The views of U.S. adults toward the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormon Church) trend negative and unfavorable, according to a YouGov report published September 12.
Respondents were asked to indicate whether they had a favorable or unfavorable perception of each religious group. Only 7% of U.S. adults said they had a “very favorable” view of the Mormon Church, compared to 10% for the SBC and 14% for the Catholic Church.
Overall, 38% of respondents have a very / somewhat favorable view of the Catholic Church, 31% for the SBC and 21% for the Mormon Church.
By comparison, 47% had very / somewhat unfavorable views toward the Catholic Church, 41% for the SBC and 53% for the Mormon Church. The remaining 14%, 29% and 26%, respectively, were not sure.
A majority (56%) of respondents had heard “a lot” about “allegations of church leaders covering up sexual abuse” in the Catholic Church, with 17% and 16% hearing a lot about this regarding the SBC and the Mormon Church, respectively.
Nearly half (49%) of U.S. adults perceive child sexual abuse to be “a very big problem” in the Catholic church, compared to 22% and 26% in the SBC and the Mormon Church, respectively, while 24%, 20% and 23%, respectively, say it is “somewhat of a problem.”
Less than 10% of respondents are “very confident” that any of the three entities have the ability “to address future child sexual-abuse allegations.” A plurality of U.S. adults said they are “not at all confident” that the Catholic Church (32%), the SBC (23%) or the Mormon Church (27%) can address future allegations.
A plurality of all respondents (38%) also said child sexual abuse is “as common” in churches as in “other walks of life,” with 31% saying it is “more common,” 12% “less common” and 20% unsure. Adults for whom religion is not at all important (50%) were far more likely than those for whom religion was very important (25%) to say child sexual abuse is “more common” in houses of faith.
When asked if “church leaders usually try to prevent the sexual abuse of children, or usually try to cover up the problem,” a plurality (42%) said “cover up.”