Barely Half of Weekly Churchgoers Think Pastors Contribute "A Lot" to Society
Fewer than 4 in 10 Americans think clergy contribute "a lot" to society, according to new data from a survey on which professions Americans respect most.
According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 18 percent of American adults surveyed believe clergy contribute "nothing" to the wellbeing of society, and another 36 percent believe clergy contribute "some." That's just one percent less than those who believe clergy contribute "a lot."
The percentages have stayed more or less constant since the last time Pew asked the question in 2009. Clergy rank lower in public esteem than the military, teachers, medical doctors, scientists, and engineers, but higher than artists, journalists, business execs, and lawyers.
But according to Pew, even among regular churchgoers (those who report attending services at least once a week), barely half (52 percent) rate clergy as contributing "a lot"—and more than 1 in 10 church-going respondents say the clergy contribute "not very much/nothing."
White evangelical Protestants have the same narrow majority (52%) as weekly churchgoers.
In other recent research, Gallup noted the seven people Americans trust more than their pastor, and Barna found that Americans are more influenced by professional athletes than by pastors.
Yet Americans still admire evangelist Billy Graham, who has appeared on Gallup's "Most Admired Man" list a record-breaking 56 times since 1955.