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Religious play is a term for religious themed role-playing performed in the BDSM community. During religious play, submissive partners may take on the role of nuns, monks, or alter boys or girls. The dominant partner typically takes on a superior church role, such as that of a priest or rabbi. Costumes typically help the participants create a more realistic scene.
Costumes worn in religious play resemble those worn in the church, but they are often designed to show more skin than real religious clothing. Religious play can also occur without costumes.
Many people enjoy religious play because the linking of religion and sex is considered taboo. There is something appealing about corrupting an institution deemed sacred with the profanity of sex. This type of play also helps reinforce dominant and submissive roles in a relationship. Just as priests and other church leaders shape the morality of their congregation and pardon or punish their flock for their sins, the dominant partner has the power to control their submissive.
During religious play, the submissive often confesses their sins and awaits punishment for them. Floggings, which replicate the floggings administered within the church through history, may also come into play.
Some people who engage in religious play are considered to have a religious fetish, although this isn’t always the case. Some people also have fetishes concerning specific religions, such as Catholicism.