Atheists have far better sex lives than religious people who are plagued with guilt during intercourse and for weeks afterwards, researchers have found.
A study found that non-believers are more willing to discuss sexual fantasies and more satisfied with their experiences.
Both groups admitted that they carried out the same activities such as masturbation, watching pornography, having oral sex and pursuing affairs.
But followers of religion did not enjoy the experiences as much due to the stigma created by their belief systems, the study found. It left them with intense feelings of regret after they had climaxed.
The findings emerged in the Sex and Secularism survey of more than 14 500 people carried out by psychologist Darrel Ray and Amanda Brown from Kansas University.
All of the people questioned were found to have sex around the same number of times a week. They also became sexually active at similar ages.
But devoutly religious people rated their sex lives far lower than atheists and admitted to strong feelings of guilt.
Strict religions such as Mormons ranked highest on the scale of sexual guilt. Their average score was 8.19 out of 10. They were followed closely behind by Jehovah’s Witnesses, Pentecostals, Seventh Day Adventists and Baptists.
Catholics rated their levels of guilt at 6.34 while Lutherans came in at 5.88. Atheists and agnostics ranked 4.71 and 4.81.
Religious people had as much sex as non-believers but they felt bad afterwards and often prayed for forgiveness.
In individuals, the stronger the religious beliefs the more powerful the feelings of regret.
Of people raised in very religious homes, 22.5 percent said they were shamed or ridiculed for masturbating compared with only 5.5 percent of people brought up in the least religious homes.
About 79.9 percent of people raised in very religious homes said they felt guilty about a specific sexual activity or desire while 26.3 percent of those raised in secular homes did.
Children raised in strongly religious homes were more likely to get their sex education from pornography, as they were not confident enough to talk with their parents.
People who had lost their belief and became atheists reported a significant improvement in sexual satisfaction.
People who had left their beliefs behind said their sex lives were “much improved” and rated their new experiences on average as 7.81 out of 10.
The finding dispelled the belief that feelings of guilt can continue to trouble people after the religion has faded.
“We did think that religion would have residual effects in people after they left but our data did not show this. That was a very pleasant surprise. The vast majority seem to shake it off and get on with their sexual lives pretty well,” Ray said.
“Our data shows that people feel very guilty about their sexual behaviour when they are religious, but that does not stop them.
“Of course, they have to return to their religion to get forgiveness. It’s like the church gives you the disease, then offers you a fake cure.” – Daily Mail