Honesty and Ethics Poll

The 2008 Gallup Annual Honesty and Ethics Poll has been released and once again nurses are given the highest rating by Americans for honesty and ethics – 84% of Americans give nurses the highest ratings for honesty and ethics.   This is the seventh year in a row that nurses occupied that top spot.  In general the medical profession ranks high in American esteem with pharmacists and doctors rated 2nd and 4th respectively.  The only non-medical profession in the top four are high school teachers ranked at number three. 

My profession, clergy was ranked 6th for honesty and integrity.  56% of Americans consider clergy to be of high integrity.  While such a percentage would be enough to win a presidential election, it has to be troubling for a profession whose purpose and message is based in faith, trust, trustworthiness, and integrity.  One-third of Americans see clergy as just of average honesty and integrity – sad for a profession that is supposed to lead by example in moral living.    More embarrassing is that the same percentage – 1/3 of Americans – also see telemarketers as being of average honesty and ethics.  

Interestingly clergy rank almost identically with the police.  So do Americans see clergy not as moral examples but rather as enforcers of the law?  We are not priests or pastors but police in the eyes of many?!?

The same percentage of Americans ranks clergy as very low in honesty and ethics (8-9%) as rank police, funeral directors, and accountants.  About one in every 10-11 Americans think of clergy as being dishonesty and untrustworthy.

Clergy perhaps will get some consolation from the fact that Americans have a higher opinion of clergy than congressmen by almost 5 to 1 (56% to 12%).  So clergy are seen as a better moral compass than politicians.

The study also gives us some idea as to why the scandal in the OCA was so devastating to so many people – a group of men whom 89% of Americans see as average or above average in terms of ethics failed them completely.  The broken trust of church leadership is not taken lightly because people expect them to be at least as honest as the average American.

2 thoughts on “Honesty and Ethics Poll

  1. Back in 1966 I went to study theology in Britain, but the British academic year only started in September, so I applied for a job driving buses with London Transport to fill in the time and keep body and soul together. They wanted three references, but when I gave clergy, who were they only people in Britain I knew and who knew me, they would not accept them. “Anyone but the church,” they told me.

    So in the end I gave them the names of my university lecturers back in South Africa. They did not trust clergy at all.

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