Americans have little confidence in religion, congress, news media: Poll

(Photo: House of Representatives)

Americans' confidence in the major U.S. institutions continues to lag below historical averages, with two institutions – religion and newspapers -- dropping to record lows this year, a new poll reveals.

The overall average of Americans expressing "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in 14 institutions is below 33 percent for the third straight year according to a recent Gallup poll.

Gallup first conducted their Confidence in Institutions poll in 1973, around the time of the Watergate scandal involving President Richard Nixon.

The ratings have been updated annually since 1983, except for in 1992.

Only 38 percent of Americans said that they had a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in the Church or organized religion.

Americans' confidence in key U.S. institutions has remained relatively low since 2007.

That year, the average for the 14 institutions Gallup has asked about annually since 1993 dropped to 32 percent from 38 percent in 2006.

Gallup began asking about a 15th institution, small business, in 2007.

From 1993 to 2006, the average had been below 38 percent only once -- in 1994, when it dipped to 36 percent.

Confidence in banks, which took a hit amid the bursting housing bubble in 2007 and 2008, and dropped further after the ensuing financial crisis, fell the most, plunging from 49 percent in 2006 to 27 percent now.

Confidence in organized religion, which has felt the effects of the scandals enveloping the Catholic Church over how it dealt especially with sex abuse scandals, dropped from 52 percent to 41 percent, one point below last year's previous low of 42 percent.

Television news, newspapers and the U.S. Congress all dropped 10 points, pushing newspapers to a 20 percent confidence level, two points below their previous low of 22 percent in 2007 and 2014.

Despite the declining percentages of Americans having high confidence in these institutions, the majority have at least "some" confidence in all but one of them.

"Congress has the ignominious distinction of being the only institution sparking little or no confidence in a majority of Americans," wrote Gallup analyst Jim Norman

"Americans clearly lack confidence in the institutions that affect their daily lives: the schools responsible for educating the nation's children; the houses of worship that are expected to provide spiritual guidance; the banks that are supposed to protect Americans' earnings; the U.S. Congress elected to represent the nation's interests; and the news media that claims it exists to keep them informed," Norman noted..

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