Thursday, January 20, 2011

Religious Makeup of Congress

While the 2010 midterm elections did give the Republicans control of the U.S. House of Representatives, it had little effect on the religious composition of Congress, which continues to be similar to the previous Congress and to the general population as well. 

An analysis by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life® shows that the current Congress, and also the nation, is over 50 percent Protestant, and about 25 percent Catholic. For example, of the 535 members of Congress, 56.8 percent (304) are Protestant, and 51.3 percent of all American adults are Protestant. The 156 members who are Catholic represent 29.2 percent of Congress, while 23.9 percent of the general population are Catholic. Of the 304 members who are protestant, 231 fall within just five general groupings, those being Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Anglican/Episcopal and Lutheran.
The report also pointed out that in a few cases, the religious composition of Congress did not match the makeup of the general population. For example:
  • Only 1.5 percent of Americans are Anglican/Episcopal while 7.7 percent of the members of Congress are part of that faith.
  • There are no members of Congress who are Pentecostal while 4.4 percent of the population are part of the Pentecostal tradition.
  • Jewish members of Congress count for 7.3 percent of the members while only 1.7 percent of Americans are Jewish.
  • While there are no members of Congress who describe their religion as unaffiliated (atheist, agnostic or "nothing in particular"), about one-sixth of U.S. adults (16%) report they are not affiliated with any particular faith.
For the complete report go to The Pew Forum.

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