by Aaron Earls
Americans’ confidence in the church continues to slide, hitting an all-time low this year.
According to a recent poll from Gallup, only 42 percent of Americans have a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the church or organized religion.
This marks the lowest amount since the question was first asked in 1973, eclipsing the previous low of 44 percent in 2012. And it’s 13 percentage points lower than the historical average (55 percent).
Those who trust the church have not amounted to a majority since 2009. Numbers have not been consistently above 50 percent since the 1990s.
Part of the reason for the historic low is the continued decline of Protestants’ confidence in the church. It reached a new low of 51 percent this year, after settling in the mid-50s for the past five years.
Just over half (51 percent) of Catholics are confident in organized religion, though that represents a steadying of their trust. Catholics had dropped as low as 39 percent in 2007, but have been on a positive trajectory since then. The last two years, a majority of Catholics said they trusted the church—the first time that has happened since 2003-2004.
Not surprisingly, non-Christians and those with no religion were the most skeptical of organized religion. Only 37 percent say they had a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence. Almost 6-in-10 (59 percent) say they have “very little” to “none.”
While at an all-time low, organized religion remains one of the nation’s most trusted institutions, according to a separate Gallup survey. It trails only the military, small business, and the police.
AARON EARLS (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.