From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Church and Clergy Still Not the "Most Trusted"
12 May 1996 20:18:20
May 9, 1996
96139 Church And Clergy Still Not The "Most Trusted"
by George H. Gallup Jr. and Robert Bezilla
New York Times Special Features
distributed by United Methodist News Service
PRINCETON, N.J.--Public esteem for church and clergy has slipped in recent
years, but they still enjoy greater confidence than the public opinion
analysts who write this column or the journalists who edit it.
Until the late 1980s, the church, or "organized religion," enjoyed the
utmost confidence of the public, leading all other institutions. Two out
of three Americans named the church as an institution worthy of the most
Since then, there has been some erosion, to the point where only
slightly more than half of Americans still say they place great trust in
Religion (57 percent) now takes third place behind such institutions
as the military (64 percent) and the police (58 percent).
On an absolute basis there has been some improvement over the previous
two years, but in relative terms religion has dropped to third place for
the first time.
There has been a slight drop in the last 10 years in the public's
rating of the clergy (to 56 percent) on honesty and ethics, and as a group
they are now second to pharmacists (66 percent) as the profession most
esteemed in this report by the citizenry.
They are in good company, ranking slightly ahead of doctors (54
percent), dentists (54 percent), engineers (53 percent) and college
professors (52 percent).
They are more than twice as likely as journalists (23 percent) or
public opinion researchers (25 percent) to receive top ratings.
In the view of the public, those most lacking in honesty and ethics
include senators (12 percent) and members of congress (10 percent), lawyers
(16 percent), real estate agents (15 percent), and insurance agents (11
percent), advertising people (10 percent) and car dealers (5 percent).
In 1995, 56 percent of the population ranked the honesty and ethics of
the clergy as "high" or "very high." One-third of the populace view the
clergy as only average in this respect, but less than one in 10 suggests
their morals are low.
The results are based on telephone interviews with randomly selected
national samples of 1,000 adults, ages 18 and older. The margin of error
could be plus or minus 3 percentage points.
For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
phone 502-569-5504 fax 502-569-8073
E-mail PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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