Confidence in the clergy has recovered partially since the Catholic sexual abuse scandals of 2002, but remains below where it stood two years ago, according to an annual Gallup Poll ranking the honesty and ethics of various professions.

Nurses topped the list of 23 different professions, with 83 percent ranking them “high” or “very high” with regard to honesty and ethical standards. Other high-ranking jobs include medical doctors (68 percent), veterinarians (68 percent) and pharmacists (67 percent).

At the bottom of the list are car salesmen (7 percent), HMO managers (11 percent) and insurance salesmen and advertising practitioners (both 12 percent).

Clergy ranked ninth on the list, with a 56 percent honesty and ethics rating, behind policemen and engineers (59 percent) and ahead of psychiatrists (38 percent) and bankers (35 percent).

While ranking the medical professions as highly ethical, Americans have less confidence in their government or business leaders.

State governors (26 percent), senators (20 percent) and congressmen (17 percent) all ranked in the bottom tier. Journalists fared little better, with a 25 percent favorable ranking.

While business executives have never scored well on measures of ethics and honesty, the image of business executives dropped to an all time low last November, probably in the wake of corporate scandals including Enron and WorldCom, and increased only 1 percent this year, to 18 percent.

While the percentage of Americans ranking clergy’s ethical standards still hasn’t recovered to the 64 percent of “high” or “very high” in November 2001, this year’s 56 percent is up four points from last year. While still down slightly from the 2000 survey, the clergy ranking is close to the historical average of 58 percent.

The survey results are based on telephone interviews with 1,004 adults conducted Nov. 14-16. The sampling margin of error is 3 percent.

See the full analysis of the survey in Gallup News Service.

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