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Positive Views of Clergy Honesty, Ethics Continues to Slide

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The percentage of U.S. adults who view clergy as honest and ethical continues to decline, according to a Gallup report released Dec. 20.

Only 37 percent of respondents rated clergy’s honesty and ethical standards as “high / very high,” down five points from 2017 and seven points since 2016.

This continues a downward trend from a high point in 1985 when 67 percent viewed clergy as having “high / very high” honesty and ethics.

Forty-three percent felt clergy were “average” when it came to honesty and ethics, while 15 percent said “low / very low.” The remaining 5 percent expressed no opinion.

Overall, clergy ranked eighth out of 20 professions included in the 2018 poll.

Nurses retained the top spot again, with 84 percent of U.S. adults rating them “high / very high” in honesty and ethics, up two points from last year. Fifteen percent rated nurses “average” and 1 percent “low / very low.”

“With the exception of one year, 2001, when firefighters were on the list after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, nurses have far outpaced all other professions since they were added to the list two decades ago,” Gallup said. “Before 1999, pharmacists and clergy members were frequently the most highly rated professions for their ethics.”

Rounding out the top five in 2018 were medical doctors (67 percent “high / very high”), pharmacists (66 percent), high school teachers (60 percent) and police officers (54 percent).

The bottom five professions were stockbrokers (14 percent), advertising practitioners (13 percent), telemarketers (9 percent), car salespeople (8 percent) and members of Congress (8 percent).

Not only did members of Congress tie for the lowest “high / very high” affirmation, but they received the highest number of “low / very low” responses (58 percent), two points higher than those rating telemarketers as “low / very low.”

The full report is available here.