Eric Cantor

Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia speaking at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. Gage Skidmore via Flickr


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Eric Cantor’s surprising primary loss last night could be more than the end of his legislative career. It may result in a GOP that includes only Christians.

Cantor was the only Jewish member of the Republican party.  In fact, he was the only Republican on the Hill who didn’t identify with a Christian church. The rest of the GOP in both the House and Senate belong to a church that is Protestant, Catholic, or LDS (Mormon).

To add insult to injury, Cantor was on track to eventually being Speaker of the House. He would have been the first Jewish congressman to reach that position.

The Democrats in the House are largely Christian (including one Mormon). They also have members from other faiths including 21 Jews, two Buddhists, two Muslims, one Hindu, and one Unitarian-Universalist. There are also eight Democrats who do not identify with any religion.

Senate Democrats include Protestants, Catholics, Mormons, Jews, a couple with no religion, and one Buddhist.

Jewish representatives have long been more likely to be Democrats, but the GOP has rarely been completely without Jewish members. In the mid-1990s, Republican Jews included representatives John Miller (R-Wash.), Steve Schiff (R-New Mexico), Richard Zimmer (R-New Jersey), David Levy (R-New York), and Jon Fox (R-Penn.). But since 2001, the only Jewish Republican has been Cantor.

Cantor lost to David Brat, who attends St. Mary’s Catholic church in Richmond, Virginia. Bratt describes himself as “a man of deep faith.” Brat attended Hope College, a Christian liberal arts college, and Princeton Theological Seminary after “he felt the call.” He then earned his Ph.D. in economics from American University. He is currently an economics professor at Randolph-Macon college.

1 Comment

  1. I honestly think religion should stay out of congress. If a congress member is religious that’s fine but they should practice their religion within their personal lives not politically.

    A religion does not benefit everyone in a country. That’s why other countries that are almost entirely devoted to a religion often fall. What we need is just people who are both smart and understand what’s best for the country. religion held us back 500 years in technology and science because of the dark ages. We don’t need it doing any more damage than it already has. I have respect for religion but theres a time and a place for it that shouldn’t be in our congress.

    Another problem is the whole democrat vs republican thing. It’s almost the same as having a religion in charge of congress. You have one group with their own set of beliefs and ideology and you have another group that has another set of beliefs and ideology.

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