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Guess: in the past decade, has the Congressional Prayer Caucus grown or shrunk?

The Congressional Prayer Caucus is a group of members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate who are interested in maintaining government sponsorship of religious prayer, and who are organized to “use the legislative process – both through sponsorship of affirmative legislation and through opposition to detrimental legislation – to assist the nation and its people in continuing to draw upon and benefit from this essential source of our strength and well-being. Members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus also work together to preserve the presence of religion, faith, and morality in the marketplace of ideas.”

Quick — make a guess: is the Congressional Prayer caucus bigger or smaller nowadays compared to its size over the last decade?

Got your guess nailed down? Now check out the actual trend:

Number of Members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, 2007-2015

(Data from source | source | source | source | source)

Did you guess corectly? I didn’t. I thought that in the past five years, the share of members of Congress who would participate in the Congressional Prayer Caucus would have gone down, a reflection of the declining religiosity of the U.S. populace. But I was wrong. While the share of non-religious people in the United States of America has markedly grown in recent years, the size of the Congressional Prayer Caucus is essentially as good in the 114th Congress as it was in the 113th Congress, which is in turn much better than it had been in earlier years. If you believe in government officials using the tools of government to encourage and practice Christian prayer, then this trend should cheer you. If you believe in the separation of church and state, the difference between trends in popular opinion and trends in elite caucusing should be alarming.

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