Confidence in organized religion continues to decline among U.S. adults, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research (AP-NORC) survey published in late February.
Respondents were presented with the following question, “As far as the people running these institutions are concerned, would you say you have a great deal of confidence, only some confidence or hardly any confidence at all in them?”
They were asked to select one of these three responses based on their perception of 11 institutions.
Only 16% said they had “a great deal of confidence” in organized religion, ranking it ninth of the 11 institutions surveyed, ahead of only the press (14%) and Congress (8%).
This continues a multiyear trend, with confidence dropping from 20% in 2016 to 18% in 2017.
While 47% expressed “some confidence” in organized religion, this is down from 56% in 2016 and from 50% in 2017. It also ranked organized religion 10th, ahead of only the press (43%).
Over the same period, respondents expressing “hardly any confidence at all” in organized religion increased 13 points to 37%.
Only the press (44%) and Congress (43%) had higher numbers of U.S. adults expressing “hardly any confidence at all.”
These findings track with other recent polling about clergy and religious institutions.
In July 2019, both AP-NORC and Gallup released survey results on this topic.
AP-NORC found only 55% of all U.S. adults believe clergy have a positive impact on society. This ranked fifth out of seven professions surveyed.
Gallup reported only 36% of respondents had “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in organized religion, continuing a downward trend since the 1970s when high confidence levels peaked at 68%.
A Pew Research Center survey published in August 2019 found younger adults have far lower confidence in religious leaders than older generations.
Only 50% of respondents ages 18-29 expressed “a great deal” or “fair amount” of confidence in religious leaders, which is six points lower than those 30 to 49 and 21% lower than those 50 or older.
The topline results for the February 2020 AP-NORC survey are available here.