism faster than any other religion. Catholicism and Baptists are justbehind but might not be considered “gateway” since they are contributing at or less thantheir representation in the general population. Nevertheless, these three religionscontribute more than all other religions combined in both the 5 years or less and 6 yearsor more groups. Religion and Sexual Development Now for the reason you are actually reading this report. Sexual restriction is veryimportant to most religions. The reasons for this can be explored in The God Virus: HowReligion Infects Our Lives and Culture and the discussion on “the guilt cycle.”Consequently, we were most interested in what happens to sex and sexuality when aperson leaves religion.Guilt, religion and sex Our first hypotheses is that the more sexually restrictive a religion is the more ituses guilt. Religions may claim that guilt serves to modulate sexual behavior, but wehypothesize that it actually serves an entirely different purpose.9 As a result, we predictthat guilt will be higher among conservative religions. We asked two questions related to guilt. First: “How would you rate what youwere taught: How guilty you felt about sex and its implications on yourself?” As can beseen below, guilt certainly plays a role in different religions to a greater and lesserdegree. We could have listed more religions in the graph but decided not display any thatdid not have at least 15 respondents. The fewest included here are: Buddhist (18), Hindu(24), Mennonite (25), Church of Christ (31), Seventh Day Adventist (39).9 That purpose is to keep a person emotionally tied to a given religion. See discussion of “the guilt cycle”p. 90-91 of The God Virus: How Religion Infects Our Lives and Culture, IPC Press, 2009. Darrel Ray, Ed.D. and Amanda Brown 10
  11. 11. Sex and Secularism Guilt by Denomination 9.00 8.10 8.19 7.79 7.87 8.00 7.13 6.84 6.88 7.00 6.68 6.39 6.50 6.25 6.29 6.34 6.18 5.75 5.88 6.00 5.67 5.49 5.50 5.33 4.81 5.00 4.71 4.48 4.14 4.00 3.00 2.00 1.00 0.00 ) lic m W al n et y) n l At c on m of an t Lu ist s (o t Ad er) ec t sp st ite Bu ist (b u n op t na ris is is s nk i es ria ria d ra st t i hi la is if om tho d pt nt as Chr he m i os in on th io al Ch itn ec la Pr the no da ho Is dd ta te H or Ba ve at nn en Ca by ni Ag Ju M of in ho ent sc So Me U rn t M es e s is ch es pi h he ay P pt /E va pl ur le Ba ut D ci an Ch (p -d h is ic nt Je on D er gl ve th N An Se O n tia ris Ch Figure 14 As seen in the teachings of the various religions, the more liberal rely less on guiltthan the more conservative. Conservative religions teach guilt and proscribe manybehaviors such as sex before marriage, masturbation, oral sex and sex outside ofmarriage, and use religious based approaches to sex education with emphasis onabstinence only, failing to teach about birth control, condom use and abortion. As aresult, we looked for a measurable difference among the various religions with respect toguilt.10 The question asked in the survey is focused on teachings before they left religion.As we can see, there is a difference between religions in their use of guilt. Unitarians arefar less guilt focused than Islam or Catholicism. At the same time, Baptists, Pentecostals,Jehovah’s Witness and Mormons are the highest in guilt. We debated whether to includeIslam in this graph or in other parts of the report. There were only 107 former Muslims10 If asked, an informed reader could probably make a list of various types of religions and would be able tocreate a graph of liberal religions on the left, moderate religions in the center and conservative religions onthe right. Such a list would most likely resemble the graph above. There is the possibility that it is not justreligion influencing the use of guilt but general tendencies by individuals toward more liberal orconservative lifestyles and political beliefs, irrespective of religion. Conservatives may be more prone orattracted to guilt-based messages. We did not test this idea, and further research should be done to see whatinfluences political tendencies might play in guilt. At the same time, as we will see later in this report,much of our data closely aligns with all other recent major national studies. These studies did notspecifically look at secularists, but at samples of the general population. This would lead us to believe thatwe are seeing direct effects of religion rather than some third variable like conservatism vs liberalism. Darrel Ray, Ed.D. and Amanda Brown 11
  12. 12. Sex and Secularismand they were from a number of different countries including Turkey, Lebanon, Sweden,Morocco, Pakistan, Indonesia, the US and others as well as different branches of Islam.As a result of geographical and cultural variance, the guilt scores may be less accuratethan those from the range of religions predominantly in the West and US. From thescores and comments of former Muslims, many were raised more secular although somewere raised in observant homes. We decided to leave them in, but these results shouldprobably be interpreted with caution. The second “guilt” related question we asked was, “When you were religious(assuming you were) did you ever feel guilty about a specific activity or desire.” For thiscomparison, we took those who scored their childhood home as a 1, 2 or 3 (less religious)against those who scored 8, 9 or 10 (most religious). People raised in the least religious(most liberal homes) answered “Yes” to this question 26.3% of the time, while thoseraised in the most religious homes answers “Yes” 79.9%. The difference is quitedramatic, 53.6% between the two groups. At least in the experience of these participants,being raised in a religious home shows a high level of sexual guilt compared to thoseraised in more a more liberal home. When Religious, Were You Guilty  About a Speci9ic Activity or Desire?    90.0%  80.0%  70.0%  60.0%  50.0%  40.0%  30.0%  20.0%  10.0%  0.0%  Yes  No  Least Religious  26.3%  73.7%  Home 1, 2 or 3  Most Religious Home  79.9%  20.1%  8, 9 or 10  Figure 15 Most and Least Religious For much of the next section we will be comparing those who reported that theygrew up in very religious homes vs. those who grew up in less religious or secular homes.We will be looking at those who rated their home as 1, 2 or 3 (low religiosity) on thequestion “How religious was your childhood home?” and those who rated 8, 9 or 10 (highreligiosity). Darrel Ray, Ed.D. and Amanda Brown 12
