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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Clergy Contribute To The Culture of Unbelief

VirtueOnline -- Clergy's Ethical Ratings Drop to 32-Year Low

50% of Americans rated the moral character of clergy high or extremely high.  That is down six points from last year.  It is not below the percentages during the height of the Roman Catholic priest scandal earlier in the decade.  Some speculate the decline is from several years of bad press while others are unsure for the reasons for the decline.  Regardless of the reason, belief in the moral caliber of clergy continue to decline.

Right now, I don't think America trusts the church.  If you do not think highly of the moral character of clergy, one might imagine that your trust in them is low also, leading to a low trust in the church as well.  Furthermore, for many people, clergy are the face of the church and are seen as representatives of God.  A lack of trust in them can contribute to a lack of trust in God.

How does the church win the trust of America?  If we really are interested in reaching "every man, woman and child" as we talk about here in Syracuse, they must trust us before they believe our message.  How will that happen?

What contributes to trust being built?  Constancy of character is one issue.  We trust those who we know will consistently act with good will towards us and towards those we love.  We trust those we believe have our best interests at heart -- people for whom we see they want wellness, greatness, health, happiness and goodness for us.  We believe those who we have a sense of being knowledgeable -- they are proven scholars and experts.  We trust people who are powerful but benevolent with their power.  We trust those who are honest -- even when honesty when it is neither popular nor convenient.  There is no "fine print" to read with those who are honest.  We readily believe those who are humble, not self seeking and forthright with their failings.  To be trustworthy, there is some how enough transparency between our public self and private self and they are found to be consistent and though not perfect generally decent.

I'm sure we would all love to say all these things are true of our clergy, our people and churches.  But it seems obvious to me that when the percentages of those who do not have a high view of the moral character of clergy grow and church attendance decreases along with it, there is a trust problem here.

I guess we can still revel in the fact that America trusts clergy more than Congress.  Only 9 percent of Americans have a high or very high view of them.  But if the church does not build trust with the community it serves, it may only be a little while until we are viewed like Congress.

Comments on "Clergy Contribute To The Culture of Unbelief"


Blogger Rick said ... (8:15 AM, December 27, 2009) : 

I speculate that considerably less than 50% of Americans have a close personal relationship with a clergy person. The percentage of those who do not have a personal relationship with a clergy person are probably basing their impression on nothing more than stereotypes that have been fed by media, third hand stories etc.

Most people do not have personal relationships with US Congressmen. I don't but I do have a casual relationship with one, and I rank his ethical moral character very high, even though if asked, I would probably rank the ethics of congress (as a group) quite low.


Blogger theultrarev said ... (9:34 AM, December 28, 2009) : 

You're probably right about the stereotypes. I wonder how do we stem the tide of distrust in clergy and the church and bust those stereotypes.


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