Religious Believers Have a Better Sex Life, Says Heritage Foundation Report. But What About Good Will Toward Men?

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The Heritage Foundation is issuing a fascinating report that finds that religious practice will improve your health, give you fresher breath and whiter teeth, remove your wrinkles and boost your sex life. Really, boost your sex life. And that may all be true (in the spirit of the season I won't contest the claims, after all, some of my best friends are religious believers).

But my snarky side couldn't help but wonder about the assertion: "Religious practice promotes the well-being of individuals, families, and the community." Hmmm. Community? Well maybe people behave better toward one another in their own religious communities, but history and contemporary events suggest that from time to time there might be a little bit of friction between practitioners of different faiths. Say the Thirty Years War ? Or how them Israelis and Palestinians? Or those Shi'as and Sunnis? And let's not forget the Buddhists and the Hindus in Sri Lanka. I'm not picking sides right now in any of those conflicts, I'm just saying….

In any case, the Heritage report does make some policy recommendations. Most significantly:

At the federal, state, and local levels, policymakers should work to encourage an environment in which religious institutions and organizations can thrive and citizens can actively practice their faith—both privately and publicly. In doing so, government entities can remain neutral with regard to particular faiths while still respecting the rights of citizens who are not affiliated with any religion or faith.

"…can remain neutral"? I would think that the Constitutional requirement that the Feds must remain neutral has been the key to both the relative religious peace enjoyed by Americans and relatively high number of believers among Americans. With regard to the latter claim, the idea is that if you can't use the state to clobber unbelievers, you have to get good at persuading others that you may have a direct hotline to some deity or other.

Anyway, have a Merry Winter Solstice holiday of whatever sort you prefer to celebrate!

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  1. At the federal, state, and local levels, policymakers should work to encourage an environment in which religious institutions and organizations can thrive and citizens can actively practice their faith-both privately and publicly. In doing so, government entities can remain neutral with regard to particular faiths while still respecting the rights of citizens who are not affiliated with any religion or faith.

    Those goals seem contradictory at best.

  2. At the federal, state, and local levels, policymakers should work to encourage an environment in which religious institutions and organizations can thrive and citizens can actively practice their faith-both privately and publicly.

    Not having to pay taxes isn’t enough?

  3. Mr. Bailey, “a little bit of friction” is crucial for a satisfactory sex life.

  4. As an atheist, I love the fact that the defense of religion is no longer on the grounds of eternal truth, but the quality of the adherent’s sex life. Calvin, grave, rolling.

  5. whatever, if you only have sex once year.. of course it’s good.

    what would anyone expect the heritage foundation to say.

    a bunch of old men frightening teenage girls and boys into bed. of course they love it.

    http://thefrozennorth.wordpress.com/

    have a nice solstice.

  6. I truly wish we had a rapid expansion of Islam in this country, so that all the Judeo-Christian bullshit artists would have to come out of hiding about the supposed “value” of “religion” and really say what they mean–they want their generic brands of bullshit elevated, not “religion” generally.

    Jesus: He gives you diamond-cutter boners.

    Sounds like a better selling point than their previous 2000 years of horseshit.

  7. (in the spirit of the season I won’t contest the claims, after all, some of my best friends are religious believers)

    OK, it falls to me then. The religious only think they have satisfying sex lives because their expectations at the start are so low.

  8. That study on happy sex lives for religious women was from 1977 for God’s sake. That was thirty years ago. Did those women even know they were supposed to have orgasms?

  9. Ron – I couldn’t help but notice that none of your examples involved Americans or Christians, which was the focus of the Heritage Foundation study.

    So, perhaps it can not be said that being religious in general makes you more tolerant or happy or sexy or whatever, but I don’t think anyone could honestly disagree that for those living in the United States, religious Christians certainly have a stronger sense of family and community, and are generally happier, healthier, and wealthier.

    I say all this as an ex-Catholic agnostic who has chosen to raise his children Catholic not because I believe the faith to be “true”, but because I believe being raised with faith to be beneficial.

  10. Did those women even know they were supposed to have orgasms?

    If not, maybe that’s why they were happy.

  11. “I say all this as an ex-Catholic agnostic who has chosen to raise his children Catholic not because I believe the faith to be “true”, but because I believe being raised with faith to be beneficial.”

    This has to be the most nonsensical sentence I hav ever read. Since your kiddies might act better with Santa Claus on the table, would that lead you to seriously push that crap on them as some kind of belief system? Why would Christ be any different?

    Forget Calvin rolling over in his grave, I think even Willaim James would.

    I put the over/under on you relapsing into some kind of Christian blather at 5 years, tops.

  12. There must be a fruitcake angle in here somewhere, but I am just not getting it.

  13. That’s what I’m sayin’ D.A.

  14. One of my favorite “findings”…

    On cohabitation from 1989:

    “couples who had lived together before marriage were 59 percent more likely to divorce than those who did not.”

    Brilliant.

  15. “Or how them Israelis and Palestinians? Or those Shi’as and Sunnis? And let’s not forget the Buddhists and the Hindus in Sri Lanka. I’m not picking sides right now in any of those conflicts, I’m just saying….”

    If you don’t pick the Israelis in that conflict, who are most certainly better in bed than the Palestinians, you must be anti-semitic; Mr. Bailey, why do you hate Israel?

