Americans’ regard for religious clergy’s honesty and ethics at all-time low

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No surprise there, given the recent and ongoing news about pedophile priests (even cardinals), and their enabling superiors.

Gallup has measured the public’s views of the honesty and ethical standards of a variety of occupations since 1976.

Before 1999, clergy members were frequently the most-highly rated professions for their ethics, but no more.

Megan Brenan writes for Gallup, Dec. 20, 2018, that Gallup has measured Americans’ views of the clergy’s honesty and ethics 34 times beginning in 1977. The high point was in 1985 when 67% of Americans rated the clergy very highly or highly.

This year, however, only 37% gave very high/high ratings on the clergy’s honesty and ethical standards — the lowest to date.

Positive views of the honesty and ethics of the clergy dropped in 2002 amid the first sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church. Although positive ratings rebounded somewhat in the next few years, they fell to 50% in 2009 and have been steadily declining since 2012.

The latest low ratings of the clergy come on the heels of more investigations into child sex abuse by Catholic priests in the U.S. Currently, only 31% of Catholics and 48% of Protestants rate the clergy positively.

Here’s how other professions are regarded in Gallup’s recent poll (Dec. 3-12, 2018):

  • Nurses are the most well-regarded: More than 4 in 5 Americans (84%) rate the honesty and ethical standards of nurses as “very high” or “high,” earning them the top spot for the 17th consecutive year.
  • Four other professions are also rated as having “high” or “very high” honesty and ethical standards: medical doctors (67%), pharmacists (66%), high school teachers (60%) and police officers (54%).
  • 12 occupations receive “average” ratings of 42% to 54% for their honesty and ethical standards. Among them are real estate agents (54%) and lawyers (51%).
  • Members of Congress are again held in the lowest esteem, worse than car salespeople and telemarketers. Nearly 58% of Americans rate their representatives in Congress as having “low” or “very low” ethical standards.
  • Incredibly, journalists are doing better: their 33% very high/high rating matches their record high in 1977 and is a 10 percentage point increase from two years ago in December 2016, when 41% of Americans held a negative opinion of their ethics. The rebounding of journalists is largely due to Democrats — yet another example of how Democrats and Republicans view reality very differently:
    • 54% of Democrats gave very high/high ratings on journalists’ honesty, a 21-point increase since 2016.
    • Among political independents, roughly one-third each say journalists have high, average and low ethics.
    • Republicans‘ views are unchanged, with 61% giving journalists low ethics ratings.

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11 responses to “Americans’ regard for religious clergy’s honesty and ethics at all-time low

  1. Well, I won’t try to diminish the fact that Catholic clergy has been having a pretty dismal time. The hierarchy has not distinguished themselves either. I always caution that The Church is constantly under fire and Protestant abuse is not hyped nearly as much as Catholic abuse issues are. Nonetheless, it shouldn’t be happening.

    Having said that, do I trust Protestant clergy more? No, I don’t. But, the two are hard to compare due to priestly formation issues and the living arrangements of the two.

    To be honest, years ago when I would take my kids to catechism, I wouldn’t leave them alone with a priest unless I knew him well. That’s a sad thing to say, but its a fact and I can’t do anything about it.

    Catholic clergy will never regain trust until the hierarchy does what has to be done. I suspect they are all just hoping it goes away. It won’t.

  2. Dr Eowyn, this is an excellent article. I am tickled pink that members of Congress rate lower than car salesmen and telemarketers–that certainly says something. I absolutely agree with that assessment, members of our Congress for the most part are sleazy, greasy, slimy, money grubbing individuals.

  3. There’s also the problem of so many being lukewarm, likened to the lukewarmedness of the eunuch, having one foot in the church and the other firmly planted in the soft life. As it says in Revelation 3:15-16, “I know of thy doings, and find thee neither cold nor hot; cold or hot, I would thou wert one or the other. Being what thou art, lukewarm, neither cold nor hot, thou wilt make me vomit thee out of my mouth.”

  4. Here is a review from the web on my local Catholic Church…..

    “You will often hear Democrat talking points (gun control, environmentalism, corporate greed, minimum wage). Youth ministry participation can be prohibitively expensive, especially if you have a lot of kids. I didn’t like how much meditative yoga was pushed (not comfortable with that). No communion on the tongue allowed. There’s a very strong sewer smell outside the Church – not sure what’s up with that. You might be turned off if you have conservative values or want to see pro-life initiatives, standing against gay marriage, etc (non-judgment zone…don’t dare bring these topics up for fear of offending anyone). Went to a marriage vow renewal ceremony and was surprised to see a gay couple kissing behind us – everyone seemed enthused by their presence. Priest was quoting Buddha, which kinda freaked out my evangelical wife. ”

    Since no one from hierarchy dictates priests what to say in their sermons, I can only guess that with a Marxist Pope in the Vatican and all the commie diarrhea flowing from his mouth, that now all the homo priests feel free to push their personal liberal, social justice values on everyone- It’s the same in so many Catholic Churches – at least here in Ca. A few years ago someone who I highly respect told me to forget the political aspects of the Church and just go back and be in the presence, hear the Word spoken, an receive communion……and all the above was not happening at that point. I did so, and started by going by this same Church one afternoon to check out confession times. The priest was so rude and unwelcoming I left, and never went back. Probably best because the perversion of Christs teachings going on now is way beyond the pale. I admit, I miss Mass and the Catholic Church that I once knew, but I hardly expect things to turn around- at least not in my lifetime.

    • It is true that particular priests are influenced by the timbre of the seminary they attended as well as the proclivities of their bishop. I have heard enough homilies to be pretty good at identifying how the priest “leans”.

