February 2019 Church & State Magazine | AU Bulletin

Religious diversity in the new Congress has crept upward slightly but still fails to reflect trends in American society, a new study shows.

The Pew Research Center, analyzing data provided by Congressional Quarterly, reported that the 116th Congress is 88 percent Christian, down three points from the last Congress. The general U.S. population is about 71 percent Christian.

Wrote Pew, “While the number of self-identified Christians in Congress has ticked down, Christians as a whole – and especially Protestants and Catholics – are still overrepresented in proportion to their share in the general public. Indeed, the religious makeup of the new, 116th Congress is very different from that of the United States population.”

Added Pew, “But by far the largest difference between the U.S. public and Congress is in the share who are unaffiliated with a religious group. In the general public, 23% say they are atheist, agnostic or ‘nothing in particular.’ In Congress, just one person – Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., who was recently elected to the Senate after three terms in the House – says she is religiously unaffiliated, making the share of ‘nones’ in Congress 0.2%.”

Religious affiliations in the new Congress break down like this: Protestant, 293; Roman Catholic, 163; Jewish, 34; Don’t know/refused, 18; Mormon, 10; Orthodox Christian, 5; Muslim, 3; Hindu, 3; Buddhist, 2, Unitarian Universalist, 2; Unaffiliated, 1. (At the time the survey was taken, a House seat in North Carolina remained open.)

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