  16. Did those women even know they were supposed to have orgasms?

    As one who knew a few of those religious women in 1977 (not all of them in the biblical sense), I can assure you that, yes, they knew it.

  17. Steven Horowitz, although I LOL at your remark, you are very much mistaken. Gen X didn’t invent the orgasm for women and for at least the better part of the 20th Century repressed fundie church girls were always the best bet if you wanted to get laid.

  18. Hey folks, it was a joke. I actually do know that 1970s women, including the church-going ones, knew about orgasms. (BTW, I’m not Gen X, but very late Boomer.)

    That said, using presumably self-reported data from the 1970s to make point about current policy is beyond sloppy. But Heritage will grasp at any straw on these issues, I guess.

  19. The funniest thing about reports like this is the notion that one has any choice about the religious beliefs one adopts. I’m an atheist because there is no evidence for God. I couldn’t choose to be a religious believer, because I refuse to believe in things for which there is no evidence. I certainly couldn’t choose to believe in a god just because it would lead to a better sex life. I have no choice but to be an atheist because I value intellectual honesty the most.

  20. With regard to the latter claim, the idea is that if you can’t use the state to clobber unbelievers, you have to get good at persuading others that you may have a direct hotline to some deity or other.

    I think it’s a little more subtle than that. In Europe, where there’s a state-sponsored church in almost every country, the churches get money from tithes no matter what; in Germany (IIRC), it’s part of your taxes, and your tithe goes toward whatever church you belong to. Other countries have similar systems. No matter what, the clergy get paid, the churches get maintained, even if no one is sitting in the pews on Sunday.

    In the US, if you don’t have butts in the seat, your church goes under. This may seem cynical, but as a good capitalist, I don’t see any problem with churches having to satisfy their clientele. I think there should be bounds on it, with the clergy not being hesitant to take risks if they feel that it’s necessary, but overall it’s a good thing that churches have to find a way to be relevant.

    Of course, this means that churches that tell people what they want to hear become bigger at the expense of churches that try to maintain some standards. But still, it’s better than the alternative.

  21. Reglion is a belief system that happens to include the supernatural. It’s been the source of conflict many times in the past, but that isn’t because it includes the supernatural. Stalin’s system was atheist; Hitler’s system was agnostic; and today psych wards hold many people against their will in the name of science. There is nothing wrong with atheism, agnostism, or science. It’s just that any belief system can lead to evil if it is forced upon others. In the US, the 1st ammendment right to choose one’s religion keeps religions from repeating past oppression. Competion is key here.

  22. steveintheknow | December 20, 2006, 2:58pm | #
    One of my favorite “findings”…

    On cohabitation from 1989:

    “couples who had lived together before marriage were 59 percent more likely to divorce than those who did not.”

    Brilliant.

    Actually, the percentage was taken from a different study perfomred in 1996. From an abstract of the study cited:

    Amato, P.R. (1996). Explaining the intergenerational transmission of divorce. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 58(3), 628-640.

    This study uses national longitudinal data to explain the intergenerational transmission of divorce. Parental divorce is associated with an increased risk of offspring divorce, especially when wives or both spouses have experienced the dissolution of their parents’ marriage. Offspring age at marriage, cohabitation, socioeconomic attainment, and prodivorce attitudes mediate modest proportions of the estimated effect of parental divorce. In contrast, a measure of interpersonal behavior problems mediates the largest share of the association. The findings suggest that parental divorce elevates the risk of offspring divorce by increasing the likelihood that offspring exhibit behaviors that interfere with the maintenance of mutually rewarding intimate relationships.

    Coincidentally, children of divorced parents are also more likely to shack up before marriage. The 1989 study looked at cohabitation and declining marriage rates and concluded that “cohabitation is very much a family status but one in which levels of certainty about the relationship are lower than in marriage.” Huh, go figure, kids shack up, discover they can’t stand each other and never get married.

    Brilliant.

  23. I believe being raised with faith to be beneficial.

    How is mindless belief despite all evidence “benefincal?”

  24. EDIT: …all evidence “beneficial.”

  25. Amen, henry.

  26. Because it helps you fit in and gives you something to do, even pointing you in a direction of where you can help. I think that’s why a lot of people are into church anyway. It wouldn’t be so bad if all churches followed Jesus’ teachings instead of having many of their obnoxious sects spewing hate. Just my opinion, though. I was raised a Catholic, but mostly had fairly liberal priests who simply never bothered to mention the bigoted or just plain ignorant and anti-intellectual parts of the faith. That’s why I tend to reserve my ire towards specific sects and leaders.

  27. “Mr. Bailey, “a little bit of friction” is crucial for a satisfactory sex life.”

    We have a winner!

  28. How is mindless belief despite all evidence “benefincal?”

    If it’s mindless, then it’s not beneficial from an intellectual standpoint. However, religion gives you a place in the universe; read The Sacred Canopy for a sociological description of this. I can’t remember the terms, but basically religion gives you psychological comfort that your life isn’t meaningless. Many, if not most, people find that religion satisfies this need best. Others can find comfort in some form of atheistic belief. So yes, religion does benefit people, despite your lack of belief that it does. Even if the religion is false.

    Which isn’t even to address your bald assertion that all religious belief is “mindless.” As far as I can tell, there’s no correlation between intelligence, capacity for reason, and religious belief (or lack thereof). Unless you start from the assumption that religious people are stupid, you can’t arrive at that conclusion.

    Not that anyone will see this, but it had to be said anyways.

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