When it comes to religious affiliation, the 117th U.S. Congress looks similar to the previous Congress but quite different from Americans overall.
While about a quarter (26%) of U.S. adults are religiously unaffiliated – describing themselves as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” – just one member of the new Congress (Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.) identifies as religiously unaffiliated (0.2%).
Nearly nine-in-ten members of Congress identify as Christian (88%), compared with two-thirds of the general public (65%). Congress is both more heavily Protestant (55% vs. 43%) and more heavily Catholic (30% vs. 20%) than the U.S. adult population overall.
Fully 99% of Republicans in Congress identify as Christians. There are two Jewish Republicans in the House, Reps. Lee Zeldin of New York and David Kustoff of Tennessee. New York Rep. Chris Jacobs declined to specify a religious affiliation. All other Republicans in the 117th Congress identify as Christian in some way.
Most Republican members of Congress identify as Protestants (68%). The largest Protestant groups are Baptists (15%), Methodists (6%), Presbyterians (6%), Lutherans (5%) and Episcopalians (4%). However, 26% of Republicans are Protestants who do not specify a denomination – up from 20% in the previous Congress. There are 15 Republican freshmen in this category, compared with three Democratic newcomers.
Now that Democratic Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico has retired, all nine members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes called Mormons) in Congress are Republicans.8
Democrats in Congress also are heavily Christian – much more than U.S. adults overall (78% vs. 65%).9 But the share of Democrats who identify as Christian is 21 percentage points lower than among Republicans (99%). Democrats are much less likely than Republicans to identify as Protestant (43% vs. 68%). Conversely, Catholics make up a higher share among Democrats than they do among Republicans (34% vs. 26%).
Among Democrats, 11% are Jewish, and 6% did not specify a religious affiliation. All of the Unitarian Universalists (3), Muslims (3), Buddhists (2) and Hindus (2) in Congress are Democrats, as are the single members in the “other” and religiously unaffiliated categories.