As Americans become less religious, confidence in the Church as an institution is plummeting.
According to a recent Gallup poll, faith in organized religion dropped this year to just 42% in the U.S., its lowest point ever.
More Americans are now identifying as non-religious or as members of a non-Christian faith, according to the poll, which came from a sample of 1,527 individuals, including Protestants and Catholics, from all 50 states.
Approval of the church and organized religion in general has been steadily declining since the 1980s, the Gallup study said. The church is in fourth place on Gallup’s confidence in institutions list, behind the military, small businesses and the police.
According to Gallup, the biggest recent drop seems to be amongst Protestants, not necessarily Catholics. Confidence in the Protestant Church fell from 55% to 51% in the past year in a steady decline since it reached 65% approval in 2009.
With the renewed efforts to hold priests accountable in sex scandals, Pope Francis has managed to steady the Catholic Church’s reputation. Americans’ confidence in the Holy See has stayed above 50% for two years in a row now for the first time since 2003 and 2004, a big improvement over their lowest confidence rating of 39% in 2007.