How much confidence do you have in organized religion?
Gallup asks that question every couple of years, and once again, we can safely say confidence in churches is at an all-time low. Only 36% of Americans say they have a “great deal” of confidence in organized religion.
Confidence in organized religion topped confidence in all other institutions from 1973 to 1985, and, even after falling amid televangelist scandals in the 1980s, it registered at the majority level consistently until 2001. After the Boston Globe‘s 2002 expose revealed Catholic church leaders were aware of and did not take strong action to stop serial sex abuse by priests, confidence in organized religion dropped sharply to 45%. It recovered slightly in the years after the scandal broke, hovering around the 50% mark. Between 2010 and 2017, it regularly registered in the 40s. Since then, in 2018 and 2019, Americans’ confidence in religion has been below the 40% mark.
All the more reason to keep pointing out and criticizing the problems with faith. It’s easier today more than ever — in part because of how Donald Trump has become a magnet for white evangelicals, a pairing that will hopefully become an albatross around their necks for decades to come. In the past couple of years, we’ve also seen major sex scandals in evangelical megachurches, the Southern Baptist Convention, and whatever shopping malls Roy Moore decides to visit.
Then there’s the continued bigotry against LGBTQ people and the advocacy for cruel anti-abortion policies that, if upheld, will inevitably lead to the death of many women.
That said, there is a growing movement of progressive religious leaders who are fighting for social justice. If that Religious Left can gain power leading up to the 2020 elections, it would be good for everybody. They really could restore faith in faith, but in a way that doesn’t mean harm for everyone else.
Until that happens, though, conservative religious people will continue making church less appealing for everyone who doesn’t think or act like them.
(Featured image via Shutterstock)