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Why Are Non-Heterosexual Males Attracted to Religious Celibacy? A Case for the ‘Gay Shaman’ Theory

Edward Dutton


There are elevated levels of non-heterosexual orientation and pedophilia among male religious celibates, such as Catholic priests and certain shamans. Based on cross-cultural empirical studies, it is argued that the most likely explanation is that male homosexuality is associated not only with elevated religiousness, but also with pathologies which themselves predict hyper-religiosity and intense religious experiences. This is supported by evidence of elevated religiousness among homosexual males, elevated Neuroticism among Catholic priests, and evidence of schizophrenia among shamans. The discussion also observes an erotic dimension to intense religiousness, which may aid the maintenance of celibacy. Finally, it is suggested that these findings may partially explain how male homosexuality may have been an adaptive trait: a group with an associated optimum level of fervent, celibate religious devotees would have a higher average level of religiosity and be more successful in terms of group selection.

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