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Confidence in religion at a new low, poll shows

Americans’ confidence in religion is at an all-time low in four decades, according to a new Gallup poll, while it ranked fourth in the polling firm’s confidence-in-institutions list.

With responses from over 1,500 adults across the U.S., the biennial poll found only 42 percent of Americans say they are confident in their religion, compared to 68 percent in 1975.

Confidence levels are especially low among those who identified as nonreligious or with non-Christian faiths, with just 10 percent of respondents from both categories combined saying they have a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in religion.

“In addition to serious scandals that have come to light surrounding various religious leaders and church institutions in recent decades, the increase in the share of Americans identifying as nonreligious or as members of a non-Christian faith is another reason that confidence in the church has declined,” the report said.

“In the ’80s the church and organized religion were the No. 1,” Lydia Saad, author of the report, told Religion News Service.

But now, the church and organized religion has dropped to fourth on the list, behind the military, police and small businesses.

“The good news for the church is that it still ranks among the more well-respected institutions at a time when fewer than 1 in 4 Americans have confidence in several others, including Congress and the media,” the report said.

While confidence in the church among U.S. Protestants hit a new low at 51 percent, that same percentage among U.S. Catholics is a steadying and increasing rate, after the faith saw a drop to as low as 39 percent in 2007.

Gallup theorized “the leadership of the popular Pope Francis, including his recent initiative to hold high-ranking leaders of the Catholic Church accountable for their role in past child sex abuse scandals, may be a factor.”

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