Faith Digest

Faith Digest: Study suggests religion can predict sexual behavior

Study suggests religion can predict sexual behavior. Sociologist Mark Regnerus presented new research on marriage and sex at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission conference on sexuality, suggesting religion and sex are tracking more closely than ever before. mark regnerus130Mark RegnerusRegnerus, a sociology professor at the University of Texas at Austin, presented findings from an unpublished study that suggests a correspondence between what people’s religious affiliations proscribe regarding sex and marriage and their behavior. He surveyed 5,738 people ages 18 to 39, asking them about behavior, from porn use and masturbation to marriage and views on social issues. About 50 percent of younger evangelicals had premarital sex with their spouse, compared to 10 percent of Mormons, his study suggests. Mormons are the least likely religious group to be in a sexually inactive marriage, the research suggests.

Army approves ‘humanist’ as religious preference. The U.S. Army agreed to designate “humanist” as a religious preference. In practical terms, the change means humanists could face fewer hurdles in trying to organize within the ranks, military brass would have better information to aid in planning a deceased soldier’s funeral, and it could lay the groundwork for eventually adding humanist chaplains. According to a survey by the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, humanists make up 3.6 percent of the U.S. military. Col. Kenneth Stice, director of operations for the Army’s Office of the Chief of Chaplains, said religious preference information helps the military know how best to respect the religious wishes of an injured or deceased soldier. The chaplain corps is beginning to grapple with how to serve personnel who are in the “spiritual but not religious” category and will learn from humanists how to address their particular needs for accommodation, Stice said.

Scouts revoke church’s charter. The pastor of a United Methodist Church in Seattle said her congregation is exploring other scouting affiliations now that the Boy Scouts of America revoked the congregation’s charter for refusing to dismiss a gay Scout leader. Pastor Monica Corsaro characterized Rainier Beach United Methodist Church as a “reconciling congregation, open to all,” regardless of sexual orientation. The church’s troop will continue to meet under the leadership of Scoutmaster Geoffrey McGrath, 49, who is a gay member of the congregation. The church may decide to affiliate with groups such as Camp Fire or the Baden-Powell Service Association, or it may continue a scouting-style program independent of other groups. Last year, the Boy Scouts’ national council voted to allow gay Scouts into troops, saying no youth would be denied membership “based on sexual orientation or preference alone.” But the group maintained its ban on gay leaders.

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