  13. 13. Sex and Secularism We looked at church attendance between the two groups. In the most religiousgroup, 94.6% reported church attendance of once a week or more. Within that group,40.4% reported 2-3 times a week attendance. Within the least religious group, 10.9%reported weekly attendance with .3% reporting attendance of 2-3 times a week when theywere children. This is an 84.7% difference between the groups on church attendance.The most religious group was being exposed to religion far more than the least religious.Onset of Sexual Behavior – Least and Most Religious Per our hypothesis, we predicted that levels of guilt would have little or no effecton actual sexual behavior. Those showing most guilt would exhibit similar sexualbehavior to those who had little if any guilt around sexual activities. The common view of religious sexual guilt is that it is designed to control,prevent or stop behaviors like masturbation or sex outside of marriage. Our hypothesis isthat guilt serves an entirely different purpose unrelated to actual sexual behavior. If weare correct, we should see few if any differences between those who are most and leastguilty in the age of onset of masturbation, oral sex or sexual intercourse. We would alsosee no difference in other behaviors like use of pornography or sexual experimentation.At the same time, since conservative religion uses guilt, shame and fear more than liberalreligions, we would expect to see a measurable difference between groups in the attitudeand behavior of parents around issues of sex. To test this, we looked at the onset of three sexual behaviors that are clearlydisapproved by most religions – masturbation, oral sex and intercourse before age 18.For each of these questions we received at or above 3,900 answers on the least religiousside and above 2,100 answers on the most religious side. (Those not included scoredtheir childhood home as 4, 5, 6 or 7 on religiosity.) Most conservative religions disapprove of masturbation in or out of marriage.Some, like James Dobson of Focus on the Family, claim that children will do it and youcan’t really stop them but still disapprove of it. They also say that after marriage, it isdestructive. Both Islam and Catholicism have explicit teachings against it, citing the storyof Onan or St. Jerome or Mohammed’s instructions in the Koran.11,12 If religious guiltmethods are working, we should see unambiguous differences between those raised in themost religious homes and those who were raised in less religious or secularenvironments. We found that 86.7% of the more secular were masturbating by age15 and92.8% by age 18. The most religious were engaging in masturbation 83% by age 15 and11 Genesis Chapter 38, Onan was ordered to have sex with his deceased brother’s wife in line with his dutyto keep his brother’s bloodline going. He did not want to have children with her so he used coitusinteruptus when he had intercourse, spilling his seed. For this he was sentenced to death by Yahweh. OrJerome, Against Jovinian 1:19, (AD 393) “…or Onan, who was slain because he grudged his brother hisseed. Does he imagine that we approve of any sexual intercourse except for the procreation of children?"12 The Quran, chapter 23 (Al-Muminun), verse 5 to 7: “And who guard their private parts, Except before their mates or those whom their right hands possess, for they surely are not blamable, But whoever seeks to go beyond that, these are they that exceed the limits.” Darrel Ray, Ed.D. and Amanda Brown 13
  14. 14. Sex and Secularism90% by age 18, a meager 2.8% difference for all the energy expended on guilt. It appearsthat guilt has little effect on masturbatory behavior. To better understand how participants were treated regarding masturbatoryactivity, we wanted to see if shame or other emotionally coercive methods were used byparents. We asked, “Were you shamed or ridiculed by a parent or guardian formasturbatory activities?” The least religious answered “Yes” 5.5% of the time. Themost religious said “Yes” 22.5%. An examination of the open-ended answers to thisquestion revealed the great difficulty these people had as children dealing with thereligious teachings and their natural urges. Here is a sample of responses from the mostreligious group.I still did it, but was extremely embarrassed and felt that I was sinning. I constantly feltlike I was a bad person for having those feelings and desires.It was embarrassing. I felt like something was wrong with me.…being caught masturbating caused me to be beaten until I couldnt stand up.After masturbating I would feel heavy guilt. I wouldnt dare tell anyone what I was doingbut the guilt drove me to beg for forgiveness and to make deals with god if I did it again.Of course I always did it again. The shame I would feel was overwhelming, felt as if I wasintentionally hurting god. It took years to get away from that feeling.I used to masturbate and then perform the Islamic ritual cleansing and beg Allah forforgiveness. I tried to stop but my sexual desire was worse when I didnt than when I did.I worried not only about sin, but also about the fact that my mother told me that if Imasturbated, Id have problems with my future husband.One measure of the problems this created is seen in the sheer number of comments andstories people put in the survey. Of the most religious group, 28.3% wrote some kind oftext response, virtually all recounted problems with guilt, shame, punishment, etc. Of theleast religious 8.5% left written comments, many were qualitatively different andsometimes humorous:Not shamed exactly, but scolded for absconding with Dads Playboys/Penthouses.It never came up, but it was not an issue because the sex talk included the fact thatmasturbation was completely normal.They didnt know; or if they did, they never brought it up. However, I still felt like I wasdoing something wrong.Not really, but my mom found my porn at one point. She informed me she didnt approve,and kindly asked me to remove it from her hard-drive (and put it on my own, portable, if Ifelt the need to). Darrel Ray, Ed.D. and Amanda Brown 14
