Sunday, 7 March 2021

Over-Represented Christians Still Not Privileged Enough

The difference between the percentage of each faith or none in the population and the percentage in Congress.

Data Source: Pew Research - Faith on the Hill
The religious composition of the 117th Congress | Pew Research Center

In their incessant search for martyrdom, fundamentalist Christians continually complain of being victimised; of being under-represented or of not having the same rights and privilges as others, so what are the facts?

Pew Research recently conducted a survey of the religious leanings/affiliations of elected members of the US Congress and compared the proportions of the various faiths to those of the general population. Not surprisingly to those who really are under-represented in the US legislature - the rapidly growing number of 'Nones' or non-affiliated Americans - not only are Christians more than adequately represented but it is actually the 'Nones' who lack representation in what is supposed to be a representative democracy.

For example, while Christians of all denominations form just 65% of the US adult population, they comprise 88.1% of the Congress. Similarly, Protestant of all denominations comprising 43% of US adults, get 55.4% of the House; Catholics, with 20% of the population get 29.8% of the House, and Jews, who comprise just 2% of adult Americans, get 6.2% if the seats in Congress. Anglicans and Presbyterians (1% and 2% of US adults respectively) get 4.9% and 4.5% of seats.

On the other hand, with the 'Nones' or non-affiliates now making up 26% of the US adult population, they get just 0.2% of the House! This is a massive under-representation almost amounting to disenfranchisement!

It's not until we get down to the individual denominations that we find a few instances of under-representation, often because the actual numbers are so small, differences of just one or two seats can make a large difference in the relative representation. For example, the minor Christian churches such as Congregationalists, Pentecostals, Resorationists, Adventsists, Reformed and Pietists, all with 5% or less of the population, each have less than 1% of the seats, but with single-figure representation, just one or two more seats could turn under-representation into over-representation.

The only one which stands out as being under-represented, and then by only a small margin, is Baptist (15% of US adults) who have 12.5% of the Congress. In this case, under-representation of the black population in Congress could be the main factor since the majority of Baptist churches tend to be historically black churches.

There is clearly something wrong with a supposedly representative, secular democracy where 65% of the people get nearly 90% of the representatives and 26% are virtually disenfranchised. And yet still the over-represented Christians complain that they aren't privileged enough. The cause is relatively simple to understand - when people of religion are in the majority in just about every congressional district, a candidate can win support by appealing to that majority and by ignoring the minority, no matter how large. And with a large number of Americans still placing Atheists below Islamic terrorists in their demonology, and apparently, having some deep need to hate people who challenge their simple certainties, it is easy to dismiss anyone who comes out for non-affiliation in political debate. Winning the seat 'fer Jaysus' becomes the sacred duty of every true Christian and turns the population into one easily manipulated by politicians on the make. Then there is the overtly political propaganda coming from the pulpits of churches who pay no tax on the understanding that they are politically neutral and don't become vehicles for political propaganda.

But then lying for money and political influence has never been a problem for conservative evangelical Christians.








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