24-November-2012 -- EWTNews Feature |

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Catholic numbers in Congress increase

The 2012 elections increased the number of Catholics in Congress, with 161 now holding seats in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives.

There are 27 Catholic senators and 134 Catholic U.S. representatives in Congress. About 36 percent of Democrats in Congress are Catholic, compared to 25 percent of Republicans, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life says.

"While Congress remains majority Protestant, the institution is far less so today than it was 50 years ago, when nearly three-quarters of the members belonged to Protestant denominations," the Pew Forum said Nov. 16.

The number of Catholics is an increase of five from the 2010 elections. Catholics now make up over 30 percent of Congress, while Protestants make up 56 percent.

Catholics make up about 22 percent of the U.S. population and are somewhat overrepresented in Congress. However, party divisions, dissent from Catholic teaching and other disagreements mean that Catholics are unlikely to vote as a bloc on controversial issues.

Baptists and Methodists are the two largest Protestant sub-groups, with 74 and 47 members each, followed by Presbyterians and Episcopalians, who have 43 and 38 members of Congress, respectively. There are 22 Lutherans in Congress.

There are now 32 Jewish members of Congress, a decline from 39 in 2010. There are 15 Mormons in the newly elected Congress.

Catholics, Protestants and Jews are overrepresented in Congress compared to the general population.

Americans without a religious affiliation make up about 20 percent of the population, but only one member of Congress, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) had no religious affiliation.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) is the first Hindu elected to Congress, while Sen. Mazie K. Hirono is the first Buddhist elected to the Senate.

The Pew Forum said the 113th Congress continues a "gradual increase in religious diversity that mirrors trends in the country as a whole."

Read more: http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/US.php?id=6600#ixzz2DLSwVuJa



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