The following comes from the PEW Research Center.
|The new, 116th Congress includes the first two Muslim women ever to serve in the House of Representatives, and is, overall, slightly more religiously diverse than the prior Congress. |
There has been a 3-percentage-point decline in the share of members of Congress who identify as Christian – in the 115th Congress, 91% of members were Christian, while in the 116th, 88% are Christian. There are also four more Jewish members, one additional Muslim and one more Unitarian Universalist in the new Congress – as well as eight more members who decline to state their religious affiliation (or lack thereof).
While the number of self-identified Christians in Congress has ticked down, Christians as a whole – and especially Protestants and Catholics – are still overrepresented in proportion to their share in the general public. Indeed, the religious makeup of the new, 116th Congress is very different from that of the United States population.
Within Protestantism, certain groups are particularly numerous in the new Congress, including Methodists, Anglicans/Episcopalians, Presbyterians and Lutherans. Additionally, Protestants in the “unspecified/other” category make up just 5% of the U.S. public, but 15% of Congress. By contrast, some other Protestant groups are underrepresented, including Pentecostals (5% of the U.S. public vs. 0.4% of Congress).
But by far the largest difference between the U.S. public and Congress is in the share who are unaffiliated with a religious group. In the general public, 23% say they are atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular.” In Congress, just one person – Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., who was recently elected to the Senate after three terms in the House – says she is religiously unaffiliated, making the share of “nones” in Congress 0.2%.
When asked about their religious affiliation, a growing number of members of Congress decline to specify (categorized as “don’t know/refused”). This group – all Democrats – numbers 18, or 3% of Congress, up from 10 members (2%) in the 115th Congress. Their reasons for this decision may vary. But one member in this category, Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., announced in 2017 that he identifies as a humanist and says he is not sure God exists. Huffman remains categorized as “don’t know/refused” because he declined to state his religious identity in the CQ Roll Call questionnaire used to collect data for this report.
These are some of the findings from an analysis by Pew Research Center of CQ Roll Call data on the religious affiliations of members of Congress, gathered through questionnaires and follow-up phone calls to members’ and candidates’ offices. The CQ questionnaire asks members what religious group, if any, they belong to. It does not attempt to measure their religious beliefs or practices. The Pew Research Center analysis compares the religious affiliations of members of Congress with the Center’s survey data on the U.S. public.