What do nurses, soldiers,
pharmacists, elementary school teachers, doctors, and police officers have in
Americans say they are all
more ethical and honest than members of the clergy, according to a Gallup
survey released Dec. 3.
Slightly more than half of
Americans (53 percent) rate the moral values of priests, ministers and other
clerics as “very high” or “high.” That percentage is a slight bump from 2009,
when only 50 percent of Americans said men and women of the cloth are ethical
paragons, the lowest number in Gallup’s 32 years of measuring professional
Before the Roman Catholic
clergy sexual abuse scandal erupted in 2002, two-thirds of Americans had
regularly approved of ministers’ morals, according to Gallup.
“Stability is generally the
norm in Americans’ ratings of the honesty and ethics of professions, but
Americans’ opinions do shift in response to real-world events, mostly scandals,
that reflect poorly on a profession,” Gallup said.
A third of Americans this
year said the clergy’s morals are ‘average,” and 8 percent rated them “poor,”
according to the survey.
Bringing up the bottom of
the professional ethics list were lobbyists, car salesmen, and members of
Results for this Gallup poll
are based on telephone interviews conducted Nov. 19-21, 2010, with a random
sample of 1,037 adults, aged 18 and older. The margin of error is plus or minus
4 percentage points.