How much confidence do you have in the church/organized religion?
That’s the question Gallup recently asked people. Then they grouped together the people who had a “Great Deal” or “Quite a Lot” of confidence in the church. Even combined, the resulting trend has a beautiful downward slope:
In 1973, “the church or organized religion” was the most highly rated institution in Gallup’s confidence in institutions measure, and it continued to rank first in most years through 1985, outranking the military and the U.S. Supreme Court, among others. That began to change in the mid- to late 1980s as confidence in organized religion first fell below 60%, possibly resulting from scandals during that time involving famed televangelist preachers Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart. Confidence in religion returned to 60% in 2001, only to be rocked the following year by charges of child molestation by Catholic priests and cover-up by some in the church.
This is why we have to keep pointing out what the church gets wrong. When it comes to issues of homosexuality, the American public is becoming more progressive while churches lag far behind. When it comes to women’s rights, the church isn’t even close to catching up with popular sentiment. And every time we expose religious hypocrisy, every time a church pushes Creationism, every time Christian Scientists choose prayer over actual medicine, people lose confidence in organized religion’s ability to get people practicing what they preach and following the evidence where it leads.
Gallup points out that, despite the downward trend, most Americans still believe religion plays an important role in their lives… but even those numbers have been in decline for decades.
So keep pressing on and pushing back, atheists. It’s working.