Sex and Secularism: A Fascinating Study from Darrel Ray and Amanda Brown

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By: Darrel Ray

Why This Research is Important
The Sex and Secularism survey report is out. We have worked hundreds of hours analyzing the data and writing and rewriting the report, going over it with academics, taking feedback and criticism and incorporating a lot of it. Why is this report important enough to spend this kind of time on? Secularists don’t know a lot about their own community. Unlike Baptists or Catholics, we don’t have entire organizations dedicated to researching membership and developing programs to infect more people with religion. No one is asking what are secularists like. Are we same or different from the general population? How are we different from religionists and what happened when we left religion? What religions did we belong to before we left? How many religions did we try out before becoming secular? Are there any residual effects of religion after webecome secular?

We think these are important questions to ask. If, as we believe, religion has similarities to disease, there should be signs that people are somehow different – better or worse – after getting away from the disease. Because almost every religion seem so obsessed with sex AND psychologists and other social scientists seem reluctant to explore sex and religion, we felt it was an ideal place to start. A place that seemed to be “hands off” for researchers in the field, yet the one thing that seems incredibly important to religionists. From anti-abortion to anti-homosexual, from Catholic Priest and Nun Celibacy to Priestly pedophilia, anti-masturbation to anti-sex before marriage – religions seem obsessed with trying to control sex. So what happens to people’s sex liveswhen they leave religion? Do they go wild? Do they stop educating their children aboutsex? Do they leave their spouses and families for wild orgies?

While we could not answer all these questions, and may have not answered anydefinitively, the 14,500 people who participated in our survey gave us plenty of data to make some tentative conclusions about the secular community and secular sex. More research will always be needed, but we think this is a good start. Even if you are not interested in sex (which is hard to believe), you may still be interested in the many demographic facts we found. For example, there seems to have been a huge influx of new atheists coming from Christian Non-Denominational Churches. Catholics were feeding our movement but are now coming in second by a narrow margin. Who would have thought? All those mega churches are sending us their members. You might also be interested in the educational and income levels as well as gender and ages and whatthey may tell us about where to look for new people.

We hope you will take the time to examine the report and let us know what you think. If you were one of the thousands who took the survey, we thank you for your participation and support. If you did not get a chance to take the survey, this may give you valuable information about how others view their sexuality outside of religion. For all of us it begins a process of normalization. Humans are sexual creatures. We can do just fine expressing and controlling our sexuality without any religious indoctrination. This survey shows, in many ways, we are more open and less guilt ridden about sex than when we were religious. We feel better about ourselves and our partners, for the most part. In other words, we are at least as normal as the religionists with some apparent benefits from shaking off religion.