ONLY 12 per cent of practising Anglicans who responded to a
survey say that they would feel guilty about having pre-marital
sex. And 58 per cent of those questioned were happy about using
porn for sexual stimulation, a UK survey of religious and secular
attitudes to sex suggests.
A YouGov online poll of 4437 adults found that the respondents
who described themselves as religious felt more guilt than those
who were non-religious. But the organisers of the poll suggested
that "Roman Catholic guilt" was a "myth": they saw "no evidence
that Catholics feel more guilty about sexual 'sins' than other
religious people". Baptists, Muslims, and Pentecostals were those
who felt it most. For example, almost nine out of ten Baptists
would feel guilty over sex outside marriage.
It found that 89 per cent of the Roman Catholics who were polled
did not feel guilty about using contraception.
The survey was part of research into the notion of guilt by
academics at Lancaster University's Religion and Society Programme,
which organises the Westminster Faith Debates.
The Professor of the Sociology of Religion at Lancaster
University, Dr Linda Woodhead, said this week that the survey
identified a strain of "puritan guilt" that survives in modern
She said that many Roman Catholics appeared to have distanced
themselves completely from their Church's teaching. "It doesn't
mean that they are not going to church, or sincere believers, but
they are not in the mould that the church hierarchy would like them
"It is particularly concerning for the Church because it has
really staked its distinctiveness on sexual morality."
Those who felt "least guilty" over the sexual activities about
which the survey asked were men who regarded their own judgement or
intuition as authoritative; did not identify with, or participate
in, a religion; and were definite about their belief that there was
In contrast, those who felt "most guilty" were women who
described themselves as religious, were active members of a
religious group, and definitely believed in God.
Question of the Week: Do you think that Roman Catholics feel
more sexual guilt than other Christians?