Tom Garrity

The Garrity Perception Survey 2018: Religion

In Reputation on November 28, 2018 at 3:13 pm

Screen Shot 2018-11-23 at 1.31.50 PMFaith and religion are intertwined with New Mexico history and who we are as a society.

Generally, more than 70 percent of New Mexico residents place a high value of faith in their personal life.  Their favorability of religious institutions and trust of religious leaders isn’t far behind.

Sixty five percent of New Mexico residents, on average, have a favorable view of religious institutions.  Sixty one percent of residents, on average, have a favorable view of religious leaders.

However, drilling down into the numbers shows the impacts that scandal can have on perceptions of any industry.

Screen Shot 2018-11-23 at 1.32.43 PMIn 2013 and 2014, lawsuits against the Catholic Church, alleging abuse by several priests against parishioners, were in the headlines.  The New Mexico lawsuits were filed in 2013 and were reflected, in part, when the 2014 survey was in the field in February/March of that year.

The lowest levels of trust and favorability of religious leaders and institutions were seen in the 2013 and 2014 surveys.  When news started to hit, Statewide trust of religious leaders dropped ten percent and favorability of religious institutions dropped eight percent.

The negative hit was most evident among resident’s trust of priests in areas where there is a high level of catholic residents. Specifically, trust of religious leaders went from a high of 74 percent in 2013 to a low of 41 percent in 2015, a drop of 33 percent over the course of the year.  Trust of religious leaders in that region has still not recovered and trust among North Central residents remains the lowest in the state (an average of 58 percent).

Conversely, areas with high level of protestant membership (Northwest and Eastern New Mexico) saw increases in trust of their religious leaders during that time.  In fact, residents in Northwest New Mexico saw an eleven percent increase in trust from 2013 to 2014.

Paralleling legal settlements was an aggressive effort by the Catholic Church to own the narrative of showing compassion to the victims.  This resulted in a gradual increase of trust and favorability for all pastors and priests as well as churches.

Screen Shot 2018-11-23 at 1.32.23 PMMore information and analysis of this information is available online at www.garrityperceptionsurvey.com.

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