Mainline Protestant denominations have steadily declined in membership for four decades in the U.S., so it was not surprising to learn recently that Protestants overall are losing, or have lost, their status as the nation’s religious majority. Growing religious diversity has meant also that in national politics the Democrats could nominate a Jewish vice presidential candidate in 2000 and a Catholic presidential hopeful this year.
Does this cap the end of dominant influence at top government levels for members of the historic Protestant denominations?
Not quite, says a Purdue University sociologist. “It is premature to conclude that Protestant affiliation has lost its political potency in Washington,” said James D. Davidson, the principal investigator of a statistical analysis completed with the help of two graduate students who tracked U.S. presidents and their key appointments from 1789 to 2003.