National Lutheran News

112th Congress opens with new and returning Lutheran representation

Twenty-six members of the 112th U.S. Congress are self-described Lutherans. Eleven Lutherans in the new Congress are Democrats; 15 are Republicans. The 112th Congress was convened on January 5, 2011.

Sixteen members of the new Congress are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), including three in the U.S. Senate and 13 in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to staff with the ELCA advocacy offices in Washington.

Sen. Byron Dorgan, North Dakota, did not run for re-election in 2010. The citizens of the state elected Gov. John Hoeven as its junior senator.

In addition, six U.S. Representatives, including three who are newly elected, are members of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Three are members of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, including newly-elected Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.

Three returning senators are members of the ELCA: Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Tim Johnson, D-S.D., and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. One ELCA member in the Senate, Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., did not seek re-election this year and retired.

A change in the make-up of Congress

In the House, Rick Berg, R-N.D., who was elected in November, is the newest ELCA member in Congress. He joins 11 returning representatives who are ELCA members: Lois Capps, D-Calif.; John Carter, R-Texas; Norman Dicks, D-Wash.; Martin Heinrich, D-N.M.; Tom Latham, R-Iowa; Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif.; Collin Peterson, D-Minn.; Thomas Petri, R-Wis.; Chellie Pingree, D-Maine; Bill Shuster, R-Pa.; Diane Black, R-Tenn.; and Tim Walz, D-Minn.

“Our Lutheran perspective is that government is one place we find God active in our common life — preserving order, protecting creation, helping people struggling with hunger and poverty, and building peace.”

The LCMS members elected to the House included returning members Erik Paulsen, R-Minn.; Dave Reichert, R-Wash.; John Shimkus, R.-Ill.; and Cynthia Lummis, R.-Wyo. Newly-elected members are Cory Gardner, R-Colo.; Larry Bucshon, R-Ind.; and Nan Hayworth, R-N.Y. Debbie Halvorson, D-Ill., an LCMS member, was the lone incumbent representative to lose a seat in the 2010 election.

Ron Kind, D-Wis., and Michelle Bachmann, R-Minn., are the two WELS members of the House of Representatives.

“We are looking forward to greeting both the new and returning Lutheran members,” said the Rev. Andrew D. Genszler, director of advocacy, ELCA Washington Office. “Lutheran members bring a sense of the importance of public service and the vocation of public office. Our Lutheran perspective is that government is one place we find God active in our common life — preserving order, protecting creation, helping people struggling with hunger and poverty, and building peace.”

Overall, Lutherans are under-represented in proportion to the memberships of other denominations, while Methodists, Roman Catholics, and Episcopalians are over-represented. Baptists of various affiliations are even more under-represented than Lutherans.

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