Religious Diversity In Congress Rises, Says Survey

Religious diversity in Congress has increased, keeping in line with the nation’s general population, according to a survey by the Pew Forum.

The survey shows that U.S. senators and representatives from the 111th Congress, just sworn into office on Jan. 6, come from an array of religious backgrounds, matching the U.S. religious landscape as a whole. There is only one major exception – members of Congress are much more likely than the public to say they are affiliated with a particular religion.

Only five members of the new Congress (1 percent) did not specify a religious affiliation. By contrast, individuals who are not affiliated with a particular faith make up more than 16 percent of the American adult population.

There also are more Jewish members of Congress than in the general population. Jews account for 1.7 percent of the U.S. adult population but make up 8.4 percent of Congress.

Most members of Congress profess some affiliation with Christian traditions, with Roman Catholics being the single largest religious group. Catholics account for nearly 30 percent of Congress, somewhat higher than the general population, which is 25 percent Catholic. Protestants make up the majority of Congress (54.7 percent), about the same proportion as their share of the U.S. adult population (51.3 percent).

Two Buddhists, two Muslims and three Unitarians also hold seats in Congress, closely mirroring the U.S. population.