Clergy contributions rate low in new Pew Research Center poll

A new Pew Research Center poll revealed interesting data regarding American attitudes toward the contributions of clergymen and women in our society.

The Rev. Aaron Anderson of City Church in York delivers a few words at a May chapel service held in a Sovereign Bank Stadium suite with York Revolution players in attendance.DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS - CHRIS DUNN

The Rev. Aaron Anderson of City Church in York delivers a few words at a May chapel service held in a Sovereign Bank Stadium suite with York Revolution players in attendance.DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS – CHRIS DUNN

The poll shows Americans continue to hold the military in high regard, with 78 percent of U.S. adults saying that members of the armed services contribute “a lot” to society’s well-being.

That’s a modest decline from 84 percent four years ago, the last time Pew Research asked the public to rate various professions. But the military still tops the list of 10 occupational groups listed in the survey.

Not surprising, right? Not to me anyway.

I would expect our awesome military to rank No. 1, and would actually be disappointed and shocked if they didn’t. But I also expected clergy to rank closely behind.
They don’t. Teachers actually ranked No. 2 in the survey, followed closely by medical doctors, scientists and engineers. A solid majority of the public says each of those occupations contributes a lot to society.
A couple thoughts here. One, I would never have guessed teachers are so well thought of by Americans. Quite the opposite, I assumed. So that’s good to see.

Secondly, what about your trusted local clergyman??

The survey finds that just 37 percent of Americans think the clergy contribute “a lot” to society, about the same as in 2009. Regular churchgoers tend to be more positive about ministers, priests and other clergy members.

But even among adults who say they attend religious services at least once a week, only about half (52 percent) rate clergy in general as contributing “a lot” to society, while 29 percent say the clergy make “some” contribution, and 11 percent say the clergy contribute “not very much” or “nothing at all.”

What to make of this? Perhaps it’s just all about semantics, with respondents placing emphasis on “a lot.” After all, taken together, 73 percent of respondents said the clergy contribute “a lot” or “some” to society.

Still, the figures seem low. I definitely think the clergymen and women of York County contribute “a lot” to society. What do you think?

PS: Journalists came in eighth in the survey, with 28 percent saying they contribute “a lot” to society. Lawyers came in last, with just 18 percent.

About John Hilton

I grew up in Susquehanna County, Pa. and graduated Syracuse University with a dual degree in journalism/political science in 1998. After working for nearly three years for a weekly paper in upstate New York, I came to southcentral Pennsylvania. I spent 13 years as a reporter and editor for The Sentinel in Carlisle and joined the York Daily Record as religion reporter in September 2011.
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