The Banner has a subscription to republish articles from Religion News Service. The first nine paragraphs of this story are from an article by Adelle M. Banks, published on religionnews.com Jan, 3 (c. 2023 Religion News Service). Paragraph 10 gives additional context for the Christian Reformed Church.
The religious makeup of the new U.S. Congress, getting to work this week, bucks the trends seen in American religious life, a new report finds.
The Pew Research Center says the Senate and House members are “largely untouched” by the continuing decrease in the portion of Americans who identify as Christian and the comparable increase in the share of those who say they do not have a religious affiliation.
Christians comprise 88% of the voting members of the 118th Congress, a number that has not changed much since the 1970s, when 91% of members said they were affiliated with the Christian faith.
The American population, on the other hand, has seen a drop in those identifying as Christians, from 78% in 2007 to 63% currently. Close to 3 in 10 Americans (29%) say they are religiously unaffiliated—atheist, agnostic, or “nothing in particular”—a far larger portion than 16% in 2007.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, an independent (since December) from Arizona, elected in 2019, remains the only member of the new Congress who uses the description of religiously unaffiliated. Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., describes himself as a humanist.
Another 20 members are listed as having no known religious affiliations. Most of them declined to state an affiliation when asked by CQ Roll Call, whose data is the primary source of analysis for the Pew biennial report. The “Faith on the Hill” report noted that Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., was “moved to this category following revelations that he misrepresented parts of his life story and resumé during his 2022 midterm campaign.”
The number of Christians—469—within the new Congress does mark the lowest number since Pew began its analysis of religious affiliation of the 111th Congress at the beginning of the 2009-10 session. But just by a hair. The number of Christians in Congress was above 470 in the eight most recent sessions and exceeded 500 as of 1970.
Overall, the 118th Congress looks similar to the previous body when comparing the two religiously.
Of the 534 total congressional members for the 2023-24 session, 303 are Protestants, compared to 297 in the session that just ended. The number of Baptists remained the same—at 67—while the number of Methodists and Episcopalians dropped by four each; Presbyterians had one fewer member. Catholics saw a drop of 10, with a new total of 148, but still comprise a greater share of Congress (28%) than they do the overall U.S. population (21%).
A few of those beginning or continuing to serve are members of the Christian Reformed Church who won seats in the November 2022 elections. Hillary Scholten, a CRC member from Grand Rapids, Mich., took the state’s 3rd Congressional District seat. Bill Huizenga, from Zeeland, Mich., was reelected for a seventh term, representing Michigan’s 4th Congressional District. Randy Feenstra, a CRC member in Hull, Iowa, was reelected to a second term in the House, representing Iowa’s 4th Congressional District. (See “CRC Members Elected to State and Federal Positions” by Greg Chandler.)