Thankful for the fruits of religious freedom

Come next year, Congress will not be as Christian as it used to be. By that, I mean the 113th Congress will have fewer professing Christians than the 112th because voters have chosen to send more non-Christians to the Senate and the House. It is, however, a very small change.

Here are the three most notable changes:

Hawaii elected  Mazie Hirono to the Senate. Hirono, who previously served as a representative, becomes the first Buddhist member of the Senate. She also will be the first Asian-American woman in the Senate.

Hawaii’s 2nd congressional district will be sending the first Hindu to Congress, Tulsi Gabbard. The new Representative also is an Iraq War veteran. She will be taking over the seat vacated by Hirono.

Arizona’s new 9th congressional district elected Kyrsten Sinema, who will be the only member of Congress who is religiously “unaffiliated,” according to the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life. Sinema also is the first openly bisexual member of Congress.

All three are Democrats.

Congress will still be predominantly Christian, with 299 (56.4 percent) members identifying with Protestant groups, 161 (22 percent) calling themselves Catholics, and five (1 percent) connected to Orthodox Christianity.

Other religious representation will be: Jewish, 32; Mormon, 15; Don’t Know/Refused, 10; Buddhist, 3; Muslim, 2; Hindu, 1, Unitarian Universalist, 1; and Unaffiliated 1.

So how should we Christians react to this diversity?

As a follower of Christ, I have a desire for everyone in the world to know Christ and to have an ongoing relationship with God through Christ. As a result, I wish all of the members of Congress were followers of Christ, as well.

Despite that wish, I have a deep respect for people of other faiths. We all are God’s children, created in God’s image and for God’s purposes.

I am thankful this Thanksgiving that I live in a nation that has no religious test for holding public office. I suspect some of those who disagree with me on religious matters will make wonderful members of Congress and will acquit themselves honorably. As Scripture says, God has put them there. And the United States, God has done so through the votes of the people.

These are some of the fruits of religious liberty. We are blessed. We should be thankful.

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