Trust in Organized Religion at Near-Record Low

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From RNS:

Americans trust the military and the police force significantly more than the church and organized religion, a new Gallup Poll says.

Only 46 percent of respondents said they had either a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in the church, compared with 69 percent who said they trusted the military and 54 percent who trust police officers.

The figures are among the lowest for institutionalized religion in the three and a half decades that Gallup has conducted the poll. Peaking at 68 percent in May 1975, the numbers bottomed out at 45 percent in June of 2003.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture

Posted June 26, 2007 at 5:38 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. The Old Circuit Rider wrote:

Given the positions taken by the “Mainline” churches, why should we be surprised?  When the message of The Good News has been so diluted that it no longer exists in many of these “churches” what does one expect?

June 26, 5:46 pm | [comment link]
2. bob carlton wrote:

My own POV is that it is the result of 3 trends intersecting:

1. America is at one of those inflection points where our trust in institutions has ebbed - note that trust in the presidency is at 25% & congress at 14%.  the combo of 8 years of clinton & 6 years of Bush have eroded much of people’s respect for that office - congress, well, have we ever trusted it in our life time ?
2.  Most of the new “mainline” - large church evangelicals - teach a faith that is inconsequential.  It requires little change in the person’s lifestyle - they divorce at the same rate (actually slightly higher), they are wealthier than their “common” friends and their daily practice is not impacted by their faith.  So much of that tradition is a head approach - 45 min sermons, everything explained, very little mystery.
3.  The way in which the late 20-century political landscape either abused faith (GOP) or ignored it (Dems) created a disconect between the moral issues people are animated about (guns, gays, poverty) and the movement of a resurrected Jesus in our lives.

June 26, 6:11 pm | [comment link]
3. The Old Circuit Rider wrote:

#2 My reference to “mainline churches” was related to the large “Name Brand,”——- Methodist, Presbyterian, UCC, churches.
The idea that The Gospel of Our Lord tells of as life changing experience is lacking in many places. Too many want a “feel good”, “get rich quick” religion.
My New Testament does not read this way.  They tell us Our Lord loves us, but they don’t tell us we have to do something about it. The crux of the questions is—“What do we do in response to this experience of meeting the Redeemer?”

June 26, 7:07 pm | [comment link]
4. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

Hmm, might it be the loss of Truth in the churches and the gospel of politics instead of proclamation of the Way, the Truth, and the Life?
Nah, must be a PR thang.

June 26, 9:27 pm | [comment link]
5. The Old Circuit Rider wrote:

#4   Me thinks thou hast spoken a “truth.”

June 26, 9:30 pm | [comment link]
6. The_Elves wrote:

From Irenaeus, posted on another thread.  We think he may have meant it for this thread:

How did the survey questions refer to organized religion? (The term “organized religion” is and always has been pejorative.) The phrasing of the question is relevant to what inferences we can draw from the polling results. Thus, for example, the Southern Baptist Convention is just as “organized” and just as much an “institution” as the United Church of Christ.

June 26, 10:03 pm | [comment link]
7. Irenaeus wrote:

Elves: Right you are. Many thanks!

June 26, 10:19 pm | [comment link]
8. Tom Roberts wrote:

Face it folks, “most people” rather not face the hard issues in life. That is why we get so many converts “in near term contemplation of their eternal rewards” and not before.

June 26, 11:21 pm | [comment link]
9. Bob from Boone wrote:

A colleauge returned from two weeks of study at the University of Wales in Lampeter. While there he asked numerous university students why they did not attend church or otherwise participate in organized religion. The repeated answer went something like this: all we hear in church is squabbling over one thing or another; why waste our time with that?
I would make the observation that most of the sqabbling going on in TEC and other churches is carried on by people over 50. Younger people, for the most part, do not seem to me to be interested.

June 26, 11:21 pm | [comment link]
10. bob carlton wrote:

One of them is that while people in the pews & on the street say that trust in organized religion is near an all-time low,  87% of clergy surveyed (compared to 47% of all workers on average) stated that they were “very satisfied” with their work in a recent U.S. survey.  This is a classic sign of something seriously broken, of some hard-core “whistling past the graveyard”.  We are all complicit in this - people engaged in ministry who puff themselves up, folks in the pew who place them on a pedestal, an entire culture that takes joy in tearing them down.  Visit any church or faith-based NGO - wherever their denominational, theological or political afiliation, what unites them is the mindset that outsources the work we were created to do to a small group of people to complete.

June 26, 11:30 pm | [comment link]
11. John A. wrote:

#8 Tom, I must have missed something.  The TEC is losing members.  Can you send a URL to an article or report that describes the “many converts” you mention?

June 26, 11:32 pm | [comment link]
12. Tom Roberts wrote:

you confuse the general trend with specific accessions, which tend to be geriatric

June 26, 11:39 pm | [comment link]
13. Tom Roberts wrote:

another phenomena to consider is ecusa’s falling attendance and pledge numbers, but rising donations/revenues per pledge. This is a prevalent trend in almost all dioceses as reported in the ecusa stats site.
Hypothesis: there is no more munificient giver to a church than someone’s estate.
Estates don’t question the probity of the last sermon.
Estates don’t wonder about the clerical lifestyles exhibited weekly.
Estates don’t read The Living Church.
Estates distribute the wealth accumulated over several decades.

June 26, 11:47 pm | [comment link]
14. Sidney wrote:

I suspect that dogged insistence on a young earth and rejection of evolution turn off most people who have a grasp of modern science.

June 27, 2:46 am | [comment link]
15. Andrew717 wrote:

I agree to a large extent with #2.  Americans don’t trust much of ANYTHING these days.  Why should we be surprised?  And I would love to know how the question was phrased.

June 27, 12:23 pm | [comment link]
16. Don R wrote:

For the unduly curious (e.g., me), here are the Gallup Poll’s own analysis and the questionnaire with results.

PS As Patti wrote in the “quick tech note” comments, BBCode seems to work pretty well.

June 27, 2:51 pm | [comment link]
17. Andrew717 wrote:

Thanks Don.

June 27, 3:45 pm | [comment link]
18. bob carlton wrote:

and unfortunately, as a result of much of the last 6 years, the world does not trust the u.s. as much as they used to

June 27, 10:58 pm | [comment link]
19. Tom Roberts wrote:

What does that post have to do with the rest of the thread? GWB’s a Methodist so that links to “Trust in Organized Religion at Near-Record Low”? Or ‘everything is related within 6 degrees of relationships’? Then we could post on anything that comes to mind…

June 27, 11:49 pm | [comment link]
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