Of course, the headline is misleading (aren't they always), since the first line of the article is that "Atheists have far better sex lives than religious people who are plagued with guilt during intercourse and for weeks afterwards, researchers have found" (emphasis mine). I would think that this is a no-brainer: if you are feeling guilty while having intercourse, and then continue to feel guilty afterwards, that would tend to make the actual sex a bit less "good."
Drilling deeper into the article, we read that this comes from a study "Sex and Secularism." According to the Mail, the study found that
"But devoutly religious people rated their sex lives far lower than atheists. They also admitted to strong feelings of guilt afterwards.
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 Witness, Pentecostal, Seventh Day Adventist, and Baptist.
Catholics rated their levels of sexual guilt at 6.34 while Lutherans came slightly lower at 5.88 . In contrast, atheists and agnostics ranked at 4.71 and 4.81 respectively."
This interesting, but needs some clarification: what, exactly, is meant by having sex?
Of people raised in very religious homes, 22.5 per cent said they were shamed or ridiculed for masturbating compared with only 5.5 percent of people brought up in the least religious homes.So, apparently, the study is not just looking at sex, but rather is looking at sexual activities which various religions consider illicit or sinful. We don't know if any of this was sex within the bounds of marriage or not--a study which (if the last paragraph is indicative) is meant to promote secularism may deliberately blur the lines on issues like fornication or adultery; then again, they may not (the Mail doesn't seem to be interested in reporting this detail).
Some 79.9 per cent of people raised in very religious homes said they felt guilty about a specific sexual activity or desire while 26.3 per cent of those raised in secular homes did.
Worryingly, 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.
However, there was some good news for religious groups. People who had lost their belief and became atheists reported a significant improvement in sexual satisfaction.
I have a few observations and comments concerning this article. First, I still stand by the question of whether it matters, in the long run, who has better sex. Back when US News and World Report had their own article stating that Catholics apparently have better sex, this was my reaction:
When a study like this is used to pitch conversion to Catholicism, it's somewhat akin to saying, "We can't know whether the Catholic Faith is true or not, we can't even know whether the Catholic Religion is good or not, but you should still join the Catholic Church because you'll likely have better sex. In other words, join the Church because it feels good!" "Because it feels good" is not sufficient grounds for making major moral decisions, and this is the very attitude against which Christianity in general (and Catholicism in particular) has to contend. This attitude is, in short, rather antithetical to a religion which claims to be followers of the Truth.... I will grant that no apologia alone can convert a person, and few can even get most people to stop and consider conversion, or even to consider simple fairness apart from conversion. But we live in an age where science is king (along with Sports and Sex), and where "Science" is invoked as a stick with which to beat the Church: namely, "The Church is against science and impedes scientific progress while supporting junk science." Therefore, when a study of dubious scientific quality is invoked as reason to convert to the Church, and when it is subsequently demolished by scientific-minded people from outside the Church, it reinforces in those peoples' minds their own chief (stated) objection to the Church.The shoe is on the other foot, and my reaction hasn't changed: this is a rather lampoon-able approach to prosylitization, whether employer by Christians or by atheists. It basically says, "believe this because it's fun, follow this because you'll feel good!" rather than "believe this because it is the truth, and follow this way of life because it is good."
My point, then, is that science can be an aide to (but not a cause of) evangelism, but only if done right. Studies like this might make a man stop to consider other claims of the Church--if the study is done well.