Faith

The New Congress Is Overwhelmingly Christian

Over 99 percent of Republicans define themselves as such — and other key faith findings for 115th Congress

The American people resoundingly voted for change in 2016 — and the House and Senate both will be ruled by a Republican majority. As many Americans wonder what will happen within the government after such a historic election cycle, a new poll from Pew Research Center reveals the religious makeup of the 115th Congress.

This cycle, an impressive 90.7 percent of our congressional representation identifies as Christian. These numbers are high, and a little more than directly proportional to the number of Christians in America — roughly 70 percent of the population defines itself as Christian.

Democrats are reportedly 80.2 percent Christian but Republicans are a whopping 99.3 percent.

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Of the 90.7 percent of Congress, 55.9 percent identify as some form of Protestant. The highest percentage of Protestants within Congress are Baptist at 13.5 percent; the next highest is Methodist, at 8.2 percent. Mormons and Orthodox Christians make up the other 3.3 percent accounted for within this Protestant majority.

Catholics also hold a steady hand within this majority, at 31.4 percent of the Congress.

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Here’s one of the more surprising statistics: While 23 percent of American adults identify as “Unaffiliated,” or more commonly known as “None” — there is a 0.2 percent representation of this classification within Congress, with just one seat occupied.

The numbers also look quite different across party lines. Democrats are reportedly 80.2 percent Christian, but Republicans are a rather astounding 99.3 percent. Democrats currently hold 194 seats, while Republicans hold 241. Of these, 158 Democrats and 239 Republicans self-reported as Christian.

The 0.7 percent difference within the Republican Party is accounted for with two seats occupied by those identifying as Jewish.  There is zero representation within the Republican Party for the categories of Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Unitarian Universalist, Unaffiliated, or those of other faiths.

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Yet within the Democratic Party, these non-Christian groups are represented in small percentages (1.5 percent and lower for each religion). Jewish Democrats account for 11.6 percent of seats available.

We had the first available demographics for Congress’ religious makeup for the 87th Congress, in 1961-1962, which consisted of 95 percent Christians. Now, 28 sessions later, Christians are still hold the majority with only 4.3 percentage points dropped. These numbers do follow a downward trend in the overall number of Americans identifying as Christians, which is now at 83 percent, with 13 percent identifying as unaffiliated and the remaining 4 percent comprising all other reported religions combined.

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There has been roughly no change in congressional demographics since reports were first made in 1961, leading us to see that our representation still remains primarily Christian — even though the overall Christian population in America is on the decline, with Pew researchers projecting Muslims will outnumber Christians worldwide within this century.

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