IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

This Week in God, 1.7.17

The country is becoming more religiously diverse. Congress isn't.
Congress Struggles With Funding Repairs To U.S. Capitol Dome
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 28: The dome of the U.S. Capitol is seen on Capitol Hill August 28, 2012 in Washington, DC. It has been reported that the dome has 1...
First up from the God Machine this week, despite ample evidence that the American public has become more religiously diverse over the last couple generations, there's new evidence that the faith traditions of Americans' elected representatives in Congress haven't changed much over the last half-century.The New York Times reported this week:

Despite the steady decline in the percentage of Americans who identify as Christian, the proportion of congressional members who say they are Christian has remained very close to what it was in the early 1960s, according to a new report.The report, released on Tuesday by Pew Research Center, found that 91 percent of the members of the new session of Congress, the 115th, identified as Christian. More than half a century ago, in 1961, 95 percent of United States representatives and senators said that they were Christian, the report said.

That's obviously a very modest shift over the course of nearly six decades, which doesn't reflect changes to the electorate overall. Aleksandra Sandstrom, the report's author, told the Times, "That really is telling, especially with the changing U.S. population and the very big change in the presidency. Congress is really, at least religiously, staying very, very steady."There are some partisan differences. Among congressional Republicans, 99.3% identify as Christians, while among Democrats, 80% are Christian, while the remaining fifth are Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, or religiously unaffiliated. By way of comparison, 71% of Americans consider themselves Christians.The Pew Research Center's full report, which digs much deeper into the data, including an interesting breakdown by chamber, is online here.Also from the God Machine this week:* Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) declared 2016 as the "Year of the Bible" in his state. Two weeks ago, the Republican governor declared 2017 will also be the "Year of the Bible" in Kentucky.* Court ruling in New Jersey: "A Muslim congregation that has waged a five-year battle against a New Jersey town for the right to build a mosque has moved "one step closer" to finally having a place to pray. A federal judge ruled that Bernards Township discriminated against the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge by requiring it to provide more parking spots for their proposed mosque than other places of worship in the town."* As many as 450 U.S. houses of worship "have offered to provide sanctuary or other assistance to undocumented immigrants, according to leaders of the Sanctuary Movement.... The congregations joining this network have more than doubled since the election of Donald J. Trump -- a rapid rebuttal to Mr. Trump's postelection promise to deport two million to three million unauthorized immigrants who he said have been convicted of crimes."* Jerry Falwell's Liberty University in Virginia continues to raise eyebrows: "Liberty University is planning to open a state-of-the-art shooting range on campus next fall as part of the conservative Evangelical Christian School's commitment to promoting gun ownership and firearm sports."