Incoming Congress Has A Bigger Christian Majority Than The American Public

Kerry Wise
January 5, 2017

Overall, the "Christian" affiliation has remained about the same for the past fifty years, though there has been a shift from Protestant to Roman Catholic.

Christians, both Protestant and Catholic, aren't the only demographic to outstrip the general population in Congress.

Christians make up a big part of the U.S. Congress today.

Though Christianity is the basic faith of most Congress members, not all follow the same sect.

The data on the religious makeup of the current senators and representatives was collected by Pew Research Center and announced January 3.

The U.S. Congress taking office on Tuesday remains nearly as overwhelmingly Christian as it was in the 1960s even while the share of American adults who call themselves Christians has dropped, according to Pew Research Center analysis. Today, 56 percent are Protestant. The big difference is that in 1961, 75 percent of those Christians claimed some sort of Protestant affiliation, while only 19 percent were Catholic.

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Apart from two Jewish Republicans, all other non-Christian members of Congress are Democrats.

Surprisingly the disparity is less stark in the Democratic Party, where 37% of members identify as Catholics and 42% identify as Protestants. And apart from Jewish Republicans Lee Zeldin of NY and David Kustoff of Tennessee, all other non-Christian members of Congress are Democrats, including newly-elected Hindu representatives Ro Khanna, D-Calif. and Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill. About 72 people identify as Baptists (a division of Protestantism) and 44 see themselves as Methodists, according to Pew.

The election of Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, the Democrat from Hawaii, brought the number of Buddhists in Congress from two to three.

The new legislative group also has the smallest freshman class of any Congress in the past 10 years with 62 new members joining the 473 returnees.

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., is the only member of Congress to describe herself as religiously unaffiliated.

The number of Protestants has been steadily declining, reflecting the general decline of the U.S. Protestant population, while Catholics - after a steady surge- now comprise more than 31% of Congress.