  15. 15. Sex and SecularismMy older sisters and their boyfriends would constantly ask, "Do you play with yourself?"Heck, yeah! Every chance I had. Masturbation is easily hidden and needs no partner, so we asked two questionsabout behavior that involves others and is disapproved by conservative religions but fallsshort of actual intercourse. “How old were you when you became sexually active? (eg.Kissing, touching, rubbing, etc.)” - also called petting, and “How old were you when youhad your first oral sex interaction (Oral Sex: mouth to genital contact with or withoutclimax/orgasm).” Those least religious started petting by age 15, 47.9% of the time, and 84.4% byage 18. The most religious were petting 43.8% at age 15 and 81.1 by 18. A difference of3.3% between these two groups at age 18. With respect to oral sex, 20% of the least religious had experienced oral sex byage 15 and 62.5% by age 18. The most religious had oral sex by age 15, 18.6% of thetime and by age 18, 55.1%, 7.4% difference. This difference might be attributable toreligious training. Guilt may play a small part in the slightly later onset. At the same timewell over half of religiously raised children are not following the training of their religion– they are having oral sex anyway. The third question dealt with sex outside of marriage, “Was sex outside ofmarriage considered ‘sinful’ or ‘immoral’ by your family of origin?” Those from moresecular homes said, “yes” 13.0% while those from the most religious homes said “yes.88.7%, a dramatic difference of 75.7%. Undoubtedly, the most religious children weregetting the message but did it impact their behavior? The biggest taboo for most religions is sex before marriage, so we asked, “Howold were you when you had genital-to-genital intercourse” (e.g.: vagina-penispenetration, anal-penis penetration, vagina-vulva rubbing…” 17.8% of those from theleast religious homes had had intercourse by age 15 and 62.1 by age 18. The mostreligious said 16.1% by age 15 and 53.1% at age 18. A 9% difference between thosemost and least religious. By age 21 the least religious had engaged in intercourse 87.9%and the most religious 84%. The religious groups falls behind by 9% at age 18 but hasvirtually caught up by age 21. Darrel Ray, Ed.D. and Amanda Brown 15
  16. 16. Sex and Secularism Progressive Sexual Activity by Age and Religiosity 100 90 80 70 60 Percent 50 40 30 20 10 0 Non-religious Non-religious Non-religious Religious 15 Relgious 18 Relgious 21 15 18 21 Masturbation 83 86.7 90 92.8 94.1 96.1 Petting 43.8 47.97 81.1 84.4 94.2 95.3 Oral Sex 18.6 20 55.1 62.5 82.3 86.1 Intercourse 16.1 17.8 53.1 62.1 84 87.9 Figure 16 To summarize, we see a 2.8% difference in masturbation, a 3.3% difference inpetting, a 7.4% difference in oral sex and a 9% difference in intercourse at age 18. All ofthese differences are very small or non-existent by age 21. Religiosity seems to have asmall relationship with the delay of these sexual behaviors. We see the greatestdifference in the age 18 category, where the intercourse difference is 9% but the religiousgroup has almost caught up by age 21 with a 3.9% difference. In both groups, thenumber of adolescents having intercourse is remarkably high. If religiosity and guiltinhibits behavior, it is marginal at best. Religious children get the message that sexoutside of marriage is wrong but they do it anyway. They just feel guilty about it. The following two graphs (Fig. 17, 18) are a comparison of age of intercoursebetween least and most religious in all age groups. It is a more comprehensive look at themost religiously prohibited behavior. Were religion an important factor in sexualbehavior, we would expect to see an unambiguous difference between these two graphs.Just as the abstinence only research has shown, religion delays the beginning ofintercourse by months at best, or not at all, but does increase the incidence of unprotectedand risky sex by teenagers when they do begin sexual activity.13 1413 “Not only is there no credible evidence that these millions of dollars have any positive effect, there isreason to be concerned that young people who receive the abstinence-only curricula in school will not havethe tools to protect themselves in sexual situations.” Abstinence Only vs.Comprehensive Sex Education:What are the arguments? What is the evidence? Chris Collins, M.P.P., Priya Alagiri, J.D., Todd Summers,AIDS Policy Research Center & Center for AIDS Prevention Studies AIDS Research Institute University ofCalifornia, San Francisco Policy Monograph Series – March 200214 “Findings indicate that, despite the effects seen after the first year, programs had no Darrel Ray, Ed.D. and Amanda Brown 16
  17. 17. Sex and Secularism Figure 17 Figure 18statistically significant impact on eventual behavior. Based on data from the final follow-upsurvey, youth in the program group were no more likely to abstain from sex than theircontrol group counterparts; among those who reported having had sex, program and controlgroup youth had similar numbers of sexual partners and had initiated sex at the same meanage.” Impacts of Four Title V, Section 510 Abstinence Education Programs Final Report April 2007Christopher Trenholm, et. Al. Darrel Ray, Ed.D. and Amanda Brown 17
  18. 18. Sex and Secularism Our data are virtually identical to those of other national surveys regardingadolescent onset of sexual activity but we bring the additional dimension of guilt and itsimpact or lack thereof on behavior. Biology seems to trump religion despite the millionsof dollars and hours devoted to teaching religious children how to behave within theirreligious restrictions. By age 21, the gap between most and least religious havingintercourse has narrowed to 89.1 vs. 85.5 a 3.6% difference. Other general studies ofsexuality show that 95% all adults have had premarital sex by the time they marryincluding, we believe, most ministers who tout abstinence only.15 We were concerned that our sample is different than other national surveys sincemost who participated are now secular. As we can see from the above data, those whoparticipated in our survey look like normal teenagers when they were adolescents basedon the age of onset reported in other studies.16 In the written comments fromrespondents, we saw that those from the most religious homes were genuinely sincereabout their religious beliefs when they were younger. For most, their change to a secularview of the world came after their adolescent sexual experiences. While we can’t ruleout that they are somehow different, it appears that the only difference is that they areprobably more intelligent since their level of education is significantly higher than thegeneral population.Sex Education Conservative religions give guilt messages, teach abstinence and fail to teachbasic lessons in safe sex, relationship negotiation, abortion, and the biology of sex. Atleast that appears to be the case in the programs analyzed by the Mathematica PolicyResearch study of federally funded abstinence only programs (2007).17 To