Whether or not they voted for him, most Americans likely will not view Donald Trump as the solution to the nation’s problems once in office.
And pastors enjoy even less confidence than presidents as the potential solution to the country’s woes, LifeWay Research discovered in polling conducted in the closing months of 2016.
But with the inauguration just a couple days away, the organizations’ findings on confidence in leadership seems especially pertinent.
The survey asked people from a number of ethnic, age and religious groups to answer this question: “In America today, who is in the best position to generate a healthy conversation on challenges facing our society?”
The results show that less than a quarter of the adult population believes presidents are in the best position to spark those “healthy conversations,” LifeWay said in the report titled “American Views on Healthy Conversations Regarding Challenges Facing Society.”
Pastors came in second, but still low, overall. Only 11 percent of those surveyed said ministers are best suited to generate those conversations, LifeWay said.
University professors were close behind at 10 percent, followed by members of the media at 8 percent, business leaders at 7 percent and members of Congress at 6 percent.
Professional athletes and musicians tied at 1 percent.
The group getting the largest total share of confidence, at 33 percent, was “None of these,” LifeWay found.
But the Nashville-based organization found interesting differences along religious, ethnic and educational lines.
For instance, those who live in the South, at 25 percent, were much more likely to see the elected president as capable of generating healthy conversations about the nation’s challenges. That’s compared to 18 percent of Midwesterners.
There were differences by age, too.
LifeWay said 32 percent of Americans age 65 or older selected “Our elected President” when surveyed. But 18 percent of those 18-24, and 14 percent of those 35-44, instead selected “Professors at universities.”
Younger people also were more likely to select “Members of the media.” Twelve percent of Americans 18-24 did so, as did 13 percent of those 25-34, LifeWay found.
Pastors, who trailed presidents in the overall polling, fared much better among some ethnic and religious groups.
Black, non-Hispanics are the most likely ethnic group to select “Pastors of local churches” and the president, at 21 and 37 percent, respectively.
Christians, at 16 percent, are most likely to select pastors as the most capable of inspiring needed conversations. Only 1 percent of those of other religions, and 2 percent of the non-religious, agreed.
LifeWay found that there were differences, also, between different kinds of Christians.
Protestants, at 23 percent, were more likely to select pastors in the survey than Catholics, at 7 percent.
And evangelicals led the way in choosing pastors at 36 percent, compared to non-evangelicals at 7 percent, LifeWay reported.
The organization conducted its survey of 1,000 Americans before the presidential election in November.
Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research, noted the lack of confidence Americans have in entertainers and athletes.
“Musicians or athletes get a great deal of attention for their public statements about the issues,” McConnell said in an article published on lifewayresearch.com. “But few Americans seem to look to them as thought leaders.”