Friday, January 06, 2017

How Many Christians Are In The New Congress?

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The 115th Congress of the United States convened yesterday.

Pew Research, among others, note that while the Republicans control both the Congress and the White House, American "government is more divided than ever."

Pew also reported this week that "nine in ten members of the incoming Congress consider themselves Christian."

How does this relate to past Congress' ...will the fact that 90.7% of Congress claims to be "Christian" make a difference?

And I want to share an encouraging letter from a young 27-year-old minister to an older more mature minister. It is a profile of true biblical Christianity. And there is a difference between claiming it and living it.

Pew says, "The 115th Congress looks a lot like the 114th" with a few changes.

Here is an overview of the religious profile of those whom America has chosen to represent them in government:

Pew says the 115th has 7 fewer Protestants than the 114th---299 compared with 306.

Among denominations, Baptists had the biggest losses (down 7 seats) followed by Anglicans and Episcopalians (down 6 seats).

Nondenominational Protestants gained 3 seats, Protestants in the "unspecified/other" category also gained 6 seats.

There are 4 more Catholics in the new Congress (168) than in the previous one.

Mormons lost 3 seats bringing their number down to 13.

Overall, there are 6 fewer Christians in the 115th Congress than there were in the 114th (485 vs 491).

Among non-Christian religious groups, Jews and Hindus had the biggest gains, with an increase of 2 seats each.

Jews, who make up 2% of the US adult population, hold 30 seats in the new Congress (6%) up from 28 seats in the 114th.

The Hindus rose from 1 to 3, and the number of Buddhists rose from 2 to 3.

The number of Muslims in Congress stayed the same. Rep. Andre Carson, D-Ind. and Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn. remain in the current Congress. However, Keith Ellison is considering running for chair of the Democratic Party and has said if elected he will resign from Congress.

Pew found that while both Democrat and Republican congressman were overwhelmingly Christian, the Democrats are more "diverse" in its religious identifications.

Among the 293 Republicans, all but 2 identify as Christians. There are 2 Jewish Republicans--Lee Zeldin of New York and David Kustoff of Tennessee---both in the House of Representatives.

The Christian Post notes that Hemant Mehta, who writes a fairly widely read blog titled "The Friendly Atheist," is arguing that there are actually more "non-theist members of Congress than the numbers imply."

He says, "There's very little doubt in my mind that there are more unaffiliated, non-religious Americans in Congress, but they dare not say so because it would be political suicide where they to come from."

He's probably right. Politicians have been known to mislead their constituents.

Mehta says, "In the past several years, pressure to stay in the closet has been strong...but not everywhere in the country. Maybe we'll soon see more candidates at least not declaring a religious affiliation (even if they don't say 'Unaffiliated')."

Atheists would, of course, consider that progress.

And it's interesting how easily they admit that "of course atheists lie to get elected." The end always justifies the means to the secular progressive. They always choose preference over principle.

It's also interesting that the percentage of self-professing "Christians" in Congress is higher than the general population percentage of Christians.

The Post notes that "The share of US adults who describe themselves as Christians has been declining for decades, but the US Congress is about as Christian today as it was in the early 1960's."

Here's the take-away from these facts

There is, and always has been a difference between those who "claim" to be Christian and those who actually strive to live out their life and beliefs in accordance with Scripture---God's Word---with the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

This is why Jesus gave such a stern warning---straight talk---to "Christians" in Matthew 21-23:

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

With the rise of the so-called "religious Left" under the leadership of Jim Wallis, Tony Compollo, Rob Bell and others, there is a segment of people in our country who claim, sometimes with great conviction, to be "Christian."

Yet while identifying as Christian, they choose to deny the teachings of Scripture for cultural convenience. It is this that Jesus was addressing---reminding us all that it is only those who have done the "will of My Father in heaven" who will be told "well done...enter in."

Embracing the Truth of God's Word is fundamental to doing the "will of My Father..." in fact, it's far more important than casting out demons, or "relating" to the world in order to influence them.

The legal definition of marriage (and legalized abortion), among other issues, have highlighted the division within the so-called Christian community.

On the one hand there are those who stand, often at great personal cost, for the clear teaching of the Bible on the definition of marriage.

On the other hand there are those who, while claiming to be "Christian" not only come to believe, but advocate that times have changed, the culture has changed---and all people "have a right to marry whom they love" because that is compassion and Christians must be compassionate. And welcoming. And inclusive.

While Wallis, Compollo, Bell and others travel the country advocating this kind of Christianity, there are others, celebrities with even greater influence, who also advocate that Christians deny the Truth of God's Word, and embrace the social and cultural changes demanded by activists.

Profile of true Christianity from a young minister

Pastor Louie Giglio is a good guy. Solid. He's been in the ministry for a number of years.

As a pastor he heads up the annual "Passion Conference" at the Atlanta Georgia Dome. About 40-50 thousand attend to hear teaching and participate in passionate worship. Many--perhaps most-- of the Christians are young people. It's a marvelous thing.

However, this year he has invited Carrie Underwood to lead in worship. Everybody loves Carrie. Right?

This week, a young Millennial---27 year old Christian leader Wesley Wildmon, director of outreach at American Family Association and social media coordinator for "Engage Magazine," wrote a letter to Louie.

The thoughtful and kind letter begins,

"Dear Louie, I hope this letter finds you well. I have been seeing this year's Passion Conference in the headlines and images from it flooding my social media feeds. It is amazing how God has used you and your wife in this way. Only God could bring your vision from a few students at your house to over 50,000 in the Georgia Dome...Myself and many others praise God for the platform He has given you!"

Wesley explains that he himself was impacted as he attended the event in the past, saying, "I experienced the impact of the Holy Spirit while I was there" and "my friends and I took many notes" from the teaching.

Then the young Christian leader says, "The most popular headline and image circling social media thus far this week show the performance of Carrie Underwood."

He continues: "Louie, if I can be completely transparent, I was very frustrated that you would allow her to help lead thousands of people in worship. My frustration quickly turned to disappointment and then to sadness."

Here's why. Wesley continues: "Carrie Underwood encourages and supports homosexual marriage, which the Word of God does not. In fact, it calls us to flee from it."

He's right. She does. And the Bible does not.

He reviews the biblical position on homosexual behavior and same-sex marriage, which Louie knows well, then reminds the older pastor--"Your approval gives thousands of unsaved or weak Millennials an untruthful image of what the Bible says about marriage," encouraging him to reconsider.

He says, "Louie, I am 27 years old and one of the most important ideas I have learned to cling to in my few short years of ministry is the difference between preference and principle."

Cling to principle above preference.

I strongly suggest you read Wesley's entire letter. It is a profile of a true Christian response.

As of yesterday afternoon, Louie has not responded to this respectful, kind, humble and sincere appeal from a young minister to an older more mature minister. I'll let you know if he does.

Something special and spiritual is beginning to happen in our country.

Be Informed. Be Discerning. Be Faithful.