betterunderstand the sexual education level of our participants, we looked at how the twogroups evaluated their sex education and found some remarkable differences. First, we asked, “Did at least one parent talk to you about sex?” The leastreligious answered “Yes” 61.8% of the time. The most religious answered “Yes” 50.2%of the time. Religious groups are most adamant that the parents or churches shoulddecide and conduct sex education not schools or other entities. It is somewhat ironic thatthe parents of the least religious seemed to communicate with their children better.Neither group is particularly high, but non-religious parents fare better by 11.6%. Next, we asked participants to rate, “The quality of the education you receivedregarding sex?” The least religious most secular rated their childhood sex education a 3.2on a five point scale. The most religious group gave a 2.4 score. This is a 0.8 (16%)difference between the groups. From this answer, it appears that the more secular weregiven better sex education than the more religious.15 Guttmacher Institute, Dec. 19. 2006, Premarital Sex is Nearly Universal Among Americans, And HasBeen for Decades, http://www.guttmacher.org/media/nr/2006/12/19/index.html16 Trends in Premarital Sex in the United States, 1954-2003, Lawrence B. Finer, Ph.D. Public HealthReports, Jan-Feb 2007, Vol. 12217 Impacts of Four Title V, Section 510 Abstinence Education Programs Final Report April 2007Christopher Trenholm, et. al. Darrel Ray, Ed.D. and Amanda Brown 18
  19. 19. Sex and Secularism Suspecting that most children do not get their sexual information from parents, weasked a broader question “Who could you talk to about sex?” They could choose up tothree main sources. The graphs below show remarkable differences between the groups. While neither group put parents at the top of their list, the non-religious said theycould talk to their parents 38.2% while religious children said only 13.5%. So where didthese children get their sex education? Both say friends and peers are the greatest sourceof information (75% and 70%) but the next areas get very interesting. Both groups saypersonal experience is the second highest but the religious group puts it at 50.2% whereasthe less religious say 42.4%. In other words, the religious kids were learning from sexualexperience more than the less religious! Even more interesting is the next highest sourceof information. Pornography is 33% for the religious group and 25.2% for the non-religious. Most religions preach incessantly against pornography, yet it is the religiouschildren in this sample that used it more. Finally, the internet is a key source ofinformation for the religious kids 31.4% vs. 27.1% for the less religious. It appears that the things religions preach against most - sexual experimentation,pornography and the internet - are what religious kids may use the most, while failing totalk to their parents. Non-religious kids seem to be following the religious proscriptionsbetter than the religious ones. Figure 19 Darrel Ray, Ed.D. and Amanda Brown 19
  20. 20. Sex and Secularism Figure 20Sex When Still Religious We wanted to look at how people felt about sex after they became sexually activebut before they left religion. One area that is discouraged by religions of all kinds isfantasizing about someone else while having sex with your spouse or partner. We askedif they had fantasized about others when they were still religious and if they felt it waswrong. The least religious said they had fantasized about others 13.4% of the time whilethe religious said 35.8% of the time. Of those who fantasized, the less religious felt itwas wrong 6.2% of the time but the religious said it was wrong 46.1% of the time, a43.7% difference. The less religious fantasized less but believed it was perfectly ok. Themore religious fantasized more and felt it was wrong. Religious proscriptions do not seemto be working. It may be a case of guilt driving rather than stopping behavior. According to some sex experts, the ability to openly share sexual fantasies with apartner is a proxy for less inhibition and guilt between a couple.18 We asked “Before youleft religion, did you believe that it was wrong to discuss or act out fantasies with yourpartner?” The less religious said “yes” 3.9% while the more religious said “Yes” 40%.Many religions teach that sexual fantasies are dangerous even in marriage. Jesus said"But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committedadultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28 NKJV).19 For this reason sharing fantasies18 The Intimate Couple, http://www.the-intimate-couple.com/sharing-sexual-fantasies.html, The Art ofLovemaking, http://www.no-problem-marriage-counseling.com/love-making.html19 Many religionists think masturbating is sinful because it often involves fantasizing. Reference the USSenate candidate and conservative religionist from Connecticut, Christine O’Donnell, and her famouscomment that masturbation is sinful because it involves fantasy. Darrel Ray, Ed.D. and Amanda Brown 20
  21. 21. Sex and Secularismwould not only be a sin on the part of the person having the fantasy but a sin on the partof the partner for participating in such a sinful act.Sex After Religion We were interested in how people adjusted sexually after leaving religion. Weasked “After leaving religion do you still harbor any fear or guilt when or if thinkingabout someone else while having sex?” the most religious said “Yes” 16.6% of the time,“No” 64.5%. of the time The least religious said “No” 59.4% of the time with 8.2%saying “Yes”. This shows a decline in guilty feelings after leaving religion, especiallyamong those who were most religious. Before leaving religion, the most religious feltguilty 46.1% of the time, and after, 16.6% of the time, a 29.5% decrease in guilt . We were interested in how former religious guilt and trauma may be acted out orchanneled after leaving religion. Many sexual fetishes have religious overtones so weasked, “Do you have a fetish? A fetish is a form of sexual desire in which gratificationdepends on some object, item of clothing, and/or part of the body.” About 27.1% of therespondents reported having a fetish, some in very graphic terms, but there was nodifference between the least (26.7%) and most religious groups (28.1%). It seems that, atleast in this area, there are no residual effects of religion. Interestingly, we got over 1,700written comments to the fetish question. We will come back to analyze those later in thisreport. For an estimate of how much religion affected sexuality and sex life before andafter they left religion we asked on a scale of 1-10, “When you were religious what wasthe amount of influence religion had on your sexuality?” and “When you were religiouswhat was the amount of influence religion had on your sex life?” For the least religious,they said religion had little or no effect on their sexuality or sex life 1.87 for bothquestions. The most religious answered 5.68 and 6.27. The most religious also rated thesex life question 8, 9 or 10 - 47.8%! Their sex life was extremely affected by religion. We wondered how sex had changed since leaving religion so we asked, “On ascale of 1-10 with 1 much worse and 10 greatly improved, ‘Now that you are non-religious, how has your sex life changed?’” The least religious report a 5.57 or “aboutthe same” or slightly improved, whereas people from the most religious homes report a7.81 or much improved. 