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Group issues report on religious affiliations of U.S. Congress.

The religious affiliations of members of the U.S. Congress span the theological spectrum, a new report indicates.

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life gathered information on members of the 112th Congress and found that, like the overall American population, most members belong to Protestant denominations.

Congress consists of 100 senators and 435 members of the House of Representatives. In this 535-member body, 304 members are Protestant. This accounts for nearly 57 percent. In the general U.S. population, 51.3 percent are Protestants.

Baptists are the largest single Protestant body in the Congress, accounting for 68 members. They are followed by Methodists (51 members), Presbyterians (45 members), Episcopalians/Anglicans (41 members), Lutherans (26 members) and Congregationalists (4 members). Fifty-eight members are listed as "unspecified/other" types of Protestants.

Other Protestant denominations are also represented, but in much smaller

numbers. For example, there are two Seventh-day Adventists in Congress, one Quaker, two members who are "non-denominational" Protestants and three listed as "other Christian."

Roman Catholics account for 156 members, just over 29 percent of the Congress (as opposed to 23.9 percent of the general population). There are 15 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), 39 who are Jewish, three Buddhists and two Muslims.

Pew reported that most members of Congress are willing to declare a religious affiliation. Only six members are listed as "Don't Know/Refused." Although none are listed as "Unaffiliated" two opted for "Other Faiths."

The eagerness to affiliate with a specific denomination puts Congress at odds with the general American population. In recent years, the number of Americans who say their religion is "none" has shot up to about 15 percent. In the Pew survey, no member opted for "none" as a religion, although U.S. Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.), who is usually identified as a Unitarian-Universalist, "came out" as a non-believer a few years ago.

Pew relied on data about members of Congress gathered by Congressional Quarterly and Roll Call, supplementing it with information that was reported in the media.

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Title Annotation:PEOPLE & EVENTS
Publication:Church & State
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2011
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