With 30 Members, Jews Make Up 5.6% of New Congress

Alicia WestJan 05, 2017

While Pew did not have numbers for the early 1960s, a Gallup survey from that time found that 93 percent of Americans described themselves as Christian.

And, as 1 Timothy 2:1-2 teaches us, let's pray for our leaders: "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way" (ESV). Republicans remain nearly a unanimously Christian party in Congress; they just elected their second current Jewish member in Rep. David Kustoff (R-Tenn.) (who joins New York's Lee Zeldin), but their other 291 members are all Christians. Greg Smith, associate director for research at Pew, told Religion News Service.

And 13 percent of its new members affiliate with non-Christian faiths, almost double the share of non-Christian incumbent members, according to Pew.


In 1961, 94.9 percent of those in Congress identified as Christian compared to 90.7 percent today. That's a full three minyans if only all 28 Democrats and two Republicans would wish to pray together on Capitol Hill. The big difference is that in 1961, 75 percent of those Christians claimed some sort of Protestant affiliation, while only 19 percent were Catholic. The make up of Mormons, Muslims, Buddhists, and Orthodox Christians in Congress is pretty much the same as in the USA public. The 115th Congress's freshman class also includes five new Jewish members and Buddhist Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii. Among the Dems, 42 percent are Protestant while 37 percent are Catholic. In contrast, though Pew had found that 23 percent of Americans identify themselves as religiously unaffiliated in a separate study, that population is represented by only one member of Congress. There are also three Buddhists, two Muslims, and three Hindus. Is congressional religious affiliation important to you as a voter?

The number of Protestants has been steadily declining, reflecting the general decline of the U.S. Protestant population, while Catholics - after a steady surge- now comprise more than 31% of Congress. Other religious groups, like Buddhists, Orthodox Christians, and Mormons have a proportional representation on Congress compared to the USA general population.

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