Washington D.C., Jan 4, 2017 / 07:38 pm (CNA).- While the number of Americans who describe themselves as Christians has declined in recent years, more than 9 in 10 members of Congress profess to be adherents of the faith.
A strong 91 percent of incoming Members of Congress describe themselves as Christian, an analysis of the 115th Congress has said. About 67 percent of Republicans in Congress are Protestant, while 27 percent are Catholic. Among Democrats, 42 percent are Protestant and 37 percent are Catholic. The Pew Research Center analyzed religious self-identification in Congress using data from CQ Roll Call and compared it to its own studies of American religious self-identification.
Only about 21 percent of Americans as a whole identify as Catholic, while 71 percent of Americans identify as Christian, according to the Pew Research Center. Among Protestant Members of Congress, Baptists had the largest denominational representation, numbering 72. They were followed by Methodist, Anglican/Episcopal, Presbyterian and Lutheran. Only two of the 293 Republicans in the new Congress are non-Christian, both of them being Jewish. Of the 242 Democrats, 28 are Jewish, three Buddhist, three Hindu, two Muslim, and one Unitarian Universalist. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) is the only Member of Congress to self-describe as religiously unaffiliated, while 10 Democrats declined to state any religious affiliation.
The religiously unaffiliated are the most underrepresented in Congress. While the Pew Research Center says about 23 percent of Americans are religiously unaffiliated, they make up only 0.2 percent of Congress. In the 87th Congress, which met from 1961 to 1962, 95 percent of members identified as Christian. That body was 75 percent Protestant and only 19 percent Catholic. In the new Congress, 56 percent of members are Protestant and 31 percent Catholic.