America's Bible Belt states indulge in more online porn than other less religious states

(AP)

A new study has found that US states with a higher degree of religiosity are more likely to be searching for sex on the web.

The study was compiled by researchers at Brock University in Ontario, Canada, and based on two years of data from Google Trends across US states.

Researchers found that states identified as religiously conservative and politically conservative were indulging in more online pornography than other more liberal states.

Religiously conservative states had higher proportions of searches for generalised sex terms, while politically conservative states were more likely to use specific terms like "free porn" or "xxx".

"Across two separate years, and controlling for demographic variables, we observed moderate-to-large positive associations between: greater proportions of state-level religiosity and general web searching for sexual content and greater proportions of state-level conservatism and image-specific searching for sex," said the study authors.

They concluded that higher degrees of sexual restriction may be a contributing factor in the findings.

"It is possible that liberal citizens in states higher in religiosity or conservatism search more for sexual content due to living in a more sexually-restricted environment," they said, according to the Daily Mail.

The news will be disheartening to churches that are increasingly recognising the problem of pornography consumption among those sitting in their pews each Sunday.

A recent Barna study commissioned by Prove Men Ministries found that there was little difference between Christians and non-Christians when it came to levels of pornography consumption.

While 64 per cent of Christian men and 15 per cent of Christian women said they viewed pornography at least once a month, this figure was 65 per cent among non-Christian men and 30 per cent among non-Christian women.

A massive 79 per cent of Christian men aged 18 to 30 said they watched pornography at least once a month, while nearly a third (29 per cent) said they watched it daily.

Prove Men Ministries president Joel Hesch said the issue needed to be openly addressed in the church and that the church should be a "safe place" to talk about it.

"[Pornography] is addicting. It is a problem not just affecting individuals, but families. The church needs to be the frontrunner in this," he said.

"Heaping guilt and shame on a person only leads them to escape into the things we're trying to rescue them from."

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