61.6% gave an 8, 9 or 10 - greatly improved. For the mostreligious, getting religion out of their lives seemed to make a huge difference in their sexlife. Looking at the entire sample with 9414 people answering the question, ‘Now thatyou are non-religious, how has your sex life changed? In Figure 21 we can see two majorclusters with 29.6% seeing no change, and 54.6% of participants scoring their sex life 8,9, or 10 -very improved. Only 2.2% of participants felt it was worse. At least within oursample, sex life improved significantly after religion. Darrel Ray, Ed.D. and Amanda Brown 21
  22. 22. Sex and Secularism How Has Your Sex Life Changed?  40.0%  35.0%  30.0%  25.0%  20.0%  15.0%  10.0%  5.0%  0.0%  Figure 21 We correlated responses to two of the above mentioned questions, “When youwere religious what was the amount of influence religion had on your sex life?” and“Now that you are non-religious, how has your sex life changed?” Both were on a 1-10scale. These correlated r = .46220 or about 21% of the variance (N=4857), more evidencepointing to an improvement after leaving religion. We also compared women to men, to see if there was any difference in sexualsatisfaction after leaving religion. There was no difference between the sexes in theamount of change they experienced since leaving religion. Both rated the improvementin their sex life at 6.5, clearly improved since leaving religion. To assess the amount of adjustment people made after religion we asked, “Nowthat you are non-religious, have you changed or adjusted your sexuality? e.g. becomeopenly gay, became polyamorous, experimented with bisexuality, etc.?” The leastreligious said “Yes” or “Somewhat” 19.1% where the most religious said “Yes” and“Somewhat” 47%. Those who were most religious seem to have changed their sexualbehavior the most since leaving religion – by 27.9%. Most religions put more restrictions on women than on men. Contrasting thesexes and using the entire sample, men reported that they had changed or adjusted theirsexuality 26.9% since leaving religion, while women said 38.6%. Perhaps women arefeeling less restriction once leaving religion. They are making adjustments 11.7% morethan men.20 Pearson product moment correlation coefficient Darrel Ray, Ed.D. and Amanda Brown 22
  23. 23. Sex and Secularism Earlier we discussed the distinct difference in the use of guilt by denomination(Fig. 14), we hypothesized that leaving religion would lead to a measurable improvementin sexual satisfaction and a decrease in the amount of guilt. Those from the most guilt-based religions would show the greatest drop in guilt and biggest increase in sexualsatisfaction. Sorting the responses by denomination/religion and using the entire sample,we found a clear pattern of improvement in sexual satisfaction. Those leaving the leastguilt-based churches saw little or no improvement, while those escaping high guilt basedreligions saw significant improvement. Keeping in mind that a score of 5.0 meant “nochange”, we can see that every religion, except Unitarian, shows an improvement. Atleast according to this data, every religion, except Unitarian, has a negative effect onsexual satisfaction. We also left lifelong atheists and agnostics in the analysis if theyanswered the question. Their sexual satisfaction did not change even though many ofthem grew up in a religious atmosphere. The guilt training did not take with them.Residual Effects We hypothesized that a strongly guilt based religious upbringing would have alasting or residual effect on people after leaving religion. Examination of the datashowed that sexual satisfaction was hardly impacted regardless of previous religiousupbringing. In other words, those raised in the most restricted religious environmentscaught up with everyone else very rapidly after leaving religion. It seems the guiltmessages don’t stick around very long. That is not to say that some are not still botheredby thoughts and feelings of guilt, but they were a small minority. At the same time, therewas a difference between the most and least religious groups in terms of anger they stillfeel about their religious training. In response to the question: How much anger do youexperience towards religion because of how it affected your sexuality? The average ratingamong the most religious was 4.20 (10 being highest) while those from the least religiousbackground scored 1.83. Among the most religious, 23% scored their anger at 8, 9 or 10while only 4.3% experience high anger among the least religious. This shows a differencein how they view past training but does not seem to impact their current level ofsatisfaction. Darrel Ray, Ed.D. and Amanda Brown 23
  24. 24. Sex and Secularism Now That You are Non-Religious, How Has our Sex Life Changed? Atheist 5.2 Agnostic 5.2 Unitarian 5.2 Hindu 5.5 Judaism 5.5 Buddhist 5.9 Wicca/Pagan 5.9 Quaker 6.0 Anglican/Episcopalian 6.1 Congregational 6.3 Presbyterian 6.4 Other (please specify) 6.5 Lutheran 6.5 Methodist 6.6United Church of Christ 6.7 Christian Science 6.7 Catholic 6.7 (blank) 6.8 Islam 6.8 New-Age 6.9 Christian Non- 6.9 Orthodox Christian 7.0 Southern Baptist 7.3 Nazarene 7.4 Baptist (other) 7.5 Church of Christ 7.6 Pentecostal 8.0Seventh Day Adventist 8.1 Mormon 8.2 Mennonite 8.3 Jehovahs Witness 8.4 1.0 3.0 5.0 7.0 9.0 1= Worse, 5=No Change, 10-Greatly Improved Figure 22 Darrel Ray, Ed.D. and Amanda Brown 24
