Attitudes Toward Clergy and Religious Leadership

Attitudes Toward Clergy and Religious Leadership

Just over half (55 percent) of Americans say clergy members and religious leaders have a positive impact on society, with those who identify with a religion (62 percent) or who attend services at least two or three times a month (77 percent) more likely to say so, a survey conducted by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds. Based on a survey of more than eleven hundred adults, the report, Attitudes Toward Clergy and Religious Leadership (11 pages, PDF), found that respondents were more likely to say that teachers (84 percent), medical doctors (83 percent), scientists (80 percent), and members of the military (75 percent) have a positive impact on society than clergy members and religious leaders. And while 47 percent of respondents said they welcomed clergy having some or a lot of influence in their lives, including 59 percent of those who identify with a religion, only 24 percent of all respondents and 30 percent of those with a religious affiliation reported consulting a clergy member before making an important decision, with one in five respondents saying they were extremely likely to consult a clergy member about volunteering or charitable giving (21 percent) and marriage, divorce, and relationships (21 percent), compared with only 8 percent who said they turned to clergy for advice about family planning and 7 percent who consulted clergy about matters of sex and sexuality.

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