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Why Does Religious Affiliation of the U.S. Congress look Different than the Population?

Since 1961, those who claim no religious affiliation have risen to nearly a quarter of the population. Yet 91 percent of the members of the U.S. Congress claim to be Christians. However, the make up of congressional affiliation has changed significantly since then.

The share of Catholics has climbed substantially, from 19 in 1961 to 31 percent today, while the share of Protestants has fallen, from 75 to 56 percent. And while the share of Jews has remained roughly the same since the early 1980s, more Buddhist, Mormon, and Muslim politicians have now been elected to Congress, in proportions that more or less reflect those of the general public.

“The group that is most notably underrepresented is the religiously unaffiliated,” say Pew research who did the review of data. Only one member of congress lists no public religious affiliation, even as 23 percent of the general public see themselves that way.

Prophecy tells us that religious institutions will have an enduring importance in American political life, despite a decrease in the number of people who actively identify with them.

Part of the reason for the gap, says John Green, a political scientist at the University of Akron, has to do with the social characteristics associated with success in politics. “Religious organizations are really important parts of most communities in the United States,” says John Green, a political scientist at the University of Akron. “Members of Congress tend to be… active and engaged in the community…,” while “nones” tend to be less engaged in community life, he adds. Congressional representation of “nones” could change over time.

Religious legislators will play a big role in the end-time religious environment in the United States. In fact, they will require all to worship in the same way under pressure from pastors, priests and other church leaders. Therefore, it should be no surprise that lawmakers outnumber the population in their so-called Christian identity.

“In the last conflict the Sabbath will be the special point of controversy throughout all Christendom. Secular rulers and religious leaders will unite to enforce the observance of the Sunday; and as milder measures fail, the most oppressive laws will be enacted. It will be urged that the few who stand in opposition to an institution of the church and a law of the land ought not to be tolerated, and a decree will finally be issued denouncing them as deserving of the severest punishment, and giving the people liberty, after a certain time, to put them to death. Romanism in the Old World, and apostate Protestantism in the New, will pursue a similar course toward those who honor the divine precepts.” Spirit of Prophecy, Vol. 4 pages 444-445.

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