A majority of U.S. adults affirms the morality of religious leaders, according to a YouGov report published February 11.
Just over half (53%) says religious leaders are very (18%) or somewhat (35%) moral, while 30% feel religious leaders are very (12%) or somewhat (18%) immoral. The remaining 17% are unsure.
The survey featured 16 occupations, with religious leaders ranking fifth – behind doctors (68%), teachers (66%), therapists (64%) and scientists (58%) – in the percentage of very or somewhat moral responses.
Computer scientists were one-point behind religious leaders, while none of the other professions surveyed had a majority say that people in those positions are very or somewhat moral.
Of the top six professions, religious leaders had the highest number (30%) of respondents say they are very or somewhat immoral. By comparison, 22% feel scientists, 20% computer scientists, 19% teachers, 18% therapists and 17% doctors are very or somewhat immoral.
Affirmation of the morality of religious leaders increased with age: 18-30 (46% say very or somewhat moral), 30-44 (49%), 45-64 (53%) and 65 and older (65%).
Respondents living in the South (58%) were more likely than those in the Northeast (51%), the Midwest (50%) or the West (40%), and Republicans (65%) were more likely than Democrats (53%) or Independents (45%), to affirm the morality of religious leaders.
When presented with the question, “From where, if anywhere, did you mainly learn about right and wrong, and morality?” only 7% said “from attending church/religious organization” – the same as those who said, “from educators.” The majority of respondents (61%) said “from parents or caretakers.”
Republicans (10%) were more likely than either Independents (6%) or Democrats (5%) to say, “from attending church / religious organizations.”
Respondents aged 18-29 (9%) were slightly more likely than respondents 65 and older (7%), 30-44 (6%) and 45-64 (5%) to say from church or a religious organization, and within the 29 and under age group, men (14%) were far more likely than women (5%) to say this.
The full report is available here. The topline results, noting a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points, are available here.