How Catholic Is Capitol Hill?

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by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  •  January 4, 2017   

Catholics in Congress are at an all-time high, but the majority are pro-abortion Democrats

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WASHINGTON ( - A new poll shows that while the number of U.S. congressmen who identify as Catholic is at an all-time high, the majority of these are members of the pro-abortion Democratic Party.

The Pew Research Center released a study Tuesday, January 3 — the same day the 115th Congress was sworn into office — revealing 31 percent of lawmakers claim to be Catholic. This is the highest concentration of Catholics on Capitol Hill since 1961, when such records were first available.

Of the 144 congressmen who profess to be Catholic in the U.S. House of Representatives, 74 belong to the Democratic Party, while only 70 are members of the pro-life Republican Party. The same study showed that of the 24 senators who claim Catholic affiliation, 15 are Democrats and nine are Republicans.

As the new Congress is sworn in every two years, Pew puts out a report tracking the religious composition of the legislators. They found that about the same percent of the 435 Representatives and 100 Senators of this year's 115th Congress claimed to be Christian, as did back in 1961 with the 87th Congress.

While the overall percentage of generic Christian affiliation in Congress has dropped only slightly in 50 years, the bigger shift is from Protestant to Catholic. In 1961, 95 percent of U.S. congressmen were Christian as compared to 91 percent today. The big difference is that in 1961, 75 percent of those Christians claimed some sort of Protestant affiliation, while only 19 percent were Catholic. Today, 31 percent of Christians in the federal Congress claim to be Catholic, while Protestant affiliation has fallen to 56 percent.

Pew also pointed out the religious disparity between electors and the elected. While 91 percent of legislators on Capitol Hill claim some Christian affiliation, only 71 percent of adults in the country do so. The most underrepresented religious group of the electorate were the so-called "nones," who claim not to have any religious affiliation whatsoever. The study showed that while only 0.2 percent of U.S. representatives and senators profess no religious affiliation, a whopping 23 percent of voters identify as "nones."

The study further reveals that Republicans tend to be Christian more so than Democrats. All of the Republicans elected to the 115th Congress were Christians except for two. Only 80 percent of Democrats now serving as U.S. senators or representatives identify as Christian. The other religious affiliations claimed by federal legislators included Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu and Unaffiliated or Nones.

The Democratic Party, also called the Party of Death for its stance on abortion and euthanasia, is seriously at odds with Catholic morals on several issues, including abortion, assisted suicide, so-called same-sex marriage, transgender identity and forcing employers to provide employees with insurance coverage for contraceptives. The Republican Party is in line with Catholic moral teaching on these and many other issues, as iterated by its 2016 GOP platform.


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Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.

Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th. is a staff writer for

Follow Bradley on Twitter: @BradleyLEli