  25. 25. Sex and Secularism Out of 7,709 participants who answered the “sex life change” question, theaverage score was 6.51. A majority, 51.5% felt their sex life had improved after leavingreligion, 38,6% said it was about the same and 10% felt their sex life had gotten worse. An examination of the written responses of those who said their sex life wasworse, showed that becoming non-religious often led to a decrease in sex with theirspouse or made it more difficult to find a compatible partner but no other patterns wereapparent.“Since leaving religion, I have not had a physical or emotional relationship with mywife.”“Since becoming an atheist I have not met anyone who does not have some religious orspiritual belief system. As a result, life is very lonely. I am proactively meeting newsingle members of the opposite sex, in an effort to find someone who does not believe inthe supernatural.”Relationship’s Impact on Sex Life About 67.1% of respondents said they are currently in a long-term relationship.We were interested in how religious or non-religious spouses affect sex life. We asked,“How religious is your spouse/partner?” The answer was surprising. The average spousewas rated a 2.15 on religiosity (on a 10 pt. scale). It seems that our sample, whetherformerly religious or not, has managed to find partners who are low in religiosity. We asked the religious affiliation of their spouse and found that 67.6% werepartnered with agnostics or atheists. Next were Christian Non-Denominational (11.1%)and Catholic spouses (8.6%). We asked, “How much does your spouse/partner’sreligiosity affect your sex life?” The average was 1.68 or “doesn’t affect.” One-hundredand two people out of 2,789 (3.65%), said that their spouse’s religion seriously affectstheir sex life 9 or 10. With so few respondents married to highly religious people, thereis less possibility of religion interfering in the first place but for these people, it is aserious problem. We received 1496 written responses to this question. Most were positive orneutral, but there were many that described current or past problems related to religioustraining.“My wife was Muslim when we began dating. Her family suppressed any knowledge ofsex, and I had to teach her nearly everything. She is still somewhat ashamed of her body,and sometimes gets embarrassed by lewd language in talking about sex.”“We came to nonbelief together, so we cooperated in adjusting our beliefs about whensex is appropriate. My girlfriend is more open to sex than I was, but Ive been more opento enjoying sex over the past couple of months. I dont feel like she pressured me intohaving sex, but without talking about sex with her, I probably wouldnt have initiated sexmyself.”“Its a positive affect. If he wasnt an atheist, I would never have felt comfortableexploring BDSM. I would never have taken sexuality into account when choosing a Darrel Ray, Ed.D. and Amanda Brown 25
  26. 26. Sex and Secularismrelationship. Without his complete lack of religion, I would never have shown this side ofmy sexuality to anyone.”“Partners past religiosity can still prevent her from fully opening up and appreciatingher sexuality/sex life.”“Religious upbringing still influences my now atheist partner in a negative way.”Sexual entertainment Religions certainly disapprove of pornography, so we were curious how muchpeople used it, especially when they were still religious. As we saw earlier, teens areusing porn by age 18 no matter how religious their parents are. We asked severalquestions about porn use and when they started using it. Over all, 88% of respondentsused pornography but there were differences between men and women. Men said theyused pornography 93.7% while women said 76%. There were distinct differencesbetween the sexes. Women preferred erotic novels (43.4%) and videos with plot lines(40%) followed by internet shorts (36.5%). Men preferred internet shorts (71.1%)followed by pictures (69.3%) and videos with plot line (61%). The following graphsshow the distribution of porn use by gender. Figure 23 Darrel Ray, Ed.D. and Amanda Brown 26
  27. 27. Sex and Secularism Figure 24 We asked, “When did you start partaking in pornography?” 62.3% were usingporn by 15 and 79.4% by age 18. When we looked at the least religious 65.4% wereusing by 15 and 82.1% by age 18 and 90.4% by 21. The most religious were using porn58.7% of the time by 15 and 76.2% by age 18 and by 21, they were up to 87.7%. It lookslike the religious started using porn a little later than the non-religious, but they caught uprapidly and were virtually equal by age 25 (94.9 vs 94%). If porn is as bad as religionssay it is, they aren’t doing a very good job of keeping it out of the hands of children andadolescents, 20% or more of both groups said they were using porn by 12 years old. Forall the billboards and sermons against porn, there seems to be little return on theinvestment. There was also a gender difference in the age when people started using porn.While 76% of women said they used porn, they started later. The median for males was13-15 years (40.9%) and the median for females was 16-18 years (22.8%). By age 30,95% of females that eventually use porn were using it. Males reached the 90% level by21. Women start two or more years later than men and use it 17.7% less. As we noted earlier, porn as a source of sexual information was surprisingly highamong the most religious groups. We decided to look at the most and least religiousgroups and see when they started using porn. As you can see in this next chart, the mostreligious start a little later but they catch up by age 30. Darrel Ray, Ed.D. and Amanda Brown 27
  28. 28. Sex and Secularism First Pornography Use by Gender45.0%40.0%35.0%30.0%25.0%20.0%15.0%10.0%5.0%0.0% 0-5 6-8 9-12 13-15 16-18 19-21 22-25 26-30 31-35 36-40 41-45 46+Female 0.7% 2.0% 12.2% 19.8% 22.8% 20.0% 11.8% 5.7% 2.3% 1.7% 0.6% 0.5%Male 0.6% 3.4% 25.5% 40.9% 17.4% 5.8% 2.8% 1.5% 0.8% 0.4% 0.3% 0.5% Figure 25 First Porn Use by Religiosity 40.0% 35.0% 30.0% 25.0% 20.0% 15.0% 10.0% 5.0% 0.0% 0-5 6-8 9-12 13-15 16-18 19-21 22-25 26-30 31-35 36-40 41-45 46+ Least Religious 0.8% 3.6% 22.9% 34.9% 18.6% 9.4% 4.8% 2.0% 1.2% 0.8% 0.4% 0.6% Most Religious 0.8% 2.6% 18.5% 32.7% 20.0% 11.5% 6.6% 4.2% 1.7% 0.8% 0.4% 0.3% Figure 26 Darrel Ray, Ed.D. and Amanda Brown 28
