Whats a Sextravaganza and Why Is University of Utah Hosting It?

Photo Source: Mountain West Digital Library

Billed as an event to explore the interconnectedness of faith, atheism and sexuality, University of Utah’s Secular Humanism Inquiry Freethought (SHIFT) group will be hosting a “Sextravaganza” on Saturday, September 15.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the free event will feature three speakers and is also being co-sponsored by the Secular Student Alliance and Humanists of Utah.

Adam Isom, president of SHIFT, said he hopes the event will provide attendees with new perspectives on common social and religious mores when it comes to sexuality.

“I hope that … people realize there are these sort of invisible cultural scripts about what’s taboo to either think, do or talk about,” Isom said, “and also scripts about what’s normal.” The Tribune continues:

Psychologist Darrel W. Ray, author of Sex & God: How Religion Distorts Sexuality, will keynote the forum. Author Greta Christina, an atheist blogger and speaker, will likely discuss the idea that sexual morality of traditional religion tends to be based on notions of what God does and does not want people to do rather than solid ethical principles, and she’ll offer atheist alternatives to those views.

University of Utah psychology professor Lisa Diamond, who studies sexual development and relationships, also will speak. She will likely discuss how advocacy for gay marriage has often relied upon potentially damaging arguments based on the seeming moral superiority of committed, monogamous same-sex partnerships and that the Bible doesn’t actually condemn same-sex sexuality.

According to SHIFT co-founder Jason Cooperrider, the “Sexstravaganza” could draw up to 500 people.

Some students feel that the event is timely, given that social issues — particularly with regards to women’s “reproductive rights” — have become topics of debate in this current presidential campaign season.