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I have a sexual attraction and fetish for religious objects and people who get off on having sex or masturbating while in a religious setting. People might think that this type of fetish is an act of deliberate blasphemy, complete with visions of Linda Blair ramming a crucifix into herself while mocking a priest.

The majority of those who reportedly practice hierophilia are in fact deeply devoted to their religion.

Theories as to why a person may develop this unusual fetish go to both biological and psychological levels. Frequent church-goers are often subjecting themselves to a very highly-charged atmosphere (such as a religious revival) that tends to get emotions running high among the congregation. These joyous emotions can often manifest themselves into sexual arousal, especially if the members of the congregation have very close bonds to one another.

On the other hand, even the Hellfire-and-brimstone sermons can spark a sexual arousal response. While the preacher may be gravely warning his followers about the punishments of sin and the end of the world, the part of nature that urges us to mate in times of impending disaster to insure our species (or at least, our own genes) survives may begin to kick in.

In either of the abovementioned scenarios it is not difficult for one to make the connection between religious settings and sexual arousal. Over a period of time a hierophiliac becomes conditioned to respond to religious icons or locations with feelings of sexual excitement, or even begin to associate the act of sex itself as a religious experience.

Since this fetish is much more common among the religious than in atheists, it sometimes becomes a double-edged sword, particularly within religions that regard any type of non-reproductive sexual behavior as being deviant. The hierophiliac derives sexual pleasure from the objects or in the places of his religion, yet at the same time is overwhelmed with the guilt that such behavior is sinful and he must be a horrible person for having such evil thoughts. In this sense, it becomes a masochistic fetish of biblical proportions.

Of course, not all of the religions throughout history have been quite so staunch about sex in general.

In some past religions (and a few that still exist today), hierophiliac behavior was actually encouraged within its numbers, and even viewed as a good way to keep the patrons coming back. A well-known example of this are the Priestesses of Ishtar, who would be regarded as being the embodiment of their Goddess and be worshipped in sexual practice by male patrons in the temple.

Practically all non-monotheistic religions have at least one fertility deity, and a good many of them come complete with erotic symbols and sexual rites to serve their purpose in the human life cycle. In these cases, sex and religion goes hand in hand to get the devotees in the proper mood to expand their numbers or ensure a good crop, and in some cases, to attempt to raise the dead.

The other side of this fetish are the people who dabble in hierophiliac activity either for the naughty novelty of it, or as a sexual means of expressing a disdain for religion. Hierophilia themes often find their way into fantasy play with priest collars, rosaries, religious icon sex toys, and Catholic school girl costuming. However, the religious imagery is usually not something that is loved and surrendered to, but rather the representation of what is naive and wholesome and is to be punished or otherwise corrupted.