By Marissa Farrell
Christian Action League
February 4, 2013
For many, religious practice and faith play a major role in both their personal and professional lives. Those elected to represent us in the North Carolina General Assembly are no exception. The breakdown of the religious backgrounds of the newly-elected 170 members of the 2013-2014 Legislature demonstrates how religiously diverse our state.
In North Carolina, the majority of representatives and senators practice a Christian-based faith. Out of 170 elected officials in the General Assembly, 161 (94.7 percent) align with either the Catholic Church or a Protestant denomination. That leaves just 5.3 percent of elected legislators who either opted out of answering the faith inquiry from the Christian Action League, or who have a non-Christian faith background. According to the most recent study done by The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 78.4 percent of adult Americans align with a Christian church[i].
A recent Gallup Poll[ii] shows, North Carolina is tied with Arkansas for having the fifth highest percentage of Protestants statewide. Additionally, The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life observed that 51 percent of North Carolinians identify with some sort of Protestant faith[iii]. More specifically, 26 percent affiliate with an Evangelical Protestant denomination. The reported faith backgrounds of state representatives and senators mirror this fact. Out of 120 House members, 31.7 percent are either Baptist or Southern Baptist. More than one in five (22.5 percent) identify themselves as Christian without a particular denomination. Nearly one-fifth (19.2 percent) aligns with the Methodist Church. Fewer than 10 percent belong to the Presbyterian (7.5 percent), Episcopal (5 percent), or Lutheran (4.2 percent) churches. Other Protestant backgrounds include Pentecostal and Mormon at 0.8 percent each.
In the Senate, 46 out of 50 members identify as Christian. The most represented denomination is the Baptist community at 30 percent. Self-identifying Christians in the Senate make up 24 percent. Methodists account for 12 percent, while Presbyterians and Episcopals are tied at 10 percent each. There are also two percent Anglican and Orthodox each.
The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life surveyed North Carolina residents and calculated that 9 percent identify with the Catholic Church, compared to 24 percent nationwide. In the North Carolina House, 4.2 percent of members are Catholic as are two percent in the Senate.
The percentage of members affiliated with the Jewish faith in the Tar Heel Legislature is 1.2 percent, compared to the state percentage of less than 0.5 percent and two percent nationally.
Other notable faith backgrounds in the General Assembly are 1.2 percent Quaker, 0.6 percent Unitarian and 1.2 percent Moravian. Overall, 1.2 percent of members did not participate in the Christian Action League’s faith inquiry.
[i] The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. “Report 1: Religious Affiliation, Summary of Key Findings.” http://religions.pewforum.org/reports
[ii] Jones, Jeffrey. “Tracking Religious Affiliation, State by State.” http://www.gallup.com/poll/12091/tracking-religious-affiliation-state-state.aspx
[iii] The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. http://religions.pewforum.org/maps#