The Gallup Organization reported that in 2002 public confidence in organized religion sank to its lowest point since 1940.
The group's Leading Religious Indicators index is based on eight gauges of religious life. A perfect score is 1,000. For 2002 the score was 641, 30 points lower than in 2001.The score peaked at 746 in 1956. A decline followed but rose slightly during the 1990s.
Researchers attribute the decline to sex abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church. In 2002, 52 percent of Americans gave high or very high ratings to clergy ethical standards compared to 64 percent in 2001.
Other indicators also declined from 2001 levels. In 2002, 45 percent of Americans said they had a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of "confidence in organized religion," compared to 60 percent in 2001. The percentage of those who had attended church in the last seven days declined (43 percent to 41 percent), as did the percentage of those who said religion is very important in life (60 percent to 58 percent).
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