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On religion, Capitol freshmen are more diverse than their incumbent colleagues
January 4th, 2013
06:35 AM ET

On religion, Capitol freshmen are more diverse than their incumbent colleagues

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN)– The 113th Congress is being heralded for its number of women and minorities, but that diversity extends to religion, too. Newly revised numbers released by The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life show the 113th Congress' freshmen class is more religiously diverse than the lawmakers they will be joining in Congress.

While 57.6% of incumbents, a majority of Congress, identify as Protestants, that number is lower among freshmen legislators, of whom 48.2% identify as Protestants, according to the study. Additionally, there are more unaffiliated, Unitarian, Hindu and Buddhists in the 113th Congress freshman class than in classes before.

These numbers were updated by Pew after House seats were finalized and the new members of Congress were sworn in.

This increase in diversity means a number of religious firsts for Capitol Hill: the first Hindu to serve in either legislative body, the first Buddhist to serve in the Senate and the first member of either chamber to describe their religion as "none."

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Hawaii Democrat Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu elected to Congress, took Thursday's oath of office on the Bhagavad Gita, an essential piece of Hindu scripture. Her candidacy and electoral victory was heralded by the Hindu community, especially political groups, across the country.


Tulsi Gabbard speaks on stage with other female members of Congress during day one of the Democratic National Convention.

For Gabbard, the emphasis Hindus put on service is what she brings with her to Congress.

"What I bring from my practice is a great importance and motivation on service and I think that really is the most important focus as we head into the 113th Congress," Gabbard said at an event honoring the women of the Democratic caucus on Thursday. "If we keep that at the forefront then I know we will be headed in a good direction."

In addition to being the first Hindu in Congress, Gabbard shares a first because of her service in the military. She and Illinois Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth, another freshman, are the first female combat veterans to serve in Congress.

Standing outside the Capitol on a brisk Washington morning, Gabbard said: "Those personal experiences and the background that I bring give me great opportunity to be of service not only to the people of Hawaii and the people of our country."

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Hawaii also elected the first Buddhist to the Senate in Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Hirono said, "There need to be many more of us in here. I am going to make sure that happens."

Although religious diversity has increased in both legislative bodies, that does not mean Congress is directly representative of the entire faith community.

While the entire United States is 48% Protestant, according to Pew, 56.1% of the members of Congress identify with that faith. Additionally, Catholics, Mormons and Jews are all overrepresented when compared to the percentage of American adults who identify with each faith.

Some faiths are also underrepresented. While 17% of America is Baptist, 13.7% of the 113th Congress identifies as such.

The starkest gap is among the unaffiliated - a group that includes atheists, agnostics and people who choose not to affiliate with an organized religion. Though 20% of the population falls into this group, only one member, Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, identifies as a "none."

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Politics

soundoff (332 Responses)
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    December 9, 2013 at 2:36 am |
  2. Science

    Free speech helps educate the masses................POLITICIANS too !.............time to EVOLVE.......and same page !

    Where do morals come from?

    By Kelly Murray, CNN

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/04/12/where-do-morals-come-from/#comments
    Gravity is not up for debate !

    BY the way ...................Splat goes a fairy in the sky !...............bye bye tinker bell !

    Einstein's Gravity Theory Passes Toughest Test Yet..............................E = mc2..........(U–Pb).................two math formulas.

    Apr. 25, 2013 — A strange stellar pair nearly 7,000 light-years from Earth has provided physicists with a unique cosmic laboratory for studying the nature of gravity. The extremely strong gravity of a massive neutron star in orbit with a companion white dwarf star puts competing theories of gravity to a test more stringent than any available before

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130425142250.htm

    Hey James Madison................religion has none it looks like.............with the comments on this blog.

    The Big question is ETHICS ! does religion have any ?

    The Ethics of Resurrecting Extinct Species

    Apr. 8, 2013 — At some point, scientists may be able to bring back extinct animals, and perhaps early humans, raising questions of ethics and environmental disruption.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130408165955.htm

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    Dinosaur Egg Study Supports Evolutionary Link Between Birds and Dinosaurs: How Troodon Likely Hatched Its Young

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    And NO ANGELS the pope KICKED them OFF the TEAM last year !

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    the wrong path is Adam and Eve !

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    For what...................... ? Make sure to read what the pope said !

    Where do morals come from?

    By Kelly Murray, CNN

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    Learning is fun with facts.......................... and facts work when teaching children.

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    Science

    Heaven is 'a fairy story,' scientist Stephen Hawking says updated Tue May 17, 2011
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    April 7th, 2012

    08:32 PM ET

    The Jesus debate: Man vs. myth

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/04/07/the-jesus-debate-man-vs-myth/comment-page-137/#comment-2281915

    Make sure to read comments

    April 18, 2013 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |

    Breaking News

    NASA: Three planets found are some of best candidates so far for habitable worlds outside our solar system.

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    NASA: Mars could have supported life

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    BBC. Planet of the Apemen. Battle for Earth 1. Ho-mo Erectus

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    Einstein letter, set for auction, shows scientist challenging idea of God, being 'chosen'

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    Decades before atheist scientist and author Richard Dawkins called God a "delusion," one world-renowned physicist – Albert Einstein – was weighing in on faith matters with his own strong words.

    “The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends,” Einstein wrote in German in a 1954 letter that will be auctioned on eBay later this month. "No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.”

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    May 4, 2013 at 6:47 am | Report abuse |

    Peace

    May 4, 2013 at 9:09 am |
  3. atomic

    ... except Tulsi is not really a Hindu. She belongs to a very controversial Hare Krishna sect in Hawaii that fundamentally criticizes the Hindus for being backward and offensive to their god, Krishna, and just about everybody, especially the gay community that opposes their weird belief system.
    http://forum.rickross.com/read.php?12,4453,page=417

    January 9, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
  4. Origin of Life

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    January 7, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.