December 19, 2008

Leadership of the 111th Congress Reflects Religious Diversity

Historically, most of the top leaders in Congress have come from the larger Protestant denominational families, such as Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians and Presbyterians. Although the leadership on Capitol Hill today is much more diverse than it once was, Protestants still fill a substantial number of the top jobs in the 111th Congress. Indeed, the returning House majority leader, Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and president pro tempore of the Senate, Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), are all Baptists. Furthermore, the House majority whip, James Clyburn (D-S.C.), is a Methodist, and the Senate minority whip, Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), is a Presbyterian.

Catholics also are well-represented in congressional leadership positions. The returning speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and House minority leader, John Boehner (R-Ohio), are both Catholic. In the Senate, the returning majority whip, Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), also is Catholic.

Smaller religious groups also have a presence in the congressional leadership. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the newly chosen House Republican whip, is the only Jewish member in the 111th Congress in a top leadership position. In addition, the returning majority leader of the Senate, Harry Reid (D-Nev.), is the first Mormon to hold the top leadership post in either chamber of Congress.
Congressional leadership
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