  29. 29. Sex and Secularism We were most interested in religion’s effect on porn use. If religion’sproscriptions are effective, we should see a clear difference between those who are mostand least religious in the teen years when they are getting strong messages from theirreligion about sex. Looking only at men, we can see in the next chart, that there is verylittle difference between the groups. By age 18, 3.5% separates the two groups and byage 21, 1.5%. While religious kids seem to use porn slightly less, they are still very closeto the least religious. This suggests that the effect of religion is negligible for men. First Porn Use Male Only 45.0% 40.0% 35.0% 30.0% 25.0% 20.0% 15.0% 10.0% 5.0% 0.0% 0-5 6-8 9-12 13-15 16-18 19-21 22-25 26-30 31-35 36-40 41-45 46+ Least Religious 0.9% 4.2% 26.2% 39.9% 17.2% 5.5% 2.7% 1.1% 0.9% 0.4% 0.3% 0.6% Most Religious 0.6% 3.1% 22.7% 39.9% 19.1% 7.0% 3.1% 2.3% 1.0% 0.5% 0.4% 0.3% Least Religious Most Religious Figure 27 Because women begin to view pornography two or more years later than men, itis complicated to see the effects of religion on porn use. By the time women are 23 orolder, many have lost their religion and may not be susceptible to religious guilt andshame any longer. While we would guess that religion has little or no effect on women’sporn use, the smaller group size and older age of onset made it problematic to test thathypothesis for women. One of the criticisms of our research will undoubtedly be that the people in oursample “were never really religious or truly Christian” so that is why porn use us so highamong the religious. While we think there is ample evidence within our data to refutethat, other research by Ogas and Gaddam further supports our claim. They found thatone-third of the subscribers to Today’s Christian Women website seek out eroticaonline. That is just one religious website among many.21 In addition, other research has21 Ogas, Ogi and Gaddam, Sal, A Billion Wicket Thoughts: What the Worlds Largest Experiment Revealsabout Human Desire, Dutton 2011 Darrel Ray, Ed.D. and Amanda Brown 29
  30. 30. Sex and Secularismconsistently shown that the most religious states and locations have higher internet pornuse with Utah and Mississippi leading the way. This research also found that states withthe most restrictive sexual legislation also have the highest porn use. They site stateswith Defense of Marriage legislation as having 11% higher porn use.22 No matter whereone looks, the use of porn seems as high or higher among the religious. This leads us tobelieve that the formerly religious in our sample were probably typical in many waysbefore they left religion. Current Sexual Functioning Looking at sexual activity, intercourse or masturbation, we found that 52.7% ofwomen engage in some kind of sexual activity at least 2-3 times a week and 12.2% daily.76.5% of men engage 2-3 times a week and 29.7% daily. The level of sexual activity is at or around that of other studies. In our sample68.6% engaged in some kind of sexual activity two times a week to more than once aday. A total of 86.6% engage in some sexual activity weekly or more often. Thecomments from this question showed that many people were very active but also foundthat life gets in the way.“Right now? Once a month, maybe? But its not really by choice. I started law school sixmonths ago. If youve been to law school, youd understand. I spend my 5 hours offreedom every night dead asleep. I am too tired to masturbate. (Never go to law school.)” Only about 50 people in our entire sample said they never engaged in any kind ofsexual activity. Those who were sexless sited lack of desire or medical reasons and a fewfelt they were asexual.Fantasy Life Fantasizing is an important activity for many people. With or without a partner,people still fantasize. We asked how often they fantasized and found that men fantasizedaily 53.3% and 90.4 fantasize once a week or more. Women fantasize daily 27.7% andweekly or more 76.8%. Sharing sexual fantasies is one possible indicator of sexual comfort betweenpartners. We asked, “Are there fantasies that you would be afraid to tell your partner forfear of rejection?” Among women, 25% were afraid to share and 33.6% of men said theywould be afraid. The good news is that 75% of women and 66.4% men are not afraid toshare their fantasies with their partner. When we looked at the most and least formerlyreligious, there was only a slight difference between the two groups. In the “least” group,29.9% said there were fantasies they were afraid to share. In the “most” group, 33.2%had some fear. Sharing fantasies was a hot spot for many of our respondents. Among women,21.7% left comments and 26.4% of men commented. A majority of comments wererelated to being seen as perverted or unnatural:22 http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705288350/Utah-No-1-in-online-porn-subscriptions-report-says.html Darrel Ray, Ed.D. and Amanda Brown 30
  31. 31. Sex and SecularismSome men’s comments:That she would reject me for being perverted.I fear that theyd think I was a freak.Partner might question my morality or even leave me.Some women’s comments:Afraid he might be put off by desire for other men.That they would find it strange or ridiculous.I feel that he would be uncomfortable with them and lose some trust in me.I still feel residual guilt about sex and so, whenever I have a fetish, I fear sharing it. Our sample has a rich fantasy life, 85.9% said they fantasize weekly or moreoften. Almost half said they fantasize daily (45.2%). About 5% said they never if everfantasize. It seems fantasy is an important part for the vast majority. Moving fromfantasy to action, we asked, “have you ever fulfilled a sexual fantasy?” Out of 9,821answers, 79.7% said, “Yes.” We asked, “If not, explain why not?” Many of the answersdealt with shyness, legality, lack of opportunity or having a partner that will notparticipate. Lack of a willing partner was one of the most common reasons for notfulfilling fantasies. Another common reason was that fantasies “should not be acted out”or they “never turn out the way you expect.” On the other hand, many people not only seem to have an active fantasy life butalso like to act out their fantasies. Out of 7,252 who answered this question, 26.6% fulfillfantasies at least once a month and 62.8% fulfill them several times a year. It appearsthat fantasy fulfillment is an important activity for a majority of the respondents. Someof the comments were interesting and humorous.“Always, if I have one I go to my husband.”“It varies. It depends on the fantasy and whether my wife shares it, or is willing to playalong - she generally is.”“It has been several years now, but it used to be much more common. It created maritaltension, so Ive abandoned hope here.”“Every time (I used to fantasize about my current sexual partner before I scored him forgood)”“Every few years - its expensive.”“I am probably the least kinky person ever. I think my early religious training made meso scared of sex early on that just plane-jane-vanilla sex is my crazy fantasy. I guess wehave tried some toys, but end up deciding they are too much bother.” Darrel Ray, Ed.D. and Amanda Brown 31
