Gallup recently released its results of the annual “confidence in institutions” poll. “The church or organized religion” hit an all-time low, with 44% of respondents saying that they have a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in “the church or organized religion.”
That organized religion has hit an historic low doesn’t surprise me. Actually, I’m a bit surprised that religion does as well as it does in this survey. It does better than “the medical system” (41%), the presidency (37%), the U.S. Supreme Court (37%), public schools (29%), organized labor (21%), banks (21%), big business (21%), and Congress (13%). The only institutions that do better than organized religion are “the military” (75%), small business (63%), and the police (56%).
Protestants continue to have more confidence in organized religion than Catholics (56% to 46%). I would imagine that this has mainly to do with the ongoing sex abuse cases that plague the Catholic church in the U.S.
Those of us who care about the church should be aware of and concerned about the lagging confidence identified by the Gallup organization. But it would be foolhardy to engage in some sort of PR campaign to improve the church’s reputation. Rather, we need to live out the authentic Gospel in today’s culture with integrity and relevance.