Separating the “Sinner” from the “Sin”: Religious Orientation and Prejudiced Behavior Toward Sexual Orientation and Promiscuous Sex


Correspondence should be addressed to Jo-Ann Tsang, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, One Bear Place 97334, Baylor University, Waco, TX 76798–7334. E-mail:


This study extends research on the relationship between religious orientation, sexual prejudice, and antipathy toward value-violating behaviors. If intrinsic religion leads individuals to “love the sinner but hate the sin,” homosexual sexually promiscuous targets should be treated similarly to heterosexual promiscuous targets. One hundred female introductory psychology students were provided the opportunity to help two students. They had no information about the first student. The second student disclosed through a note that she was gay or said nothing about sexual orientation, and further stated that she was sexually promiscuous or celibate. Participants scoring high in intrinsic religiousness helped the disclosing student less when she revealed she was sexually promiscuous, but did not help a gay discloser less than a straight discloser. High intrinsic scores seemed to be related to antipathy toward the value-violation, but not toward the gay person as an individual.