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Young Adults Have Less Confidence in Religious Leaders

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The percent of U.S. adults under 30 who have confidence in religious leaders lags significantly behind older adults, according to a Pew Research Center analysis published Aug. 6.

When asked, “How much confidence, if any, do you have in each of the following to act in the best interests of the public?” only 50% of respondents ages 18-29 expressed “a great deal” or “fair amount” of confidence in religious leaders.

This is six points lower than those 30 to 49 and 21% lower than those 50 or older.

The military was the only other occupation surveyed with a wider disparity, seeing a 22% gap between respondents ages 18-29 (69% expressing a great deal or fair amount of confidence) and those ages 50-plus (91%), compared to 81% percent of respondents between 30 and 49.

The smallest generational gap was for elected officials, with 34% of 18- to 29-year-olds expressing a great deal or fair amount of confidence, 36% among 30- to 49-year-olds, and 38% among those 50 or older.

Younger generations had greater confidence than older generations for only three of the surveyed occupations: scientists, journalists and college / university professors.

“Despite their comparatively skeptical outlook on many questions, young Americans are less likely than their older counterparts to see certain trust-related issues as major problems for the country,” the report said. “Social and institutional trust patterns can be complicated … and there is reason to believe that young adults’ views and behaviors might change as they get older – and as the world around them changes.”

The full report is available here.