Over the years, a majority of Americans have said they believe the impact of churches on the nation is a positive one -- and according to a study released on Monday, that view hasn’t shifted much.
The Pew Research Center study examined Americans’ views on the impact of several major institutions such as churches and religious organizations; colleges and universities; banks; labor unions; and news media. Though the difference in perspective saw a significant gap across party lines, overall, more than half (59 percent) of Americans said they believe churches and religious organizations have a positive effect.
Republicans were much more likely to say that churches and religious organizations have a positive impact, as 73 percent of Republicans and Republican leaners said so, compared with 50 percent of Democrats and Democratic leaners.
Churches and religious organizations beat out the other institutions when it came to Americans’ trust. Colleges and universities followed close behind, with 55 percent of study participants responding that they believe colleges have a positive effect. Labor unions (47 percent) and banks and other financial institutions (39 percent) followed thereafter, while news media (28 percent) came in last.
These results represent a rather stable view that has been maintained over the years, Pew said.
“Public views of the impact of churches and religious organizations on the country have changed little in recent years,” the study stated.
Among religious groups, those who did not affiliate themselves with any religion were least likely to think positively of churches and religious organizations (34 percent).
Meanwhile, white evangelical Protestants were most likely to believe churches have a positive impact on the country (80 percent).