Poll: Americans' Confidence in the Church Nears All-Time Low

Americans' confidence in organized religion and other institutions is down across the board compared to last year, a recent Gallup poll found.

Of those surveyed, only 46 percent said they have a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in church/organized religion - one percentage point of being the lowest in Gallup's history since 1973.

Confidence in the church dropped in the wake of the television evangelism scandals of the late 1980s and early 1990s. It then fell significantly in the wake of revelations surrounding the Catholic priest abuse scandal in 2002.

"I would say that [the drop is] because organized religion is organized and it's religious," commented Mark Batterson, lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington. "And what Jesus was about was inviting people to follow him on a spiritual journey and that's a little different deal.

"I don't think people are looking for religion," added Batterson, who is hosting a conference this week to help churches create an impacting "buzz" in their communities. "I think they're looking for God. And unfortunately, they can't always find God in religion and so I think the Church has to find ways to incarnate the truth so that people can hear the Good News in a language they understand."

Among Christians, the Gallup poll found that Protestants are more likely to express confidence in the church compared to Catholics. Confidence in the church or organized religion has dropped from 53 percent in 2004 to 39 percent today among Catholics. Among Protestants, confidence increased from 60 percent in 2004 to 63 percent in 2006 and then dropped to 57 percent today.

What Americans expressed the most confidence in was the military, with 69 percent saying they have a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence. Americans are also more likely to have confidence in small business (59 percent) and the police (54 percent) than the church.

The largest drops in confidence between 2006 and 2007 are seen in ratings for banks (41 percent), the presidency (25 percent), television news (23 percent) and newspapers (22 percent). Americans show the least confidence in Congress with only 14 percent – the lowest in Gallup's history – expressing confidence.

"These low ratings reflect the generally sour mood of the public at this time," stated the Gallup report.

Results from the Gallup poll are based on interviews with 1,007 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted June 11-14.

Christian Post reporter Lillian Kwon in Washington contributed to this report.