Survey: New Congress dominated by Christians

Survey: New Congress dominated by Christians
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A strong majority of members in the new Congress identify as Christians, even as the number of Americans who practice the faith nationwide has been on the decline for decades, according to a new study.

A Pew Research Center survey of the 115th Congress — which will be sworn in on Tuesday — found that 91 percent of members call themselves Christians. That’s well above the national average, according to Pew, which found that 70 percent of Americans nationwide are Christians.

Other recent surveys have put the number of practicing Christians nationwide at closer to 75 or 80 percent.

The number of Christians in the new Congress is essentially unchanged from the 87th Congress, which was sworn in in 1961. Ninety-five percent of its members were Christians.

While the number of Christians in Congress overall has remained fairly steady, the number of Protestants — practicing Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians and Lutherans — has declined from 75 percent in 1961 to only 56 percent presently.

The number of Catholics in Congress, meanwhile, has gone from 19 percent to 31 percent during that time.

Of the 293 Republican members in the House and Senate, 291 are Christians. The remaining two — Reps. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) and David Kustoff (R-Tenn.) — are Jewish.

The Democratic side is also overwhelmingly Christian, at 80 percent. But of the 242 Democrats in both chambers, there are also 28 Jews, three Buddhists, three Hindus, two Muslims, one Unitarian Universalist and one representative — Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) — who is religiously unaffiliated. 

As the lone religious “none” in Congress, Sinema represents a growing group of Americans who are underrepresented on Capitol Hill.

The Pew study found that 22.8 percent of Americans identify as unaffiliated religious “nones.”

In addition, the 10 members who declined to state their religious affiliation are all Democrats.