Catholics largest group in new US Congress

Catholics form the largest religious group among the newly inaugurated US Congress with 29 per cent of members of the Senate and House of Representatives, which also includes its first Muslim congressman, according to media analyses.

The Washington Post reports that for the first time the new Congress includes a Muslim, two Buddhists, more Jews than Episcopalians and the highest-ranking Mormon in congressional history.

But Catholics remain the largest single faith group in Congress, accounting for nearly a third of all members, followed by Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Jews and Episcopalians.

While Catholics in Congress are almost 2-to-1 Democrats, the most lopsidedly Democratic groups are Jews and those not affiliated with a religion.

The most Republican groups are the small band of Christian Scientists in the House (all five are Republican) and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (12 Republicans and three Democrats) - though the top-ranking Mormon is Nevada Senator Harry M Reid, the new Democratic majority leader.

According to the Washington Post analyst Jonathan Tilove, Democrats have regained their commanding advantage among Catholics, which had slipped during an era of Republican dominance.

In Pennsylvania alone, five new Democrats, all Catholics, were elected to Congress in November, including Robert P Casey Jr, who defeated Sen. Rick Santorum, a far more conservative Catholic, Tilove notes.

In the new Congress, two-thirds of all Catholic members will be Democrats. By contrast, after big Republican gains in 1994, 44 percent of Catholic members of Congress were Republican, according to Albert Menendez, a writer and researcher who has been counting the religious affiliation of members of Congress since 1972.

New Congress Brings Along Religious Firsts (Washington Post, 6/1/07)
Catholics form largest bloc in new US Congress (Catholic World News, 6/1/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
US House of Representatives
US Senate

Dramatic shift in US Catholic vote, polls reveal (CathNews, 10/11/06)
US Democrats to appoint "Catholic Outreach" coordinator (CathNews, 16/6/06)

8 Jan 2007

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