Americans are becoming less likely to view clergy in a favorable light, specifically when it comes to issues of ethics and honesty.
Gallup recently found that just 42 percent of Americans believe that American clergy have a “very high” or “high” level of honesty and ethical standards, down from a high of 67 percent back in 1985.
The polling firm, which has measured clergy, among other professions, since 1977, found that a decline in pastoral trust unfolded in 2002 after the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal.
There was a rebound, however, but by 2009, that stat again fell to 50 percent and has been declining ever since that point, as Gallup analysis noted. The 2017 measure is the lowest point on record.
In addition to the 42 percent who gave clergy a “very high” or “high” level of honesty and ethical standards, 41 percent said that religious leaders have “average” standards in this area, while an additional 13 percent said “low” or “very low.”
Clergy were hardly the lowest ranked among the 22 occupations that were examined ion the Gallup analysis. Pastors and clergy ranked ninth behind judges, day care providers, police officers, pharmacists, medical doctors, grade school teachers, military officers and nurses when it came to “very” high” or “high” standards of honesty and ethics.
Nurses were ranked the most positive, with 82 percent of Americans believing that they have “high” or “very high” levels of honesty and ethical standards; just 2 percent said they have “low” or “very low” markings in this area.
The three worst-ranking positions were lobbyists, car salespeople and members of Congress, with just 8 percent, 10, percent and 11 percent of the public giving these individuals high marks on ethics and honesty, respectively.
Congress ranked the worst on the “low” or “very low” ethical and honesty standards front, with 60 percent of the public taking this position — a pretty damning statistic considering their overarching role in American politics.
You can read the full list of professions and see their rankings here.