New Congress more religiously diverse

New Congress more religiously diverse



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SALT LAKE CITY — The new 113th U.S. Congress sworn in last week is more religiously diverse than ever, but it appears to be less diverse than the nation's population.

For example, surveys have shown that nearly one-in-five Americans say they have no religion. But the Huffington Post points out only one member of the 533 people in Congress falls into that category.

Data from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life shows the 113th Congress includes:

  • The first Buddhist to serve in the Senate
  • The first Hindu to serve in either chamber
  • The first member of Congress to describe her religion as "none"

It says the gradual trend toward increasing religious diversity in the Congress reflects the same trend in the public. But still, the Congress is far less diverse than the nation.

This Congress, like the previous one, is majority Protestant, but "far less" Protestant today than it was 50 years ago. The data also shows there are a greater percentage of Protestants, Catholics, Jews and Mormons in the Congress than in the U.S. adult population.

Catholics saw the biggest gains in Congressional seats, while Protestants and Jews experienced the biggest declines in numbers. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continue to hold 15 seats (about 3 percent), the same as in the previous Congress.

The largest disparity is probably with people who do not identify with any particular religion, Pew researchers said.

Information gathered by CQ Roll Call shows Kyrsten Sinema D-Ariz., is the first member of Congress to publicly describe her religion as "none." Ten other members of Congress do not specify a religious affiliation, up from six members of the previous Congress.

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Linda Williams

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