What do you know? With relentless sexual abuse scandals located in the churches, and evangelicals’ rock-solid support for the First Felon, public regard for clergy continues to decline.
Clergy’s Ethical Rating Continues to Decline
While journalists have experienced a surge in positive ratings, the opposite is true for the clergy. Gallup has measured Americans’ views of the clergy’s honesty and ethics 34 times beginning in 1977, and this year’s 37% very high/high rating is the lowest to date. Although the overall average positive rating is 54%, it has consistently fallen below that level since 2009. The historical high of 67% occurred in 1985.
Positive views of the honesty and ethics of the clergy dropped in 2002 amid a sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church, and although positive ratings rebounded somewhat in the next few years, they fell to 50% in 2009 and have been steadily declining since 2012.
The Pious will insist that this is evidence of the wickedness of “the world,” but the humdrum truth is that the Christian narrative is false, the ethical teachings are cultish, and the Christian business model amounts to no more than degrading the insecure into submission and then exploiting them — a schtick that just doesn’t work any more.
Meantime, we have an example of the converse of the old rule “You’re known by the company you keep,” which is this: You are known by your enemies, too. Yes, journalists are enjoying a nice uptick in public regard, doubtless because Donald Trump, a corrupt madman, can barely make it to the end of a sentence without denouncing them.
Since 1976, Gallup has asked Americans to rate the ethical standards of journalists 29 times, and the overall average positive rating over that period is 26%. Until 2016, strong pluralities or majorities rated journalists as “average,” but after the 2016 presidential campaign, the public’s ratings of journalists declined. In December 2016, 41% of Americans held a negative opinion of their ethics.
Yet this year, positive assessments of journalists’ ethical standards have rebounded, owed largely to shifting opinions of Democrats and independents, who may be reacting to President Donald Trump’s repeated characterizations of the news media as “the enemy of the people.”
It’s just as I never tire of saying: Reality always has the last word.