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Analysis of a mostly Christian Congress

Analysis of a mostly Christian Congress

The Pew Research Center has been taking a census of religion on the Hill as the 115th Congress gets down to business, and it finds that while Christianity has been declining among the general population, our elected representatives are still 90% Christian.

Among the 293 Republicans elected to serve in the new, 115th Congress, all but two identify as Christians; there are two Jewish Republicans – Lee Zeldin of New York and David Kustoff of Tennessee – who both serve in the House. Democrats in Congress also are overwhelmingly Christian (80%), but there is more religious diversity on this side of the aisle. The 242 Democrats in Congress include 28 Jews, three Buddhists, three Hindus, two Muslims and one Unitarian Universalist – as well as the only member of Congress to describe herself as religiously unaffiliated, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz. In addition, all 10 members of Congress who decline to state their religious affiliation are Democrats.

Sinema is the only representative aligned with the 23% of adult Americans who now claim no religious affiliation (although the numbers also show 8 members for whom no answer was available). The religious makeup of the 115th Congress

Pew found that the incoming freshman class helped to raise the religious diversity of the Congress – but did not have the numbers to make a huge difference.

The new, 115th Congress has the smallest freshman class of any Congress in the last 10 years – 62 new members will be joining 473 incumbents.

Of the new members, half are Protestant and roughly a third are Catholic.

Additionally, 13% of freshmen are members of non-Christian faiths, nearly double the share of incumbents who are not members of a Christian faith.

Episcopalians/Anglicans account for 6.5% of the 115th Congress, and 3.2% of the incoming class. We make up 1% of the general US population, according to the Pew numbers.

Read more numbers and analysis here.

Featured image: new members of Congress gather for a photo in November 2016; still from CSpan

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Paul Woodrum

But in Congress, the snake handlers are.

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Jay Croft

Very true, Paul Woodrum!

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Paul Woodrum

Mr. Croft: If it's largely Christians pushing this anti-poor, pro-rich agenda, it doesn't say much for the churches from whence they come. My premonition is more and more people are seeing the hypocrisy of it all.

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Jay Croft

I hope that folks see the hypocrisy and work to overcome it.

We need to keep in mind that "Christian" may mean anything from a cloistered monastic to a snake-handling cult member, and anything in between.

The Fundamentalists are not the only game in town!

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William (Bill) Paul

And, how many in each group are 'nominal" Baptists, Catholics, etc., . How many are regular participants in a church? How many have been in some significant sense formed by their church? Inquiring minds want to know, especially if one wants draw a non-trivial (in the logican sense) conclusion from this. For me, meh is the first word that comes to mind. (The second thought that comes to mind "I sense the dubious presumption in the reporting on it that someone of denomination x, y, or z cannot be 'representative' of other of different denominations, religion, or no religion at all.'. And that leads me back to...meh).

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Paul Woodrum

With such a preponderance of Christians, it's sad to note that this Congress is so eager to encourage early death among the poor by taking away their recently gained health benefits, to further enrich the wealthy through deep tax cuts, to create ever larger deficits to burden future generations, and to put profits for a few ahead of environmental protection. With policies like these, it is no wonder so many are turning away from the churches.

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Jay Croft

I don't follow your reasoning, Mr. Woodrum. What does the conservative agenda you list have to do with "so many are turning away from the churches?"

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Marshall Scott

Bruce, Christopher: I see your point. I do note that the Pew article does say 1%; and as we know, that may represent old numbers, or (just as likely) 1% of the respondents to the survey. It also states Anglican/Episcopal, and so could include members of ACNA and smaller continuing Anglican bodies.

I don't know that we've had clear correlation for some time between adult communicants in good standing, baptized members, and average Sunday attendance - much less actual total Sunday attendance. Notwithstanding all of that, I don't know that anyone has claimed recently that the Episcopal Church included 3,000,000 members.

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