People With No Religion Underrepresented By a Factor of 100 in New Congress

20 percent of Americans have no affiliation with organized religion. Only 0.2 percent of Congress says the same.

Americans expect their Congress members to represent the depth and breadth of the public. Our country was founded on the notion of representative democracy—that lawmakers would be of the people.

But a new Pew report that digs into the religious backgrounds of the 114th Congress reveals it is actually wildly unrepresentative of the religious makeup of the American public at large.

To start with, here's a graph Pew composed showing the makeup of both the House and Senate:

Researchers compared these statistics to the religious affiliation of the American public. The most underrepresented group is Americans who are unaffiliated with organized religion. Twenty percent of Americans are unaffiliated but only 0.2 percent of Congress is, meaning they are underrepresented by 100 times.

Other specific religious groups are overrepresented. Mormons are 2 percent of the population but 7 percent of the Senate. Jews are 2 percent of the population but 9 percent of the Senate.

None of this is to argue that people should vote for someone solely due to their religious faith, but it does show that our Congress members not only don’t look like the American people, they don’t worship (or not worship) like us either.

Zaid Jilani is an AlterNet staff writer. Follow @zaidjilani on Twitter.

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