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How the New Congress Looks Based on Their Faith

01-05-2017
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Christians make up a big part of the U.S. Congress today.

According to a new report  from the Pew Research Center, the number of believers in Congress in 2017 rival the number serving back in the 60s. 

In 1961, 94.9 percent of those in Congress identified as Christian compared to 90.7 percent today.

CBN News spoke with Aleksandra Sandstrom, the report's lead author, about the findings.

"That's 485 people," said Sandstrom.  

She explained, "We're seeing about a 4 point difference in this Congress compared to the Congress in 1961, 62."

In today's 115th Congress, of the 293 Republicans, only two identify as non-Christian (Lee Zeldin of New York and David Kustoff of Tennessee are both Jewish).

About 80 percent of congressional Democrats identify as Christian.

The breakdown along denominational lines among Christians in Congress includes 55 percent Protestant while 31.4 percent belong to the Catholic faith.

Seventy-two members identify as Baptists while 44 members see themselves as Methodists.

The study also found that some religious groups, including Protestants, Catholics and Jews, have greater representation in Congress than in the general population. 

For example, Jews make up 2 percent of the U.S. adult population but account for 6 percent of Congress.  The make-up of Mormons, Muslims, Buddhists, and Orthodox Christians in Congress is pretty much the same as in the U.S. public. 

Meanwhile, Pew noted the most underrepresented group in the study is the religious "nones," which account for 23 percent of the general public but just 0.2 percent among members in Congress.

"That's a very striking difference," noted Sandstrom.

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., is the only unaffiliated member of Congress.

Sandstrom pointed out that Sinema's lack of religious affiliation doesn't make her non-religious. 

"It doesn't mean she's atheist or agostic," she said.

She commented that previous research shows that members of Congress with no religious affiliation are rare.

"There really has not been much in Congress who are not religiously affiliated," said Sandstrom.

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