Who Stands for Us?

Tom Flynn

On the day the 112th Congress was seated, the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life reported on its religious composition. Pew’s press release reported that “the 112th Congress, like the U.S. public, is majority Protestant and about a quarter Catholic. Baptists and Methodists are the largest Protestant denominations in the new Congress, just as they are in the country as a whole."

Dig a little deeper, and things become less perfectly proportional. Pew judges that Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and Jews are somewhat overrepresented. Hindus and Jehovah’s Witnesses go unrepresented. But Buddhists and Muslims, Pew declares, are “represented in Congress in roughly equal proportion to their numbers in the adult U.S. population." (One wonders how that judgment was reached for Muslim Americans when there’s so little agreement on how numerous they are; figures from 600,000 to nine million have credentialed adherents, while mainstream estimates range anywhere between two and six million.)

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