How Common Are Blasphemous Thoughts?

Scrupulosity Video Post

Jaimie Eckert

Published on Dec 14, 2023; Updated on Jan 9, 2024

If you suffer from scrupulosity and experience awful, unwanted thoughts towards God, you might be wondering: how common are blasphemous thoughts?

I don’t know of anyone who has measured the prevalence of blasphemous thoughts in the general, non-OCD population. I also don’t know anyone who has done a proper, methodologically robust study on how common blasphemous thoughts are in the whole scrupulous population of America or any other nation. 

What I can share with you, though, are some statistics describing the scrupulosity recovery community behind this blog.

Statistics on Religious Intrusive Thoughts

346 respondents returned surveys in which they indicated they have either a formal diagnosis or a self-diagnosis of religious OCD. How common are blasphemous thoughts amongst these individuals? The frequency with which these they experience religious intrusive thoughts is described in the following graph.

  • 2.6% say they never or almost never experience religious intrusive thoughts.
  • 10.12% experience religious intrusive thoughts a few times per month.
  • 18.79% experience religious intrusive thoughts a few times per week.
  • 35.26% experience religious intrusive thoughts daily.
  • 21.68% experience religious intrusive thoughts multiple times per hour.
  • 11.56% experience religious intrusive thoughts every few minutes or more often.

The level of disruptiveness of these blasphemous thoughts was my follow-up question. You can see the results in the next graph.

  • 20.52% of respondents say their blasphemous thoughts disrupt their daily lives “a great deal.”
  • 22.83% of respondents say their blasphemous thoughts disrupt their daily lives “a lot”
  • 24.28% of respondents say their blasphemous thoughts disrupt their daily lives “a moderate amount”
  • 26.59% of respondents say their blasphemous thoughts disrupt their daily lives “a little”
  • 4.91% of respondents say their blasphemous thoughts do not disrupt their daily lives at all.
  • 0.87% of respondents preferred not to answer.

Discussion: How Common are Blasphemous Thoughts?

There was, as could be expected, a statistically significant relationship between frequency of intrusive thoughts and disruptiveness of intrusive thoughts. That is, the more often a person experienced unwanted religious thoughts, the more disruptive it was to his or her daily life.

We can see from the results that if this sample is representative of the broader scrupulosity community in any way, this means that a huge proportion of people dealing with religious OCD experience intrusive thoughts.

How common are blasphemous thoughts? Well, if you were feeling alone in this regard, don’t–only 2.6% of scrupulosity sufferers “never or almost never” have intrusive thoughts. And a full 68.5% have them every day! That’s tough!

Makes me think of that verse,

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.

2 Corinthians 4:16

It’s a daily struggle, but God is working out His greater purposes in our lives.

We can also see that there is a substantial leap between those at the bottom of the chart who say their thoughts bother them “a little” (26.59%) versus those who say the thoughts don’t bother them “at all” (4.91%). This should remind us that the last leg of the journey takes the longest.

I, for one, can tell you that I am still “a little” bothered by my intrusive thoughts. That doesn’t stop me from going about and doing the next thing, ignoring the thoughts, and forgetting about them fairly quickly. But I’d be lying if I told you I never get a bit of a jolt from time to time.

So don’t be discouraged if you find yourself still a little bit unsettled when you get uncomfortable thoughts. I am, too. This doesn’t mean we are incurable, it just means that it takes time for us to get to a place where we are totally, 100% unflustered.

(And those of you in the 4.91% — we are so happy for you!)

So how common are blasphemous thoughts? How common are religious intrusive thoughts in general? Well, these stats give us a suggestion which says, “really common.” Much more common than you might have guessed!

Are you in the lucky 4.91%? Please share your experience in the comments below. We would love to hear how you did it!

More data, info, and thoughts coming soon…

  • I tried commenting this question before but nothing happened so sorry if at some point this appears twice.

    I have been reading and reading lately trying to find someone with an experience similar to mine that I can relate to and advice that would apply to my situation.

    I have intrusive blasphemous thoughts but only in response to very specific triggers (the triggers themselves are not sinful). I am not distressed by the thoughts as I am 100% sure that they are not mine. What distresses me is the concern that if I don’t completely eliminate the triggers (which would greatly decrease my quality of life) then I am sinning because I am not doing what is in my power to prevent said thoughts from occurring. Now on the rare occasion that the thoughts just pop in out of nowhere, I feel no guilt at all because it is completely beyond my control.

    Also sometimes I will interrupt an intrusive thought only to end up completing it myself under this uncontrollable urge or compulsion. I think of it as kind of like an internal tic. Like instead of cursing out loud due to an uncontrollable urge like some people with Tourette’s do I do it internally. I do feel guilt about this because I wonder if I would just try harder maybe I wouldn’t give in, maybe I could stop my brain from finishing the thought and then I go back to well if I would’ve just avoided the triggers then I wouldn’t have this problem so then I feel responsible and guilty.

