Trust in clergy is at its lowest levels among Americans, a new survey has found.
According to the Gallup poll, only 47% of the over 1,000 American adults surveyed said their trust in the clergy is either “very high” or “high”.
This represents a 5% drop from 2012, and is the lowest that number has been since Gallup began recording trustworthiness of professions in 1977.
Since then, the numbers describing their trust in clergy as “very high” or “high” has swung between 50% and 65%.
The highest result was in 1985 where 67% of people rated Clergy in those categories.
Nurses are regarded as the most trustworthy, with 82% putting their trust in them at “very high” or “high”.
Other professions that rank higher than clergy in terms of trust are:
• grade school teachers (70%)
• pharmacists (70%)
• doctors (69%)
• military officers (69%)
• police officers (54%)
Professions that rank lower than clergy are:
• childcare providers (46%)
• judges (46%)
• nursing home staff (32%)
• car mechanics (29%)
• bankers (27%)
• local office holders (23%)
Members of Congress, car salespeople, and lobbyists were considered the least trustworthy, receiving 9%, 8% and 6% respectively.
2013 also saw the highest percentage (11%) describing their trust in clergy as “low” or very low”.
Despite the substantial drop in trust towards clergy over the last four decades, the number of people rating them as “low” or “very low” in trustworthiness has remained largely stable at around the 10% mark.
Gallup has said that in its analysis of trustworthiness, the primary influencing factor is stereotypes, which often take a very long time to overcome.
Although the explanation for this specific slump in trustworthiness is unclear, Gallup has said it believes the overall drop in trustworthiness since the early 2000s is linked to the revelations of child abuse crimes by various Church leaders.
Conversely, they put the growing trust in nursing home carers down to the fact that memories of scandals involving care home operators in the 1970s have faded.
“If views of a certain profession have changed, it usually has been a function of scandal surrounding it,” said Gallup.
“The Catholic priest abuse stories from the early 2000s helped lead to a sharp drop in Americans’ ratings of clergy, a decline from which the profession has yet to fully recover.”