The U.S. Congress is more religious than the American people. About 99% of the 111th Congress, sworn in last week, claims a specific religious affiliation, according to data collected by the Pew Forum and the Congressional Quarterly. Contrast that figure with 84% of Americans who claim a religious affiliation, based on Pew’s U.S. Religious Landscape Survey – a 15 percentage-point difference. (To jump even further into the Pew data, here’s a Pew graphic showing the religious affiliations at a glance.)
Like the general population, most Senators and Representatives are Protestants, making up 55% of the new Congress. Catholics, Mormons, and Jews are overrepresented, compared with their numbers in the general population, while Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus are underrepresented. (For the numbers, take a look at the tables in the report.)
The religious affiliations of Republicans and Democrats in the 111th Congress differ a lot – 70% of Republicans are Protestants, compared with only 44% of Democrats. About 37% of Democrats are Catholic, compared with 21% of Republicans.
Over time, the U.S. Congress has gotten more religiously diverse, reflecting the same change in the American people.
But what do you think of the big difference: Why do almost all members of Congress have a religious affiliation?
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