the shape of leadership

Americans Favor the Church Above Universities and the Media

Nearly 60 percent say churches have a positive impact

Influence Magazine on July 17, 2017

Americans view churches more favorably than a number of other institutions, including colleges and universities, labor unions, banks, and the news media, according to a recent report from Pew Research Center.

Nearly 6 in 10 U.S. adults say the church has a positive effect on the country, while 26 percent say it has a negative effect. By comparison, 55 percent have positive views of postsecondary learning institutions, and 36 percent believe higher education is doing more harm than good. Just 26 percent believe the national news media is helping the country, compared to 63 percent who say the media’s effect is negative.

Only liberal Democrats have a more positive outlook on the news media than churches, with 40 percent saying churches are good for the country and 51 percent saying the same of the media. Three-quarters of conservative Republicans, 68 percent of moderate Republicans, and 58 percent of conservative Democrats have positive feelings toward the church.

Public outlooks of the church, including partisan differences, have changed little in recent years, Pew says.

Those who attend church at least weekly have more positive views (75 percent positive) than infrequent churchgoers (66 percent positive) or non-attenders. Just 34 percent of the religiously unaffiliated believe churches have a positive impact on the country, and 46 percent say the impact is negative.

Perspectives on the church also differ by education level; majorities of Americans with a four-year college degree or less hold positive views, compared to 48 percent of those with postgraduate degrees.
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