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Americans losing confidence in religion, poll shows

Published July 17, 2012 2:38 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Americans' confidence in organized religion, slowly but steadily declining since the 1970s, slipped to a new low in the latest survey, the Gallup reported.

Today, 44 percent of Americans have "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in "the church or organized religion," Gallup said, down from 68 percent in the mid-1970s.

Pollsters did not name any church or religion in particular, letting respondents define that as they wished.

Most Protestants, 56 percent, expressed confidence in the church; a minority, or 46 percent, of Catholics did.

But Lydia Saad, Gallup senior editor, pointed out that the question deals with churches and organized religion. Americans generally remain a religious people, although increasingly on their own terms.

In 2007, a poll by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found about one in six respondents said religion was "not too" or "not at all" important in their lives.

Five percent said they did not believe in God or a universal spirit.

Saad said "the church or organized religion" in 1975 was the highest-rated of the 16 institutions Gallup asked about.

Now it ranks fourth. The top three institutions Americans have most confidence in are, in order, the military, small business and the police.

The least-trusted institution is Congress, in which 13 percent of Americans voice "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence.

Health maintenance organizations and banks follow right behind Congress.

The survey included 1,004 adults and was taken June 7-10.