According to a story distributed by Newhouse News Service, the 110th Congress convening today will be one of the most religiously diverse ever.
For the first time in history, Congress will include among its ranks a Muslim. Keith Ellison, a newly-elected Representative from Minnesota, converted from Catholicism to Islam when he was nineteen years old. Throughout his campaign, his religion was a source of contention that culminated when he announced he would take his oath of office on the Qur’an rather than the Bible.
The new Congress will also feature two Buddhists: Hank Johnson from Georgia, and Mazie Hirono from Hawaii. And for the first time, Jews will outnumber Episcopalians. Overall there are thirty Jewish Representatives and thirteen Senators. The Episcopalians have twenty-seven House seats and ten Senators.
Mitt Romney, Governor of Massachusetts, who is considering a run for the presidency, is a Mormon, as are ten Representatives and five Senators. Harry Reid of Nevada, the new Democratic majority leader in the Senate, is a Mormon.
The largest religious group represented in the new Congress is Roman Catholic. Catholics will have 129 Representatives and twenty-five Senators. The next largest group is Baptists, with fifty-nine Representatives and seven Senators. Coming in third are Methodists, with forty-eight Representatives and thirteen Senators.
It is also revealing to note who is not represented in the new Congress. No one from the Church of God is in the House, though the Senate includes a member of that group. There are also no Congregationalists in the House, but there is one Senator from that group. The inverse is true for Quakers — one in the House, but none in the Senate.
Six House members describe themselves as unaffiliated.