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Mormons in Congress mirror percentage in U.S. population

First Published      Last Updated Jan 03 2017 10:38 pm

Pew report » Latter-day Saints make up about 2.4 percent of the two chambers.

Washington • The new Congress includes the fewest Mormons in its ranks in several recent sessions, with 13 LDS Church members in the House and Senate as compared with 16 last year.

An analysis by the Pew Research Center found that some religious groups, including Protestants, Catholics and Jews, will have more representation in Congress than the groups have in the general American population while Mormons, Muslims and Orthodox Christians are represented in about equal percentages to the their share of the U.S. populace.

Mormons, including all six members of Utah's delegation, will make up about 2.4 percent of Congress while, generally, Latter-day Saints make up about 2 percent of American adults, Pew says.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican and Mormon, said that the growing rolls of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints could help change that equation going forward.

"We've got 85,000 missionaries working on that," Chaffetz said.

The congressional sessions in 1999 and 2000 saw the highest number of Mormons in modern times, with 17 members serving in the House and Senate. The second highest — 16 — served in the past two years of Congress. Seven Mormons served in Congress in 1961 and 1962.

The Pew analysis did not cover all years of congressional sessions.

Religiously unaffiliated Americans make up the faith group that is the most underrepresented in Congress, a group Pew refers to as "religious nones" who make up nearly a quarter of Americans but only 0.2 percent of Congress. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., is the only member who describes herself as religiously unaffiliated.

A third of House members are Catholic, while about a quarter of the 100 senators are, Pew found. Mormons make up 6 percent of the Senate but only about 2 percent of the House.