Pew details religious make-up of new U.S. Congress
Pew found overall that the new Congress is in many ways a reflection of America’s religious demographic make up, at least when compared to the results of its own massive Religious Landscape survey released earlier last year.
For example, it found that Protestants comprised about 54 percent of the incoming members compared to about 51 percent of the adult population overall.
But there was one significant departure between Congress and the nation as a whole: in a country where religion and politics often mix, the politicians were far less likely than the general population to openly admit to no spiritual affiliation.
“Only five members of the new Congress (about one percent) did not specify a religious affiliation, according to information gathered by Congressional Quarterly and the Pew Forum, and no members specifically said they were unaffiliated. By contrast, the Landscape Survey found that individuals who are not affiliated with a particular faith make up about one-sixth (16.1 percent) of the adult population, making this one of the largest ‘religious’ groups in the United States,” Pew said.
Pew also found that a few faith groups were overrepresented and some under-represented.
“Jews, who account for just 1.7 percent of the U.S. adult population, make up 8.4 percent of Congress, including just over 13 percent of the Senate,” it said.
Baptists by contrast claim about 12 percent of the members of Congress but comprise about 17 percent of the overall U.S. population.
The new congress will also have two Buddhists and new Muslim members.
(Photo Credit: The U.S. Capitol at Christmas. REUTERS/Molly Riley, Dec 24, 2008, USA)