Americans have little confidence in religion, Congress, news media

Gallup first conducted their Confidence in Institutions poll in 1973, around the time of the Watergate scandal. The ratings have been updated annually since 1983, except for in 1992.

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July 14, 2019 04:06
3 minute read.
Americans have little confidence in religion, Congress, news media

Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem Nourhan Manougian arrives to lead a mass at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem January 18, 2019.. (photo credit: MUSSA QAWASMA / REUTERS)

 
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Americans have very little confidence in organized religion, Congress or news from the TV, Internet or newspapers, according to the Confidence in Institutions poll conducted by Gallup.

Only 38% of Americans said that they had a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in the church or organized religion.

Conservatives and Republicans showed more confidence, with 52% and 48% confidence respectively. In contrast, only 31% of Democrats and 21% of liberals expressed confidence.

From 1973 to 1985, American confidence in organized religion was higher than confidence in any other institution at above 60%. In 1986, confidence in the US military (63%) surpassed confidence in organized religion (57%) for the first time.

A sharp fall in confidence in organized religion (down to 45%) was recorded when an expose was published by the Boston Globe in 2002 revealing that Church leaders had been aware of serial sex abuse by priests and didn't take strong action against the issue.

Protestants reported a 48% confidence rate in organized religion, while only 36% of Catholics were confident in organized religion at that time.

Confidence in Congress has consistently been relatively low and this year that trend continued, with only 11% of Americans expressing a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in Congress.


Congress did rank significantly higher in 1973, with a 42% confidence rating. In 1999, only 21% of Americans expressed a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in Congress.

Confidence in newspapers also ranked low in 2019, with only 23% of Americans expressing a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in print media. Only 20% expressed confidence in TV news and only 16% expressed such a level of confidence in Internet news.

The criminal justice system and big businesses also have low-confidence ratings, with only 24% of respondents expressing confidence in the criminal justice system and 23% of respondents expressing confidence in big business. The criminal justice system has ranked consistently low since the 1990's. Big business has ranked low since the 1970s.

Americans expressed the strongest level of confidence in the military (73%), small business (68%) and police (53%), continuing a trend of majority levels of confidence in the three institutions for the past two decades.

Confidence in the presidency is at 38%, but 44% of respondents expressed very little or no confidence in the US leader, meaning that the total ranking comes out with a net-negative score.

Trump's approval rating sat at 41% as of the June 19-30 period, according to Gallup, while his disapproval rating stood at 54%.

A little more than one third of Americans expressed confidence in the Supreme Court (38%) and medical system (36%). The Supreme Court has maintained a fairly steady level of support since the early 2000's, although the ranking was slightly higher from 1970 until about 2004 with the percentage of Americans expressing confidence hovering around 40% to 50%.

The medical system's ranking has remained around the same since 1993. In 1997, the ranking was significantly higher with 74% of respondents expressing confidence in the medical system.

Slightly less than one-third of respondents have confidence in banks (30%), public schools (29%) and organized labor (29%).

In comparison, Americans expressed more than 40% confidence in banks during the 1980s, while public schools remained between 39% and 58% confidence from 1973 until 1990. The highest ranking organized labor received was 39% confidence in 1977.

Gallup first conducted their Confidence in Institutions poll in 1973, around the time of the Watergate scandal. The ratings have been updated annually since 1983, except for in 1992.

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