(Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Why did Trump win? The same reason the Catholic Church is losing followers.




Donald Trump stunned the political and media establishment on Tuesday night by defeating Hillary Clinton. But news that the outsider ousted the ultimate political insider shouldn’t come as a huge surprise.

According to exit polls, nearly 7 in 10 voters were unhappy with the way government is working. And anger seemed to be driving the backlash against career politicians in both parties in 2016.

It’s the same anger that drove British voters to reject the European Union earlier this year against the advice of politicians and business leaders alike. Simply put, people are just fed up with the establishment and don’t trust them.



In the past few decades, we’ve seen a dramatic decline in the number of people who trust institutions that were once more respected.

Gallup surveys have found that institutions across the board — including Congress, the Supreme Court, banks, public schools, newspapers, the presidency, and organized religion — have seen a steady decline in public confidence.

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As conventional politicians have gotten less popular, so has conventional religion.

As a result, we’re seeing a lot of young people who identify as “none” when asked about religion. These folks aren’t necessarily non-believers. Many would consider themselves to be “spiritual, not religious.” But we’re seeing a widespread rejection of organized religion across the landscape.

And with the Catholic Church being one of the oldest institutions on the planet, it’s uniquely positioned to be distrusted if these survey results are to be believed.

Like the Clintons’ insular political network, the Vatican is full of intrigue and has seen its fair share of scandal and political maneuvering (think Vatileaks and the subsequent criminal trials.) And make no mistake, people do get disenchanted and leave the Church over scandal (a Pew survey earlier this year detailed the many reasons people walk away from religion.)

While it’s not a perfect comparison, it’s clear that established institutions across the globe are facing record levels of distrust. So for all practical purposes, the Catholic Church is facing the same problem as Washington: How do you get people to trust you again?

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