By Aaron Earls
Most church attendees trust their clergy and say they have a close relationship with them, but some Christian traditions are more likely than others.
A recent Pew Research survey found among those who attend religious services at least a few times a year, Protestants have a better relationship with and are more accepting of advice from their pastors than Catholics and their priests.
Among those at least occasional church attendees, Catholics 61% say they have at least somewhat of a close relationship, while just 8% saying they have a very close relationship.
Almost 2 in 5 (39%) say they don’t have a close relationship.
Among Protestants, 78% say they have at least somewhat of a close relationship with their local clergy, including 25% who say they have a very close relationship.
For 22% of Protestants the relationship is not close at all.
Within Protestantism, evangelicals and historically black Protestants have closer relationships on average with their clergy than mainline Protestants.
Four in 5 black Protestants (81%) and evangelicals (80%) say they have at least a somewhat close relationship with their pastor, compared to 71% of those at mainline churches.
Perhaps because of their closer relationship, Protestants are more likely to say they have confidence in their clergy to provide useful guidance in every area Pew asked about.
More than 3 in 4 Protestants (77%) say they have a lot of confidence in the advice their pastors give about growing closer to God, compared to 60% of Catholics.
Evangelicals, in particular, tend to place significant confidence in guidance from their pastor.
Evangelical church attenders are more likely than mainline, historically black church, or Catholic congregants to say they have a lot of confidence in their pastor’s thoughts on virtually every issue Pew Research asked about.
Specifically, a majority of evangelicals say they place a lot of confidence in their pastor’s guidance on growing closer to God (82%), interpreting Scripture (77%), marriage and relationships (66%), parenting (56%), and abortion (57%).
Similar to Catholics, only in two areas do a majority of mainline Protestants say they have a lot of confidence in the guidance of their pastor—growing closer to God (71%) and interpreting Scripture (58%).
AARON EARLS (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.