On Jan. 3, 14 ELCA members were sworn in as members of the 110th U.S. Congress. Three are senators, all Democrats: Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Byron L. Dorgan of North Dakota and Tim Johnson of South Dakota.
Of the 11 representatives, seven are Democrats and four, Republicans: Lois Capps (D-Calif., 23rd); John R. Carter (R-Texas, 31st); Norman D. Dicks (D-Wash., 6th); Stephanie Herseth (D-S.D., at large); Darlene Hooley (D-Ore., 5th); Tom Latham (R-Iowa, 4th); Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif., 16th); Collin C. Peterson (D-Minn., 7th); Thomas E. Petri (R-Wis., 6th); Bill Shuster (R-Pa., 9th); and Tim Walz (D-Minn., 1st).
Also two Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod members will serve as representatives: Dave Reichert (R-Wash., 8th) and John M. Shimkus (R-Ill., 19th); and two Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod members: Michelle Bachman (R-Minn., 6th) and Ron Kind (D-Wis., 3rd).
The 18 Lutherans among the 535 members of Congress makes the denomination underrepresented at 4.6 percent, relative to their population, according to Albert Menendez, a writer and researcher who has been tracking the religious affiliation of members of Congress since 1972, when 16 were Lutheran. Three other mainline Protestant denominations—Methodist, Presbyterian and Episcopal—accounted for 43 percent in his earliest report. This year their total is less than half that, or 20 percent but still a better representation than in the general population.
Menendez’s report also shows that while the number of Lutherans has held steady, their political affiliation has flipped from 2-to-1 Republican in 1972 to 2-to-1 Democrat today.
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