Monday, January 17, 2011

The Unaffiliated Gap in Congress

Unaffiliateds--agnostics, atheists and those who declare no religion--are more underrepresented in Congress than any other group.

According to the Pew Forum, the biggest mismatch between numbers in the Congress and percentage in the general population occurs in the unaffiliated category. Although 16% of Americans say they are unaffiliated with any religion, only 1% of congressional representatives self-identify as unaffiliated.

The new Congress remains a majority (57%) Protestant and 29.2% Catholic. Methodists and Baptists are the largest Protestant groups. Episcopalians, Jews and Presbyterians enjoy greater percentages in the Congress than they do in the general population. Muslim and Buddhist representation in Congress matches their percentage in the general population. No Hindus or Jehovah's Witnesses serve in Congress. There are 2 Muslims and 3 Buddhists.

Instead of worrying about whether the president goes to church or is really Christian or Muslim, we should worry about whether the unaffiliateds' interests are represented in the government.

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