Among the list of U.S. institutions—banks, the medical system, the U.S. Supreme Court, Congress—where would you pin organized religion?
According to a recent Gallup poll, it comes in fourth, falling behind the military, small business, and police. Only 44 percent of Americans have a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in the church—a downward fall that has been the trend since its height in the 1970s.
Drilling down, Protestants tend to have higher confidence—56 percent—in their churches than Catholics, who fall in at 46 percent. (Commentary is linking this to the child abuse scandals.)
Organized religion isn't alone in this. The overall lack of confidence in American institutions is evident across the board, with television news at 21 percent and Congress at an abysmal 13 percent. Even public schools come in at 29 percent.
But is this at all surprising?