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Americans Have Lost Faith In Religious Leaders

When surveyed, almost all Americans say they believe in God, a majority say they pray and more than a third say they go to religious services every week.

But in a new book on religious trends in the United States, a Duke University professor says this picture of an unflinchingly faithful America is not quite accurate. At least when it comes to traditional religious practices, Americans' belief has faded in recent decades, says professor Mark Chaves.

Take the well-known fact that fewer Americans are joining the clergy. The Roman Catholic Church in the United States, for example, has experienced a sharp decline in priests.

Part of the reason, Chaves says, could be that Americans have lost respect for religious leaders. That's one of several findings in his book "American Religion: Contemporary Trends," which is being released Sunday.


"The American public has lost confidence in leaders of all sorts,” Chaves says. “But the loss of confidence in religious leaders has been more precipitous.”

Americans also have less interest in traditional religious practices than they once did, he adds. The percentage of Americans who attend church or other worship services has declined slightly over the past four decades, Chaves says.

Perhaps more striking is the evidence that many Americans exaggerate their church attendance. About 35 to 40 percent claim to attend church, but only 25 percent actually do. That's based on comparisons between the General Social Survey and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' American Time Use Survey, which ask, respectively, what Americans generally spend their time doing and what Americans actually spent their time doing on a specific day.

Chaves cites several reasons for this loss of faith in traditional religion, including the ongoing sex-abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church, which first broke out in Boston in the early 2000s.


Please click HERE to see the rest of the article, including a video about the "vocation crisis."

Please see "The Weakness of Institutionalized Religion" in The Urantia Book for some fresh insight on why the churches are in such severe decline, and what can be done...

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