Small numerical gains by religious groups least represented in politics, at the expense of the big denominations, highlight findings of CHRISTIANITY TODAY’s religious census of the new Congress.
Changes in religious complexion of the membership from the Ninetieth to the Ninety-First Congress were slight, since 1968 was a good year for incumbents. Totals of only two groups changed by more than one member.
The Roman Catholics gained two, increasing their plurality to 111. The Methodists, largest Protestant grouping in Congress took the greatest loss (down three to ninety). The third-, fourth-, and fifth-ranking groups on Capitol Hill each lost one: Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and Baptists.
Gains of one went to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Jews, Society of Friends (Quakers), Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), Lutherans, and Greek Orthodox. The latter three groups are among the most under-represented in the Congress, compared to the size of their church membership. In fact, the Greek Orthodox were not represented in Congress until two years ago. By contrast, the affluent, largely white, British-background denominations are well represented. Comparing church size with the congressional figures, leaders are the Unitarian-Universalists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and United Church of Christ. The Congress statistics indicate something of the prestige and social involvement of America’s religious groups, on a personal basis.
The U. S. Senate has its first member from the Schwenkfelder Church, and the House, its first member from the Christian and Missionary Alliance (see story on facing page).
The most controversial religious figure in the new Congress is Baptist preacher Adam Clayton Powell, re-elected from Harlem even ...1
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