‘Catholic Guilt’ About Sex Is Just a Myth, Poll Says

According to a large-scale survey of secular and religious feelings toward sexual activity, Catholics are no more likely to feel guilty about sex than many other religious people.

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Toby Melville / Reuters

A large-scale survey of secular and religious feelings toward sexual activity shows that Catholics don’t feel any guiltier about sex than members of any other religion, according to the U.K. market-research firm YouGov.

It’s not that Catholics don’t feel guilty about sex, mind you, it’s that religious people in general are more likely to have qualms than the nonreligious. And even then Catholic guilt doesn’t measure up to that experienced by Baptists, Muslims and Pentecostals, reports the Guardian.

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In fact YouGov’s survey of over 4,000 adults, commissioned by Westminster Faith Debates and conducted at the end of January as part of a series on societal sexualization, found that religious people were four times as likely (20%) as the non-religious (5%) to feel guilty about premarital sex. The figure jumped to one-third (33%) when religious people were asked if they would feel guilty using pornography, compared with less than half that (15%) among those non-religious.

When asked about using contraception — a practice staunchly opposed by the Catholic Church — only 12% of practicing Catholics admitted they’d feel guilty doing so. In fact across a range of sexual issues, from premarital and extramarital sex to pornography and contraception, just 14% of Catholics said they’d feel guilty, compared with 16% of all religious people and just 3% of those non-religious.

Who’s the “most guilty” about sex? Religious women, according to the poll, whereas the “least guilty” were non-religious men.

YouGov’s poll findings aren’t entirely new. A study dating back to the 1980s and published in the winter 1988 issue of the Journal of Rational-Emotive and Cognitive-Behavior Therapy found no variance in guilt levels between different religious denominations, but that having a religious affiliation (as opposed to identifying as non-religious) was “a significant guilt predictor.”

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12 comments
fionnghuala.odoherty
fionnghuala.odoherty

The catholic church loads people with guilt . Why does it deliberately introduce confession before communion to children? Just obvious really . Having seen how my husband has struggled for years with compulsive obsessional guilt, how distructive it has been to family life and to our children and how he has suffered in isolation with it all. A totally ruined life.

Fionnghuala O'Doherty

kevins_76
kevins_76

The humorous thing is, sex is perfectly normal and natural, much like food and sleep.  Without it, no one would exist at all.  The church is the thing that's an unnatural perversion.

George286
George286

St. Francis Xavier “Give me the child until he is seven and I’ll give you the man”.  Guilt, fear, shame, all negative reinforcement techniques to imprint on a child for the rest of their lives.  As an admittedly almost laughable generalization, Catholics strike me as having been weaned more on shame than guilt, Protestants more on fear perhaps, Jewish is more about guilt.

bojimbo26
bojimbo26

" Religion " says ' You must do as you are told , not as we do ' .

CharlesJencks
CharlesJencks

OKay. I was raised Catholic, and I can tell you... Catholic guilt has to do with a lot more than sex. The nuns used to guilt-trip kids into finishing their lunches at school, even.

mcolfinn
mcolfinn

Sadly, the catholic church has lost all credibility

roknsteve
roknsteve

I'm sure Catholics will find something else to feel guilty about.  And then they'll scape-goat another minority to make themselves feel better.  That's what happens when you build your beliefs around a primitive story book.

cibumcupio
cibumcupio

The title is misleading.  Whatever guilt the Catholics or religious people have, it's about premarital sex and not sex in general.