Congress And Religion: Who Prays Where – And Why It Doesn’t Much Matter

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life just released some interesting information about the 112th Congress.

Despite being vastly different politically from the 111th Congress, it’s not all that different religiously, according to Pew’s analysis. Nor are members’ religious affiliations much different than the general public.

The new Congress, like the previous one, is majority Protestant and about a quarter Catholic.  Baptists and Methodists are the largest Protestant denominations in the new Congress, just as they are the largest Protestant denominations in the country.

Pew found that Buddhists and Muslims are also represented similarly in Congress as they are in the general population, but Congress has a greater representation of Episcopalians, Presbyterians and Jews. There are no Hindus and Jehovah’s Witnesses in Congress.

While these results are intriguing, they actually don’t mean much.

Some Baptists support keeping the government separate from religion, but some don’t. Some Catholics feel strongly for separation, but certainly not all.

It just goes to show that it’s not religious affiliation that is important, but rather whether someone has a commitment to uphold the Constitution.  All elected officials have that duty, and that means they ought to support the separation of church and state, regardless of what they believe about religion.

Yesterday, members of the U.S. House of Representatives read the Constitution aloud on the House floor for the first time in history. We hope that House members – and their colleagues in the Senate – remember to uphold it when they’re crafting legislation.

As AU Executive Director Barry W. Lynn wrote for The Washington Post yesterday, maybe it will be a new day in America – with no government subsidies for religion, no reason for the government to tell us to pray on the National Day of Prayer and a Pledge of Allegiance that includes everyone.

If they take the Constitution seriously, we may actually be in luck.