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Religious Affiliation of U.S. Presidents
Keep in mind that in the table above, the % of the U.S. population for religious groups are current figures. Religious groups have had much different proportions at various time in U.S. history.
One of the most over-represented religious groups among U.S. presidents is Unitarianism. Despite merging with Universalism in the 1960s, the combined proportion of Unitarian Universalists in the U.S. population is just 0.2% of the population (one in every 500 Americans). Yet there have been 4 Unitarian presidents.
Another over-represented religious group among U.S. presidents is Dutch Reformed, by virtue of having two U.S. presidents, yet having only a small number of people left in the country who identify themselves as Reformed. The contemporary heir to the Dutch Reformed churches is the "Reformed Church in America," which has about 300,000 members in the U.S. and Canada. (Alternatively, one might count only a single president as Dutch Reformed, if Theodore Roosevelt is counted as an Episcopalian -- sources differ on this subject. Even just one Dutch Reformed president would constitute statistical over-representation.)
After that, Disciples of Christ, Episcopalians, and Quakers have also had representation in the White House far outstripping their proportion of the U.S. population.
On the other end of the scale, the most under-represented religious group is Catholicism, which has had only one U.S. president (John F. Kennedy), despite making up 25% of the current U.S. population. Also under-represented are Baptists, whose proportion of the U.S. population (18%) is twice their proportion of U.S. presidents (9.5%).
Major religious groups in the U.S. which have never had a U.S. president include: Lutherans (about 5% of the U.S. population); Jews (about 2% of the U.S. population); Latter-day Saints (2%); Pentecostals (about 1.8 %); Muslims (approx. 1 to 1.5%); Eastern Orthodox (approx. 0.5%); and Churches of Christ (1%).
Major Sources: Kane, Joseph Nathan. Facts About the Presidents (Fourth Edition). New York: The H. W. Wilson Co. (1981), pg. 360; DeGregorio, William A. The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents (Second Edition). New York: Dembner Books (1989)
Dallas Morning News: Bush, fellow Methodists don't all see eye to eye - includes references to Adherents.com presidential statistics
Web page created 20 July 1999. Last modified 7 July 2006.