National Lutheran News

Lutherans in 113th Congress decrease, diversity increases

Religious diversity is the theme of the 113th Congress, with the nation’s first Buddhist Senator (Mazie Hirono) and Hindu Representative (Tulsi Gabbard), both from Hawaii, being sworn in on January 3, 2013. Also, according to the Pew Forum on Faith and Public Life, for the first time, a member of Congress listed her religion as “none” (Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona).

At the same time, Lutherans saw their numbers on Capitol Hill shrink from 25 to 23, although the number in the Senate increased from four to five. (This total number does not include Rep. Michele Bachmann, who changed her membership since the last election from the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod to “non-denominational Christian.”)

Lutherans returning to the U.S. Senate were Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). Ron Johnson is a WELS member, while the other three are all members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Newly elected Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) is also a member of the ELCA.

Lutherans in the House

In the House of Representatives, 11 members belong to ELCA congregations, six belong to Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) churches, and one, Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) attends a WELS congregation.

Religious diversity is the theme of the 113th Congress.

The LCMS members are Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.), Larry Buschon (R-Ind.), John Shimkus (R-Ill.), and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.). All were re-elected in November, while one LCMS member of the 112th Congress was not re-elected.

ELCA members elected to the 113th Congress are Tom Petri (R-Wis.), Denny Heck (D-Wash.), Diane Black (R-Tenn.), John Carter (R-Texas), Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), Tim Walz (D-Minn.), Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), Tom Latham (R-Iowa), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), and Lois Capps (D-Calif.). Six of these ELCA members are Democrats; five are Republicans.

One ELCA member, Rep. Rick Berg of North Dakota, lost his contest for the Senate to Heidi Heitkamp. Two other Lutheran members of Congress retired.

Not surprisingly, the Minnesota delegation includes the most Lutherans, with three. Other members of the Minnesota House delegation are Rick Nolan (Roman Catholic), Bachmann, Keith Ellison (Muslim), Betty McCollum (Roman Catholic), and John Kline (Methodist).

The number of Roman Catholics in the 113th Congress increased by seven (or 30 percent), while Protestant and Jewish communities saw decreases. There continue to be 15 Mormon members of Congress in 2013.

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