I wrote this post almost word for word two years ago. In fact, I just copied/pasted it, updating a few things along the way.
It’s sad how little has changed since then regarding atheists in Congress.
What are the religious affiliations of members of the 112th Congress?
Pretty similar to the American public — Overwhelmingly Christian with a spattering of Jews, Muslims, and followers of other faiths.
Except in one category…
We apparently don’t exist in Congress.
Perhaps the greatest disparity between the religious makeup of Congress and the people it represents, however, is in the percentage of the unaffiliated — those who describe their religion as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular.” According to information gathered by CQ Roll Call and the Pew Forum, no members of Congress say they are unaffiliated. By contrast, about one-sixth of U.S. adults (16%) are not affiliated with any particular faith. Only six members of the 112th Congress (about 1%) do not specify a religious affiliation, which is similar to the percentage of the public that says they don’t know or refuses to specify their faith.
The first question that came to my mind: What about Congressman Pete Stark? Isn’t he an atheist?
Well, yes he is, but he is technically listed as a Unitarian (PDF).
There’s very little doubt in my mind that there are more unaffiliated, non-religious Americans in Congress, but they dare not say so because it would be political suicide where they come from. In the past two years, that pressure to stay in the closet has only gotten worse.
By the way, who are those 6 members of Congress who are “Unspecified” or didn’t answer the question?
Rep. Michael Bennet (D-CO)
Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA)
Rep. John W. Olver (D-MA)
Rep. John F. Tierney (D-MA)
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)
Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
Anyone see a pattern…?