Monday, January 31, 2011

New Boss Same As The Old Boss?

No, not quite.

But close enough for government work.

Faith On The Hill: The Religious Composition of the 112th Congress (The Pew Forum On Religion & Public Life; Jan 6)

Many analysts described the November 2010 midterm elections as a sea change, with Republicans taking control of the U.S. House of Representatives and narrowing the Democratic majority in the Senate. But this political overhaul appears to have had little effect on the religious composition of Congress, which is similar to the religious makeup of the previous Congress and of the nation, according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life.

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.

A few of the country’s smaller religious groups, including Episcopalians, Presbyterians and Jews, have greater numerical representation in Congress than in the general population. Some others, including Buddhists and Muslims, are represented in Congress in roughly equal proportion to their numbers in the adult U.S. population. And some small religious groups, such as Hindus and Jehovah’s Witnesses, are not represented at all in Congress.

Perhaps the greatest disparity between the religious makeup of Congress and the people it represents, however, is in the percentage of the unaffiliated – those who describe their religion as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular.” According to information gathered by CQ Roll Call and the Pew Forum, no members of Congress say they are unaffiliated. By contrast, about one-sixth of U.S. adults (16%) are not affiliated with any particular faith. Only six members of the 112th Congress (about 1%) do not specify a religious affiliation, which is similar to the percentage of the public that says they don’t know or refuses to specify their faith....

My local paper recently ran a story about this report.

It mentioned that the religious composition of Congress hadn't changed much in the wake of the last election but failed to say anything at all about how severely under-represented non-religious Americans continue to be.

That's not just a case of burying the headline - it's a case of exorcising it completely.

Does this mean that non-religious Americans are under-represented in the editorial offices of our newspapers as well?


  1. Yeah, right. And George W. Bush read the bible every god-damned day.
    Don't forget gays are also underrepresented in the legislature, if you only go by their public stances and not their wide stances in the men's room.
    Democracy in America might be Darwin's way of weeding truth-tellers out of public life.

  2. At least we're kind-of-sort-of acknowledged by the new administration. Baby steps, I suppose.