Churches, Religious Groups Most Highly Regarded Institutions

Churches and religious groups also had the lowest percentage of negative views at 26 percent, the report said.

Churches and religious organizations are the most highly regarded among U.S. institutions, according to the Pew Research Center.

Fifty-nine percent of U.S. adults hold a positive view of faith-based institutions.

This is 4 percentage points higher than positive views of colleges and universities, 12 points above labor unions, 20 points higher than banks and other financial institutions, and 31 points above the national news media.

Churches and religious groups also had the lowest percentage of negative views at 26 percent, followed by labor unions (32 percent), colleges and universities (36 percent), banks and other financial institutions (46 percent), and the national news media (63 percent).

Political affiliation and education level both impacted views of faith-based groups.

Republicans (73 percent positive) are more affirming of faith-based groups than Democrats (50 percent).

"Democrats are more ideologically divided than are Republicans over the effect of churches and religious organizations," the report noted.

"Liberal Democrats are about as likely to say the impact of churches and religious organizations is negative (44 percent) as they are to say it is positive (40 percent)," Pew explained. "By two to one (58 percent to 29 percent), more conservative and moderate Democrats say churches have a positive than negative effect on the country."

The report added, "Majorities of both conservative Republicans and Republican leaners (75 percent) and moderate and liberal Republicans (68 percent) say churches and religious organizations have a positive impact."

Sixty-three percent of U.S. adults with a high school diploma or less said "churches and other religious institutions have a positive effect on the way things are going in the country."

By comparison, 60 percent of respondents with some college, 57 percent of college graduates and 47 percent of post-graduate degree holders affirmed this position.

The full report is available here .

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