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Forty United Methodists who are members of the 115th Congress will be working in the U. S. Capitol in Washington. Photo by Kevin McCoy, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Photo by Kevin McCoy, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Forty United Methodists who are members of the 115th Congress will be working in the U. S. Capitol in Washington.

40 United Methodists in new U.S. Congress

By Albert J. Menendez
Jan. 12, 2017 | WASHINGTON (UMNS)

Forty members of the 115th Congress – just beginning its work in Washington – are United Methodists. That’s a decline by three from the 114th Congress.

In the Senate, United Methodists remain at 10. The number of United Methodists in the House has decreased from 33 to 30.

But the number of United Methodists in the Senate could fall by one soon. Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions from Alabama, a member of Ashland Place United Methodist Church in Mobile, is President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to be U.S. Attorney General.

Sessions’ appointment is subject to Senate approval, and the Senate Judiciary Committee has been holding hearings on the matter this week.   

Three newly elected United Methodists will serve in the 115th Congress: Sen. John Kennedy, R-La.; Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla.; and Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo. Crist is a former governor of Florida and Cheney is the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Republicans outnumber Democrats 27 to 13 among United Methodists in Congress.  The small partisan decline from 72 percent Republican in the previous Congress to 67 percent in the new Congress owes mostly to the retirement of five House Republicans.

Texas provides the largest number of United Methodists in Congress with eight, followed by five from Georgia, and three each from Kansas and Ohio. Both U.S. Senators from Georgia are United Methodists and Republicans.

The South and Border South states have 25 United Methodists in Congress, while eight members represent states of the Midwest and six represent states of the far West. There is one United Methodist member from New England. There is at least one United Methodist member in 21 states, while 29 states have none.

United Methodists remain in third place in congressional religious affiliations, behind Catholics and Baptists – the same ordering since 1994.

United Methodist governors include Republicans Phil Bryant of Mississippi, Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Rick Scott of Florida, as well as Democrat Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania.

Haley, who attends Mount Horeb United Methodist Church in Lexington, South Carolina, has been named U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, subject to Senate confirmation.

ABOUT THIS LIST

This tabulation is based on the religious affiliations reported by Pew Research Center and CQ/Roll Call. It includes only United Methodists, not members of the African Methodist Episcopal Church or other Methodist groups.

Also, note that Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) is now listed as “Protestant unspecified” rather than United Methodist.

Here, drawn from religious affiliations as reported by Pew Research Center and CQ/Roll Call, is the full breakdown of United Methodists in the 115th Congress:

Ten senators: Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.; Tom Cotton, R-Ark.; Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.; David Perdue, R-Ga.; Pat Roberts, R-Kan.; John Kennedy, R-La.; Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.; Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.; Richard Burr, R-N.C.; Rob Portman, R-Ohio.

30 House members: Doris Matsui, D-Calif.; Mark Takano, D-Calif.; Mike Coffman, R-Colo.; Bill Posey, R-Fla.; Charlie Crist, D-Fla.; Rick Allen, R-Ga.; Earl L. Carter, R-Ga.; Rob Woodall, R-Ga.; David Loebsack, D-Iowa; Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan.; Kevin Yoder, R-Kan.; Thomas Massie, R-Ky.; Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md.; Bennie Thompson, D-Miss.; Emanuel Cleaver II, D-Mo.; Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio; Steve Stivers, R-Ohio; Tom Cole, R-Okla.; Phil Roe, R-Tenn.; Joe Barton, R-Texas; John Culberson, R-Texas; Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas; Kay Granger, R-Texas; Gene Green, D-Texas; Sam Johnson, R-Texas; Pete Olson, R-Texas; Pete Sessions, R-Texas; Derek Kilmer, D-Wash.; Rick Larsen, D-Wash.; and Liz Cheney, R-Wyo.

Menendez is research director for Americans for Religious Liberty.

News media contact: Vicki Brown, news editor, newsdesk@umcom.org or 615-742-5469.