Religious People Love Their Porn Just as Much as Everyone Else

Who are the biggest online porn subscribers in the USA?

According to a recent study by Benjamin Edelman, Associate Professor of Business Administration at Harvard, online porn subscriptions “are more prevalent in states where surveys indicate conservative positions on religion, gender roles, and sexuality.”

These are states where more people agree with statements such as:

  • “Even today miracles are performed by the power of God.”
  • “I never doubt the existence of God.”
  • “I have old-fashioned values about family and marriage.”
  • “Aids might be God’s punishment for immoral sexual behavior.”

Residents of 27 states that passed laws banning gay marriages boasted 11% more porn subscribers than states that don’t explicitly restrict gay marriage.

A list of the top ten states for per capita online porn subscriptions includes:

  • Utah (land of the ‘family friendly” Mormons – approximately 60% of the state population)
  • Alaska (land of Sarah Palin)
  • Mississippi
  • Oklahoma
  • Arkansas
  • North Dakota (home of Joe the Plumber)
  • Louisiana

In fact, 8 of the 10 top states voted for McCain in the last presidential election.

On the other hand, 6 of the lowest subscription rate states voted for Obama. The states with the lowest rates included:

  • Delaware
  • Connecticut
  • New Jersey

These states are part of the “liberal establishment” of the east coast so often decried by religious conservatives as immoral and ungodly.

It’s important to note that the author of this study did not find big differences overall between any of the states. And there were several very conservative states in the bottom 10 (Tennessee, Wyoming, and Montana).

So, what’s my point?

I am certainly not saying that  conservative religious people consume porn in much vaster quantities than religious liberals or non-theists. The differences are actually slight. Nor am I saying that I think all porn is evil or that all porn is okay.

I highlight this study to address the issue of whether or not religion makes people more moral, and whether we need religion to be moral. Sexual purity (defined as sex with the person to whom one is married in a heterosexual relationship) is a big thing for conservative Christians, Muslims, and Jews. This study would suggest that religious belief doesn’t seem to be a special deterrent for sexual deviancy in regards to porn. (PLEASE NOTE – I am using the religious conservative definitions of sexual purity and sexual deviancy — not mine!)

Just as a side note, it is interesting to note that church-goers bought less online porn on Sundays – a 1% increase in a postal code’s religious attendance was associated with a 0.1% drop in subscriptions that day. However, purchases on other days of the week brought them in line with the rest of the country.

Frankly, I am tired of the presumptuousness that religious conservatives bring when tying religion and morality together – especially when there are abundant examples that conservative religious believers behave no differently than the non-religious. This study is one further example of that.

I remember a conversation I had years ago when I was still a fundamentalist minister with a colleague who was the youth pastor in our church. He told me that he had recently read that the weekend a youth pastor’s convention was held at a particular hotel, the hotel had the highest revenue in its history in the rental of adult movies. I cannot vouch for whether that was actually true or not (though I had no reason to doubt him). This study would suggest it probably was true.

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Filed under Athesim, humanism, politics, religion, science, social commentary

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