A recent survey found that approximately nine in 10 members in the incoming United States Congress proclaim themselves to be Christian.
According to the latest findings published by the Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life division, Christians form the overwhelming majority of the 115th Congress, as 90.7 percent of them identify themselves as Christians.
Congress keeping the faith …
This number, however, has not fluctuated much over the years, as Pew reports that comparing the figures with those of five decades ago, today’s percentage is not that far off.
"The share of U.S. adults who describe themselves as Christians has been declining for decades, but the U.S. Congress is about as Christian today as it was in the early 1960s," Pew researchers reported.
"Ninety-one percent describe themselves as Christians,” the research group revealed. “This is nearly the same percentage as in the 87th Congress – 1961 to 1962, the earliest years for which comparable data are available – when 95 percent of members were Christian."
Breaking the numbers down, it was found that Catholics are the most prevalent, making up about one-third of the Christians in Congress.
”Of the 91 percent Christian majority, 31.4 percent are Catholic, 13.5 percent are Baptist, 8.5 percent are Methodist, 6.5 percent are Anglican or Episcopal, and another 6.5 percent are Presbyterian,” The Christian Post revealed from the survey. “This layout reflects the general population's majorities, as the three largest religious denominations in the United States are Roman Catholic, Southern Baptist and United Methodist.”
Even though both the Republicans and Democrats in Congress are overwhelmingly Christian, this trend is much more prevalent in the conservative party.
"Among the 293 Republicans elected to serve in the new, 115th Congress, all but two identify as Christians; there are two Jewish Republicans – Lee Zeldin of New York and David Kustoff of Tennessee – who both serve in the House," the research group announced.
Democrats in Congress, on the other hand, are much more diverse when it comes to members’ religious affiliations.
"The 242 Democrats in Congress include 28 Jews, three Buddhists, three Hindus, two Muslims and one Unitarian Universalist – as well as the only member of Congress to describe herself as religiously unaffiliated, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, (D-Ariz.),” Pew informed. “In addition, all 10 members of Congress who decline to state their religious affiliation are Democrats."
Even though adherents to Christianity are a tad bit less than they were two year ago -- when the 114th Congress was 91.8 percent Christian, compared to 90.7 percent in this year’s 115th Congress – both proportions are still much greater than America’s general population, which was less than three-quarters (73 percent) Christian back in January 2015.
Ensuing faithless trend?
A significant proportion of Americans (one-fifth) does not ascribe to any religion, but virtually no one in Congress refuses to identify themselves with any faith.
"As was the case in the 113th Congress, the biggest difference between Congress and the general public is in the share of those who say they are religiously unaffiliated," Pew indicated in 2015. "This group makes up 20 percent of the general public but just 0.2% of Congress. The only member of Congress who describes herself as religiously unaffiliated is Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz."
It is argued that even though only one Congress member self-identifies as unaffiliated, there are actually more.
Hement Mehta, who writes for the Patheos blog and dubs himself “The Friendly Atheist,” insists that the number of non-theist members in Congress is actually larger than what is indicated.
"There's very little doubt in my mind that there are more Unaffiliated, non-religious Americans in Congress, but they dare not say so because it would be political suicide where they come from," Mehta claimed two years ago in January 2015. "In the past several years, that pressure to stay in the closet has been strong ... but not everywhere in the country. Maybe we'll soon see more candidates at least not declaring a religious affiliation -- even if they don't say 'Unaffiliated.’"