While confidence in the Church or organized religion remains at historic lows, the poorest Americans, those living in households earning less than $50,000 annually, are more likely to express “a great deal” of confidence in religious institutions, a new survey from Gallup suggests.
The survey was conducted June 1-22 with a random sample of 1,013 adults in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. It measured the faith of Americans in 16 major societal institutions, namely: small business, the military, the police, the medical system, the U.S. Supreme Court, public schools, large technology companies, the presidency, banks, organized labor, newspapers, the criminal justice system, big business, and Congress in addition to the Church or organized religion.
When asked to state how much confidence they have in each institution, only two — small business and the military — had more than 50% of participants choosing collectively between “a great deal” or “quite a lot.”
Only 32% of Americans expressed “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the Church, which is just 1 percentage point higher than the historic low in confidence expressed in 2022.
Broken down further by income, the survey data shows that 21% of respondents earning less than $50,000 expressed “a great deal” of confidence in the Church compared with just 13% of respondents with a household income of $50,000 to $100,000 and a similar share of participants with a household income of more than $100,000 said the same.
The share of respondents who selected “quite a lot” to describe their confidence level in the Church was approximately the same across income levels.
Men also expressed slightly higher confidence levels in the Church than women, 33% vs 29% respectively.
Only 24% of younger American adults, those in the 18-34 age group, expressed high confidence in the Church compared with 32% of adults 35-54 and 35% of adults 55 and older.
The last time more than half of Americans expressed “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the Church was in 2009.
Congress had the lowest high confidence level of all the institutions in the survey, with just 8% of participants saying they had “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in it as an institution. Television news registered 14%, along with big business. The criminal justice system only had 17%; newspapers registered at 18%; organized labor had a 25% vote of confidence; banks had 26%, along with the presidency, public schools, and large technology companies.
The U.S. Supreme Court had just 27% of adults saying they had “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in it as an institution.
While the Church did not get a very strong vote of confidence from U.S. adults, it was still the fifth-highest-ranked institution. Along with small business and the military, only the police, 43%, and the medical system, 34%, received higher votes of confidence from the public.