Newly Sworn-In Congress Overwhelmingly Christian, Reveals New Study

Jan 06, 2015 12:50 PM EST

The 114th Congress of the United States, which is to be sworn in on Tuesday, is primarily comprised of Christians, a recent Pew Research Study has shown.

The Washington Post first reported the results of the Pew survey on Monday, which reveals that nearly 92 percent of representatives identify as Christians-- almost 20 percent more than the general population.

To conduct their study, Pew queried all 491 members in Congress, and found that 57.2 percent identify as Protestants, compared to 49 percent of the American public. Another 30.7 identified as Catholic, while only 22 percent of the population answered the same. While 5.2 percent of representatives are Jewish, only 2% of Americans say the same.

Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus make up 1% of Congress - five lawmakers in all - and 2% of American adults.

Only one representative, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, or 0.2 percent of Congress, selected the unaffiliated option. However, according to the survey, around 20 percent of Americans claim to be religiously unaffiliated.

The survey also studied religious differences between party members, and found that there are more Protestant Republicans than Democrats in both the House (164 vs. 87) and the Senate (38 vs. 17). There are also slightly more Republican Catholics in the House than Democrats (70 vs. 68), but more Democratic Catholics in the Senate (15 vs. 11).

The study concluded that the composition of the 114th Congress is essentially the same as for the 113th Congress, in which 90 percent of representatives said that they are Christians. However, it noted that Congress is significantly more religiously diverse than it was in the 1960's and 70's.

"Comparing the 114th Congress with the 87th (1961-1962), for example, the share of Protestants is down by 18 percentage points, while the share of Catholics is up by 12 points. The percentage of Jewish members in Congress is up 3 points."

While many media outlets have openly condemned the lack of diversity within Congress, Don Byrd of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty encourages voters not to focus solely on representative's religious affiliation, but on their dedication to protecting religious freedoms.

"In today's ceremony, members of Congress will swear to uphold and protect the rights of all Americans, including our religious liberty rights," he writes, "Can a Christian representative do that as well as anyone? Of course. So too a Muslim, Hindu, Jewish or atheist member of Congress. What matters most is not whether the religious makeup of Congress reflects all of America, but whether the Congress protects the religious liberty of all Americans. As this new Congress begins its work, we should be vigilant in holding them accountable to that charge."