Pro Athletes Influence Society More Than Pastors, Say Two-Thirds of Americans

Barna survey also examines public awareness of the faith of top athletes.

In December, Gallup looked at the seven people Americans trust more than their pastor. Today, the Barna Group reported that Americans believe professional athletes influence society more than pastors "by more than a three-to-one margin."

Released just before the Superbowl, Barna's survey suggests that 64 percent of Americans think pro athletes have more influence in society than professional faith leaders, whereas 19 percent think faith leaders have more influence. (The rest say both have equal influence (8%) or are not sure (10%).)

"Sports figures are deemed most influential by those making $60,000-plus, college graduates, whites and parents," notes Barna. "Those most likely to select faith leaders were weekly church attenders and those with incomes under $40,000."

Barna also found that 61 percent of Americans support athletes' public professions of faith (including most evangelicals (88%), blacks (79%), Boomers (66%), parents of children under 18 (66%), and women (65%)), with the most cited ...

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