June 24, 2005

Who or What Does the Public Trust?

I read a recent report regarding issues of trust by the American public at large. Some of what I read was quite surprising.
28% of the population trusts the nations newspapers which is down from 37% in the year 2000 and 24% of the population has “very little” confidence. Honestly with everything that goes on with shoddy, inaccurate, fictitious reporting, I am surprised that the percentage of people who still have any trust in the papers is as high as it is.
What really surprised me though were the top three organizations for public trust. The military came in at number one at 74%, which blew me away. This gives insight to the previous stats concerning trust in print media. If you believe the newspapers, the military is made up of a bunch of lying, low-lifes who get their jollies oppressing, torturing and killing innocent people. That was a nice surprise.
In second place fell the police at 63% which also surprised me a bit but also in a good way. One thing is for certain, our police don’t do what they do for the pay.
Third place was the biggest surprise of all. The statistics are not impressive. In fact, they are rather discouraging because while organized religion takes the third spot, it came in with only 53% of the population’s trust.
That means essentially half of the population doesn’t trust organized religion. That includes most of us. Now I can try and tell myself that the reason for the distrust is due to past scandals, and televangelists who still sell a very warped message of prosperity in exchange for a contribution to their ministry. But the fact remains; those impressions affect all of us. Which means we have to be mindful of those biases when people walk into our churches for the first time. We have a one shot opportunity to make a good first impression.
Is your church obsessed with money and a constant haranguing about the offertory? I have been in churches where three separate offerings were taken. I tell you, even as a mature Christian I was uncomfortable what does it say to the visitors? And if I may be so bold, if you don’t have any visitors, maybe that’s part of the reason. Hey, just a thought.


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