    Does Jaimie or anyone else on here have any thoughts on whether or not I am responsible for these thoughts. Is it my moral responsibility to avoid the triggers?
    What is going on when I complete the very same intrusive thought that I just interrupted?

  • Hi, reading this helps me realise the more we know ourselves, how much God loves us and where we stand with God, the less the intrusive thoughts will bother us and therefore happen less.

  • Thank you so much. The blasphemous thoughts come and go. Sometimes they will pop up and other days they won’t. I use to able to go months without it and then I will have a flare up. I keep telling myself that it’s just a thought and that it’s not me as my character. God love us all and I don’t believe he would want us to focus so time and effort on these horrible thoughts. We have to move on and go about our if those thoughts appear.

  • Wow , Thank you so much Jamie for your help to all those dealing with these disgusting troubles , I thought I had brain tumour or something , now I know I’m not the only one dealing with this , still feels very terrible having these thoughts even now , but I pray we’re freed from this .
    Thank you Jamie

  • Hi Jaimie – I answered your survey and it’s good to see the results. Are you making a distinction between ‘blasphemous’ intrusive thoughts (ie bad thoughts specifically about God or Jesus) and ‘other’ religious intrusive thoughts (ones that focus on something else in someone’s faith journey)? I answered that I have religious intrusive thoughts daily and they affect me mostly a little, sometimes a lot, but they are never what I would call blasphemous. They always centre around how I’m not good enough, faithful enough, did I do that right etc. it would be interesting to see what the focuses are for people, but it might be difficult to survey without triggering people (such as lists of common scrupulous thought groups, for example)

    • Good point, Janette! I did not distinguish between blasphemous thoughts and other religious intrusive thoughts. The questions specifically asked about religious intrusive thoughts, which is a broader category. I should change the title here! 🙂

  • For those of you struggling with this, there is hope.
    When my scrupulosity was at its peak (which was before I knew I had it), I had intrusive, blasphemous thoughts constantly. If I had taken this poll then, I would have been one of the people who answered "every few minutes" and "a great deal". Now, I would answer "daily" or "a few times per month" and "a little".
    With scrupulosity, knowing really is half the battle. Once you realize you have OCD, specifically scrupulosity, you learn that these thoughts are due to a problem with your brain, not your spirit. You also realize they are like an angry chihuahua-it may bark at you all day, but it is not a real threat. For me, the "barking" has gotten quieter and quieter. Even though these thoughts can still be unsettling, I realize they have no real bite.
    The Holy Spirit helped me through this rough stage and can help you through it, too. Read and memorize Romans 8, and, if you have given your life to Christ, you will see that the Holy Spirit is already helping you in your weakness, praying for you, helping you to become more than a conqueror, and that nothing (including intrusive thoughts!) will not separate you from God's love.

  • I thank you and always am glad to read your emails. This subject really hit home. I have such thoughts often. They just pop up in my mind just out of the blue. I have noticed to some degree that they have slacked off a bit. As soon as I have one I immediately ask for forgiveness and I know The LORD forgives me and I know I won't lose my Salvation, but a thought can come back again within a matter of seconds. It hurts my heart so. I know their just thoughts, but I feel so awful and I hate thinking such things. I know the LORD knows I don't want to think such things, but it truly bothers me. Thanks again for being here and for who you are. I do look forward to reading your emails. wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a happy blessed New Year.

  • Thank you for your courage to discuss this difficult subject. The first time these thoughts began, I heard the enemy's lie that I was the only one. I know the truth now that I am not a lone sheep.

  • Thanks Jamie. It's nice to know I'm not alone. A wise man once said… a thought can not be subtracted or divided, it can only add or multiply. Once a thought enters or mind, it will forever be in the brain or memory bank. We do not have the power to remove a thought or memory no matter how much we want to. At random times the thought or the idea to think the thought will pop up in your mind throughout your entire lifetime. Think about it, there isn't 1 thought you've had that you've only thought once. Our thoughts repeat themselves and new ones add on. Until we die crazy and disturbing thoughts will play in our minds, sometimes even when we're asleep. The fact that you don't want to think the thought can cause the thought to show up in your mind more. I say…. no matter what the thought is or how often u have it, at the end of the day IT'S JUST A THOUGHT. It's not a new belief. It's not necessarily an action. It's just a thought in your mind. Don't give it so much power. IT'S JUST A THOUGHT. They come and go all day long.

  • Hi Jaimie,
    As usual your articles seem to show up at the right time. I thank God for you and your ministry and I pray most days for those who suffer from this horrendous problem. This situation is really something that I do not share or ask for prayer about as I feel people who do not suffer from this would understand.
    My heart goes out to anyone dealing with this.

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