July 12, 2012
Confidence in U.S. Churches Hits All-Time Low
But organized religion still ranks higher than U.S. citizens' confidence in public schools, banks, and television news.
A fresh update to Gallup's annual "Confidence in Institutions" survey reveals that only 44 percent of Americans today have "a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in 'the church or organized religion.'" Americans ranked organized religion at the top of their confidence list almost every year from 1973 to 1985. Now it is tied with the medical system.
However, such a low vote of confidence is relative in this survey. Trust in organized religion still ranks fourth out of the 16 institutions tested, including public schools, banks, and television news -- which also hit all-time lows in June's poll.
Protestants have more confidence than Catholics, with 56 percent of Protestants expressing "a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in the church/organized religion," compared with only 46 percent of Catholics polled.
CT has commented on American confidence in organized religion many times, including: a defense of organized religion by senior managing editor Mark Galli; a book excerpt from Tony Campolo's Letters to a Young Evangelical; an author Q&A with Kevin DeYoung on Why We Love the Church, which tied for CT's best church/pastoral leadership book of 2010; and a Her.meneutics post analyzing the implications of Jefferson Bethke's "Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus" viral YouTube video.