Aug 22, 2013

Religion and politics in maps

There are 435 members of the US House of Representatives. Asked about their religious affiliation, the Congressman and women give 31 different answers.

BuzzFeed reports: 
There are 31 religions represented in the House, including 26 different sects of Christianity. Catholics make up the largest group with 136 members, followed by Baptists with 66 members, Methodists with 45 members, Anglicans/Episcopalians with 35 members, Presbyterians with 28 members, and Jews with 22 members. There is only one atheist.
Fourteen maps show some of the different religion's geographical representations.

There all sorts of interesting things that can be seen with these maps. With Lutheran representatives, for example, one finds they're mostly concentrated in areas with historically high emigration from Lutheran countries, specifically Germany and Sweden: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Central Texas. Wyoming didn't have any particular influx of Germans or Swedes, but did have a number of Finnish miners who settled there in the 1860s, and the Church of Finland is Lutheran.

There are also some outliers, where the Lutheran representative wouldn't likely be explained by historic emigration patterns, such as California, Washington, Maine. Maybe Colorado? This makes sense too, because Lutheranism isn't just an ethnic church -- both the church and the people who brought it to America have integrated into America, and can be found across the country. The map is, actually, a kind of good representation of Lutheranism in the US. It's an interestingly idiosyncratic way to look at that.

And there are 13 others, each which brings up interesting questions.

Why are there no Catholics in Congress from the Rocky Mountain states? Why aren't Presbyterians more regionally concentrated, like Baptists and Methodists? What explains the smattering of Midwestern Jewish representatives? How come there are no Episcopalians from along the Mississippi or in the plains states, though there are Episcopalian representatives from other areas of the South and West?