Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Public Distrust of Clergy Is Growing

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The results of a new Gallup survey will warm the hearts of those who believe religion and clergy are afforded too much deference: Americans' rating of the honesty and ethics of the clergy has fallen to 47%.  Perhaps more encouraging or discouraging depending upon one's prospective (I see it as encouraging), only 32 percent of Millennials (those age 18 to 34 years) view clergy as trustworthy.  same.  Given the sex abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church - and the fact that no one has been punished - combined with sleazy televangelists (why does Pat Robertson spring to mind?) and the overt racism of many self-styled Christian "family values" organizations, it is easy to understand the revulsion toward the clergy of Milennials.  These finding on the declining view of clergy also further underscore the long term idiocy of the GOP in its quest to totally prostitute itself to Christofascists.  Here is a summary of the survey findings:
Americans' rating of the honesty and ethics of the clergy has fallen to 47%, the first time this rating has dropped below 50% since Gallup first asked about the clergy in 1977. Clergy have historically ranked near the top among professions on this measure, hitting a high rating of 67% in 1985.
As Christianity Today noted, trust in the clergy varied significantly depending on one's political affiliation and age:
Americans are divided along party lines, as well as age. Gallup found more trust in clergy among Republicans (63%) than Democrats (40%). Similarly, clergy members appear more trustworthy to older Americans than millennials: half of Americans older than age 55 trust clergy members, while only 32 percent of millennials (18 to 34 years) report the same.
In an unrelated post, Bob Felton looks at another possible reason for the decline in trust in clery: the clergy are lying to the sheeple and they know that they are lying but they keep on lying.  The following quote comes from a former seminarian:
Without devolving into extraneous details, I will say that it was my seminary courses, the texts, coursework, lectures and research, which cast into question Biblical authority and thereby theology. While I had studied the Bible devotionally for years, it was only in the context of seminary that I was expected to study it critically. In other words, is the Bible the inerrant, infallible, unchanging word of God? Was it what it purported to be? Learning that the bulk of the Hebrew scriptures were altogether fictitious, plagiarized versions of other ancient mystery religions with a desperate agenda to galvanize and perpetuate an ethnic minority, and then to learn that the Gospels were not in fact the actual words or deeds of Jesus, since they were authored in thousands of variant forms generations after the death of Jesus, all produced an intellectual and theological crisis for which I could no longer authenticate myself as a minister of the gospel.

Curiously, my seminary professors cautioned us that the churches we served, that the congregations we pastored, weren’t ready to understand the Bible in these terms . . . 
 All things considered, I continue to view religion - especially fundamentalist denominations - as an overall negative force in the world.  Hate, hypocrisy, violence towards others, and bigotry are religion's main fruits and outweigh any positive benefits that might flow from it.  Hopefully, more and more Americans are figuring this out.

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