Christians continue to hold the vast majority of seats in the U.S. Congress, according to a report published Jan. 4 by Pew Research Center.
In the 117th Congress, which began on Jan. 3, 2021, 88.1% of Congress (468 members) affiliate with a Christian faith tradition. Of this total, 55.4% are Protestants (294 members), 29.8% are Catholics (158 members), 1.7% Mormons (9 members) and 1.3% Orthodox (7 members).
Christian representation in Congress far outpaces the 65% of U.S. adults who identify as Christian, while the 26% of religiously unaffiliated among U.S. adults are grossly underrepresented with only 0.2% of Congress (1 member) identifying as unaffiliated.
Both Protestants (43% of all U.S. adults; 55.4% of Congress) and Catholics (20% of U.S. adults; 29.8% of Congress) are overrepresented, while Mormon representation (1.7%) is almost equal to the adult population (2%) and Orthodox representation (1.3%) is slightly higher than the adult population (less than 1%).
Among the Protestants in Congress, 96 seats (18.1%) are held by members who identify as Protestants without specifying a specific tradition, followed by Baptists (66 seats; 12.4%), Methodists (35 seats; 6.6%), Anglicans / Episcopalians (26 seats; 4.9%), Presbyterians (24 seats; 4.5%), Lutherans (22 seats; 4.1%) and nondenominational Protestants (12 seats; 2.3%).
The remaining Protestant groups – Pentecostals, Restorationists, Adventists, Reformed and Pietists – each had fewer than five members of Congress and accounted for less than 1% of the total congressional seats.
There are 33 Jewish congressional representatives (6.2% of all congressional seats), compared to only 2% of all U.S. adults who are Jewish. The other religious groups had representation roughly equal to their proportion of the U.S. adult population.
With 464 of the 531 congressional members (87%) returning, changes from the 116th to the 117th Congress are minimal. The most notable difference is a 16-seat (3.1%) increase in members who identify as Protestant but do not specify a particular tradition.
“Over the last several Congresses, there has been a marked increase in the share of members who identify themselves simply as Protestants or as Christians without further specifying a denomination,” the report said. “Meanwhile, the share of all U.S. adults in this category has held relatively steady.”
Due to runoff elections taking place after the report’s release, only 531 of the 535 members of the U.S. Congress are covered in this report.