      Bishops DO care about their priest’s homilies. I have personally seen priests removed for erratic behavior. In truth, as in most things in life, the rich usually get their way with the bishop.

      People are free to do whatever they will. The Church remains The Church in my mind regardless of the failings of its clergy. I was once a Protestant and I will never be one again. I think it was a profound error to destroy the unity of the Church and I haven’t changed my mind.

      I don’t “shop” for churches that please me. I used to work with RCIA (that’s the Rite that brings new Catholics into the Church), and I got my share of inquirers asking about what sort of softball team we had and various other inducements.

      It is not about that. It is IN the world but not OF the world. It incorporates all of the sin that humans have as it is essentially made up of sinful humans. The tenets remain the same, although the latest Pope stretches credulity. He has not “changed” a tenet….yet.

      I am confident that it will right itself just as it has for over two thousand years. The laity is still strong and the clergy struggles to catch up. The current bishops and the seminaries are the key at the moment.

      As you say, if they got serious today I doubt that it would be “fixed” in my lifetime either. It could certainly be much improved. It isn’t helpful that “Francis” has NWO ideas. I can only guess how we got him. I think Fr. Martin was accurate in this regard.

  5. I really don’t think polls can be very objective; Even when they really do attempt to be objective, just how objective can they really be? Maybe everything is relative.

    I was a high school English teacher in NYC for 12 years. Some teachers, although almost of them tilted left, were fairly moral if albeit misguided people. Yet I found those teachers who were overtly communistic to be the absolute scum of the earth: They enlisted students to fight their battles for them.
    As someone who has driven a cab since those days, I can tell you that the livery business tends to attract the low-end clientele in its tentacles: Ex-cons, dope fiends and degenerate gamblers tend to rule the roost. (Or at least they did until Uber upended them).
    As for members of Congress, I think we’re largely in agreement regarding such lowlifes like Nancy Pelosi, Mad Maxine Waters, Chuck Schumer and Shelia Jackson Lee. Yes, everyone loves to focus on the negative, and these “specimens” sure are negativity magnets. But what about two of the good ones, like Louis Gohmert and Steven King?

    Nurses held in high regard? I dated a few of them. Let me tell you this: Nurses have a professional hazard, and that hazard is to be control freaks. Take it from me, they can be worse than the old-fashioned nuns many of us endured, and make no mistake: They do hold the power of life and death over their patients—or they can if they want to!
    Ditto doctors: The old-fashioned days of the country doctor are long gone. The entire field of medicine has been politicized, and it happened long before Obamacare came along.

    Again, I ask: Exactly how objective can a poll be? Or, put it another way: Even if a poll can accurately state how many people hold an occupation in high regard, are those people polled objective? Can they be?

    So it comes to the priesthood. I humbly submit that Vatican II was the biggest and longest-lasting criminal fraud every perpetrated in all of human history. For those who infiltrated the Church did it with little to no resistance from the rest of humanity, and now those subverters occupy the same legal and juridical space as the real Catholics. They have build a parallel Church which is an unreality. And it has affected the priesthood itself.
    Real sermons have disappeared: I remember the old fire-and-brimstone sermons. Nope. No more. Now the priest is out to persuade us that he is just one of us. It doesn’t work with me: I know I am weak. Like my father when I was a boy, I want that priest to be tough. I want him to be tougher than I. Ever the vacillating sinner, I need the ethical proof that a tough image conveys, and for this reason: The priest is not a salesman or a politician. He is no guru or guide, let alone a therapist. The priest is supposed to act “in persona Christi,” in the person of Christ, so he must maintain and project that image, even if he is weak himself. Because as far as obedience goes, even the semblance of free will matters.
    I don’t want priests (or nuns, or anyone else, for that matter) to be gay. So: Tell me why this gay man, giving a lukewarm sermon, trying to pass himself off as just a regular man, should be trusted? Looked to for real guidance? How can I tell he is for real? The real church-goer is not looking for his moral equal as if the moral plane were a libertarian plateau, No: He is looking for his moral superior. This much the poll got right.

    But I do get this much: When God is angry with His people, he sends us defective shepherds. And there is no lack of defects in these shepherds today! But here is the twist: These times call for each believer to double down in his intent, in his knowledge and prayer, and make up his mind to get to heaven, despite the malaise history is in.

    And, Yes, we’re going to have to do it, despite whomever the man who claims he is Pope happens to be.

    • God Bless you Steven, your comments above are spot on–particularly the next to the last paragraph . . . “These times call for each believer to double down in his intent, in his knowledge and prayer, and make up his mind to get to heaven, despite the malaise history is in.” This is truly the rock bottom advice that each and every person should be following.

      I always enjoy reading your submissions. Thank you.

  6. Then my attitude matches a poll for the first time ever!

  7. I’ve said that it is easy for a deviant to hide under a cloak and get away with their superiors approval. Long ago priests were regarded the family’s pride and joy, a man of God, couldn’t get any better for a family to say “my son is a priest” but we soon found out it was the easiest way for a sick SOB stepping off the pulpit and after the service prey on the innocent. There is a significant decline in the priesthood and will continue because the sacred is tainted. The mistrust is profound, why confess my sins to a perpetrator when I can do it in a solemn moment in my room reconciling with my Creator and Savior?

  8. It actually is pederasty not pedophilia which is the issue with Catholic clergy. There is a huge homosexual problem in the Church; created on purpose by people like Bella Dodd (who repented and testified to Congress) about the infiltration of the Catholic church with homosexuals and communists.


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