  32. 32. Sex and Secularism Last, we were interested in the effect of previous religious training on fantasy life.We asked, “Do you have any sexual fantasies or fetishes that seem related to your earlyreligious sexual training?” Of 9,518 who answered this question, 94.3% said “No.”Religious training does not seem to affect fantasy life in this group.Spouse and sexual satisfaction We have heard many anecdotal stories about religious spouses refusing orinhibiting sexual satisfaction. To see how much spousal religiosity affected sexualsatisfaction, we asked, “How religious is your partner?” The average for the entiresample was 2.18 indicating that most have partners or spouses now that are not veryreligious. We asked, “How much does your spouse’s or partner’s religiosity affect your sexlife?” The average for the entire sample was 1.59 – very low. It appears that spousalreligiosity is not a big factor in sexual satisfaction. This is largely because they are notpartnered to religious people in the first place but that does not mean it has no effect. Theeffect seems to be clustered around a few people who are married to very religiouspeople. We did a correlation on the entire sample and found that spousal religiosity iscorrelated .465 (N=6985) with spouse inhibiting sex life. The correlation accounts forabout 22% of the variance, which indicates that spousal religiosity has some effect onsexual satisfaction. Anecdotal information based on the many comments people made shows thatspousal religiosity has a huge effect on a few people and much less on most. Only 2.6%said they had a very religious spouse or partner that inhibited their sex life (rating 8, 9 outof 10). We dug deeper, 1,556 out of 9,534 (16.3%) people said their spouse was religiousbut only 247 (2.6%) said their spouse was highly religious. Looking only at these, wefound that 187 (75.7%) said their spouse’s religiosity inhibited their sex life. It appearsthat having a very religious spouse increases the chances of an unhappy sex life muchmore than a moderately or non-religious spouse. Anecdotal information based on the hundreds of comments in response to thisquestion shows that spousal religiosity affects some people a lot.“Once, my wife came home from Church and announced that there will be no more oralsex because the priest said oral sex was a sodomy and she should not practice it.”“His religiosity prevents us from having honest discussion. I feel like there is an unseenwall between us now. While sex is better because I am more open, it doesnt feel real anymore.”“She has very conservative ideas about sex and a great deal of sex shame and bodyshame due to her religious childhood (Jehovahs Witnesses). She has been nonreligiousfor almost ten years now, but here the effects linger.”“Wife states, ‘How can I be intimate with someone who doesnt share my faith?”“He was raised JW and some times it snags him back. Very frustrating for me, and himreally.” Darrel Ray, Ed.D. and Amanda Brown 32
  33. 33. Sex and Secularism“Wifes parents are fundamentalist Christians. Wife still struggles with feelings of guiltand shame that sex is sinful (even though we are married).”The moral of this story, if you want a good sex life, don’t get involved with a highlyreligious person. Many in our sample seem to have taken that path. Of those that do havehighly religious spouses, the majority have sexual problems in the relationship. Contrastthis with those who said their spouse was only slightly religious (1, 2 or 3). Only 2.5%said religion inhibited their sex life. High religiosity in a spouse or partner seems tomakes a big difference in sexual satisfaction 75.7% vs. 2.5% for low religiosity.Residual Effects of Religion on Sex To determine how much effect religion continues to have after leaving religion weasked two questions. For the first, “How much anger do you experience towards religionbecause of how it affected your sexuality?” the score was on 2.72. For the second, “Howmuch anger do you experience towards religion because of how it affected your sex life?”the score was 3.03. Most people do not continue to feel anger about their religioustraining. We received 4,902 comments on this question out of 9,318 responses amongthe highest written response rates in the entire survey. While the score indicates thatthere is little current anger, the comments show that a large number of peopleexperienced huge problems before they lost their religion. Some even life-threatening:“Despite my excellent sex education by my parents and the school district, there wouldbe other relatives and/or societal messaging that would insist that premarital sex iswrong, that I would burn in Hell for masturbating, that I was disgusting for beinginterested in both girls and boys from a young age. Ive had previous sexual relationshipsruined from religious guilt and had to change doctors when a life-threatening pregnancyhad to be terminated and she disapproved openly on a religious basis.”“The affect of religion on my sex life is almost entirely secondary in nature since I wasnot raised in a religious family. My anger toward religion therefore arises fromsubjective moralism instilled in my significant others. I felt limited in who I couldapproach for a relationship if they were a part of a particularly unwelcoming religion.”“I was made to feel sex was only for procreation and for the enjoyment of men. Theunfairness and the belittling of women as if we are not allowed to experience pleasure.”“There are no specific instances that damaged me, rather it is the entire culture I grewup in (Bible Belt, USA) that stagnates sexual expression. It insists women are unsexualwhile men are oversexual. It ruins an important part of life, but sex is not the only part oflife it ruins, so I am not sure whether it is an aspect of, or the genesis of, the emotionaland intellectual repression that also comes with a religious upbringing.”“I was taught that being gay is a sin even though I have no control over it. When I cameout to my mother, she tried to pray the gay demons out of me and sprinkled holy water onme. She told my cousin that I was gay, and he later told me that I would experience a Darrel Ray, Ed.D. and Amanda Brown 33

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