Politics

7 ways religious affiliation will (and won’t) change in the new Congress

The dome of the Capitol in Washington D.C., taken from the Congressional Office Buildings on Constitution Ave.
"The Religious Makeup of the 114th Congress," graphic courtesy of Pew Research Center.

“The Religious Makeup of the 114th Congress,” graphic courtesy of Pew Research Center.

(RNS) Republicans will take full control of Capitol Hill when the 114th Congress is sworn in on Tuesday (Jan. 6), but even with a political shift, there will be little change in the overall religious makeup of Congress, according to a new analysis from the Pew Research Center.

Here are seven ways the religious makeup of Congress will (and won’t) change.

1) More than nine-in-10 members of the House and Senate (92 percent) are Christian; about 57 percent are Protestant while 31 percent are Catholic. The new Congress will include at least seven members who are ordained ministers.

2) Protestants and Catholics continue to be overrepresented as members of Congress. As of 2013, 49 percent of American adults are Protestant, and 22 percent are Catholic, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis.

3) The biggest difference between Congress and other Americans is the number of people who say they are religiously unaffiliated. Just 0.2 percent of Congress say they are religiously unaffiliated, compared with 20 percent of the general public. In fact, the only member of Congress who publicly identifies herself as religiously unaffiliated is sophomore Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.

4) Jews continue to have greater representation in Congress (5 percent) than most Americans (2 percent), but there are five fewer Jewish members in the incoming Congress than there were in 2005-2006. Of the 301 GOP House and Senate members scheduled to be sworn in on Tuesday, only one — Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York’s 1st District — is a Jew. The 113th Congress also had just one Jewish Republican, former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., who lost his primary race last year.

5) Many of the nation’s smaller religious groups are more proportionally reflective of the American population. Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus combined represent about 2 percent of Americans and 1 percent of Congress.

6) Two-thirds of the Republicans in the incoming Congress (67 percent) are Protestant, about a quarter are Catholic (27 percent) and 5 percent are Mormon.

7) Of the 234 Democrats in the 114th Congress, 44 percent are Protestant, 35 percent are Catholic, 12 percent are Jewish, 1 percent are Mormon, two are Buddhist, two are Muslim, one is Hindu and one does not identify with a particular religion.

KRE/AMB END BAILEY

About the author

Sarah Pulliam Bailey

Sarah Pulliam Bailey is a national correspondent for RNS, covering how faith intersects with politics, culture and other news. She previously served as online editor for Christianity Today where she remains an editor-at-large.

14 Comments

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  • We need to follow the Truth/the Bible/the Word of God so if people don’t teach
    and preach/follow the Truth they still go to hell even if they go to church cause
    Jesus said you are one of Mine only if you follow Me/continue in My teachings!
    Hell is real and the Bible is very clear the Trinity/Godhead are real so if people
    don’t preach the Truth/follow the Bible they are not one of His! Jesus said that
    many will say to Me Lord,Lord and not enter heaven because so many people
    don’t Repent/follow Him they only want to go to heaven which like most of the
    people today. Most today don’t want to Repent they just want to go to heaven
    which is why so many people still get drunk,be mean/don’t bridle their tongue.
    It’s shocking how many people in church don’t bridle their sharp tongue and
    think that they are going to heaven. Bible says if you have a sharp tongue
    your religion is worthless! Many are now saying something mean and then
    laughing after like that makes it okay or they say “I was just joking” to try to
    cover it up. It’s the same with premarital sex. People sleep around and then
    they get married thinkin that they covered it up but never Repent and agree
    that sleeping around/having premarital sex is wrong! We all must Repent!

  • Karla, like, I could write a computer program for you if you want that just copy/pastes your omnipresent rant on every new religionnews article if you want. It’d probably save you a lot of time that you could spend reading the articles rather than haunting the comments section.

  • Salek Atesh-Thank you for the feedback. All sin needs to be talked about not
    just gay marriage and abortion..so I hope some of these other sins get talked
    about which is why I preach on/about them because so many today only want
    to talk about gay marriage or abortion so they don’t have to face their own sin.
    Bible says Repent and believe the Gospel to be saved. We all must Repent!

  • God wrote the bible because the bible sez so because god wrote the bible because the bible sez so becaue god wrote the bible because god said so because go… ad nauseum.

  • Eric Cantor, the former highest ranking Jewish Republican in the US Congress has been replaced by Steve Scalise who has called himself, “David Duke without the baggage.”

  • It makes no difference what changes Congress makes since all of man’s governments, including our own, will soon be replaced by God’s kingdom or government (Daniel 2:44), which was established in the heavens in 1914.

    The last world power before the end of this wIcked era is the present Anglo-American world powers (UK/US). Those world powers, represented by the toes of clay and iron in the image Daniel saw (Daniel 2:41-43), are definitely in their last days!

    I can hardly wait for God’s kingdom or heavenly government to come and finally rule with love, righteousness and justice over us humans on earth (Isaiah 11:1-9)!!

  • Generally in survey speak, that translates into “Don’t Know” and/or “Refused”, meaning there was not an answer attained in the survey.

  • Fran,

    Jesus said that the ‘Kingdom of God is within you’. I think that to realize this is to ‘already’ experience His love, righteousness and justice in our life.

    It’s a neat personal experience that’s available ‘now’……why wait.

  • Billysees,

    As foretold by Daniel 2:44, God’s kingdom or government will put an end to ALL human governments and replace them. In other words, the end of man ruling over man to his detriment. YEAH!!!

  • Billy sees,

    I am completing my post now since it did not take completely the last time!

    When Jesus told the Jews that the kingdom was within them, or as some Bible translations put it as “in their midst,” they did not realize that the future King of God’s government would be Jesus himself, sitting at the right hand of God.

    I am not a part of God’s kingdom (144,000 spirit-anointed/born again Christians). However, I NOW consider myself a loyal and devoted earthly subject of that kingdom (and not to man’s governments) as well as in the near future, during its millenial rule.

  • Fran,

    The ‘details’ of each of our varying beliefs are not easy to follow.

    So, I guess that we can all appreciate at least the following, as the great prayer says, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”.

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