Religious Affiliation or Unaffiliation in U.S. Congress

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Last year Arizona elected Sen. Kyrsten Sinema to the U.S. House of Representatives and she is currently the only person serving Congress to identify as religiously unaffiliated which means that less than 0.2 percent of the lawmaking body is not religious. When two representatives who identify as "Unitarian Universalist" and eighteen who chose not to answer or do not know how to answer are added to this number, just over 2.5 percent of representatives are not affiliated with traditional theistic faith. If those numbers are compared to the general American public it is clear that Congress does not follow the same trend. According to many surveys and researches, somewhere around ¼ of general public in the U.S. is not religiously affiliated.

The U.S. House of Representatives should be a body which represents the people of America and articulate the people's will into documents which shape the everyday life. When it comes to some important questions if there is an enormous difference between the views of members of the Congress and regular American people then there is a huge possibility that the American public is not going to be adequately represented in its House of Representatives. If there is an increase in number of people who are not affiliated with any religious group there should be the same increase among the members of the Congress.

One reason why the share of religiously unaffiliated in the Congress is not higher may be negative public perception of atheists. Atheists, ironically, are seen as those who initiate a fierce debate about religion and make demands in order to deprive religious people from their right to practice religion. Politicians who are not religiously affiliated may refuse to identify in that way in order to avoid the suspicion in the minds of voters that the politician is unpatriotic, has no moral center, lacks integrity and is probably dishonest. This is of course not true and atheists surely can not be defined in this particular way because the actions which atheists take are oriented towards defending people's rights.

The fact is that there is a growing percentage of the religiously unaffiliated among the voting public and this fact may encourage politicians to openly state their religious status. It would be better for the people to have a variety of religious points of view represented in the House of Representatives. Religious freedom is an important principle in the United States and religious unaffiliation should not be discourages in order to finally have a Congress that truly represents American people.

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