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3. FRANK KING'S BLOG: Gallup Poll on Clergy Honesty and Ethics 4. 12. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 23. 24.

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In a Gallup poll conducted earlier this month, participants were asked, “Please tell me how you would rate the honesty and ethical standards of people in these different fields—very high, high, average, low, or very low?” According to the results, only 47 percent of Americans rate clergy high in honesty and ethics. Six other professions rated higher: nurses, pharmacists, grade school teachers, medical doctors, military officers, and police officers.
 
Nurses topped the list with a whopping 82 percent of Americans ranking them high in honesty and ethics. For the clergy, this is the first year that its number has dropped below 50% since Gallup first asked about the clergy in 1977.

Now I know that as far as the results of polls go, you can dissect them any number of ways. Click here if you want to read more on the Gallup poll, but in this post, I want to zero in on one particular point and give my take on it. I want to focus on the point that the participants were not limited to people of faith or to churchgoers; rather, the participants constituted a random sample of all adults 18 and older.

I am assuming that if in the survey the participants were limited to the religious community that the clergy would rate higher. Is that necessarily a certainty? No. Among the church family, the numbers could go farther down, but let’s assume that my assumption is right that the clergy would do better if only people of faith were grading them.

But I believe the relevant point to take away from this Gallup poll, if there is one, is that the poll is a reflection of the American public and not just the religious community. I have read a few of the comments in response to the poll results, some of which border on sarcasm. I get all of that. But as a member of the clergy, I believe we must be concerned with how the general public views us in the areas of honesty and ethics.
Why? One, our image in the areas of honesty and ethical standards to those outside the church has bearing on their openness to our message as ministers of the gospel. Two, honesty and high ethical standards are essential to our ability to effectively lead others in their faith experience. Three, one of our objectives as members of the clergy is to endear a commitment to honesty and high ethical standards to those whom we serve as spiritual leaders.

And the message from this recent Gallup poll is that Americans don’t rate the spiritual leaders high in these two vital areas of character.
Copyright © 2013 by Frank King. All rights reserved.

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