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Congress still overwhelmingly identifies as Christian

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Religiously unaffiliated are underrepresented

Photo: Members of the 115th U.S. Congress take their oath of office, Jan. 3, 2016. Win McNamee, Getty Images.

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 per cent of incoming members of Congress describe themselves as Christian, according to an analysis of the 115th Congress by the Pew Research Center.

About 67 per cent of Republicans in Congress are Protestant, while 27 per cent are Catholic. Among Democrats, 42 per cent are Protestant and 37 per cent are Catholic.

Only about 21 per cent of Americans as a whole identify as Catholic, while 71 per cent of Americans identify as Christian, according to the centre.

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 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 per cent of Americans are religiously unaffiliated, they make up only 0.2 per cent of Congress.

In the 87th Congress, which met from 1961 to 1962, 95 per cent of members identified as Christian. That body was 75 per cent Protestant and only 19 per cent Catholic. In the new Congress, 56 per cent of members are Protestant and 31 per cent Catholic.

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 January 2017 09:50  

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