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    Puritanism — the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.
    H. L. Mencken, Chrestomathy


    To the Jesus of the gospels, there was no connection between sex and evil, so it is sobering to consider how much misery, suffering, and death has resulted over the centuries from the connection made by Christians.

    Churches have been responsible for fostering unhealthy attitudes, criminalising harmless activities, propagating medical nonsense, denying medical help, mutilating boys and girls, killing homosexuals, misogyny to the extent of causing the unnecessary deaths of women, encouraging overpopulation, denying people an ordinary natural sex life, promoting distorted — even pathological — views of sex, and then harbouring clerical sex criminals, for whose proclivities they may well have been at least responsible.

    Traditional Christian attitudes are still enshrined in laws around the world. Churches work to ban the sale of contraceptives or make abortion illegal. Some still deny children sex education, often with obvious consequences — high rates of pregnancy, venereal disease and worse. The Samaritans organisation that helps potential suicides was founded as a result of a thirteen year old girl committing suicide. She had thought that her first menstruation must be the consequence of some dreadful disease*.

    Sociological studies in Europe and America have consistently shown that both Roman Catholics and Protestants are more likely to be convicted of crime than non-religious people. While Roman Catholics excel at crimes of violence, Protestants excel at sex offences*. Even so, Roman Catholics are still represented in the statistics for sex crimes more highly than would be expected from their representation in the population, particularly for offences against public decency. Other studies have shown that religious people engage in less sexual activity than others, and it has been suggested that religion may be a kind of substitute for sex* (and even that sexual deprivation may be one of the roots of religion). Certainly, sexual guilt, even for married people, is much more common amongst Christians than others. Moreover the level of guilt seems to be positively correlated with the degree of Christian conservatism*. Masters and Johnson found in 1970 that a strict religious upbringing was one of the chief causes of sexual problems in marriage*. Churches still campaign to stop sex education in schools.


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    § As a young curate, the founder of the Samaritans, Rev Chad Varah, had conducted the funeral service for the girl.

    § Argyle and Beit-Hallahmi, The Social Psychology of Religion, pp 148-149.

    § Argyle and Beit-Hallahmi, The Social Psychology of Religion, pp 154 and 198-9.

    § Argyle and Beit-Hallahmi, The Social Psychology of Religion, p 156.

    § W. H. Masters and V. E. Johnson, Human Sexual Inadequacy ( London, 1970).


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