Americans’ confidence in organized religion has been declining since the 1970s, according to a Gallup poll report. Their newest findings show that just 44 percent of Americans have “a great deal/quite a lot” of confidence in “the church or organized religion,” dropping from 46 percent in 2002 and 46 percent in 2007. These results are from Gallup’s annual poll of “confidence in institutions.” More Protestants express confidence in organized religion than Catholics (56 percent vs. 46 percent).
Researchers suggest that “various sex abuse scandals involving clergy have affected Americans’ growing skepticism about the church and organized religion,” but “the decline in confidence does not necessarily indicate a decline in Americans’ personal attachment to religion.” A separate Gallup poll shows 54 percent of Americans say religion is “very important” in their lives, a number which has held steady since the late 1970s.
Church/organized religion ranks fourth among the 16 institutions polled, which included public schools, banks, television news, and the medical system.