WASHINGTON — When Sen. Harry Reid becomes Senate majority leader next year, he will be the most powerful Mormon in Washington.
But that reign could be short-lived if Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney makes a bid for the presidency in 2008 and wins. Romney is considering a run in what is expected to be a wide-open field.
Reid is a Democrat from Nevada and Romney is a Republican. Though they have chosen different political stripes, they are bonded in a faith whose leaders encourage members to become active in public life.
Mormons are heeding the call. Typically conservative, they are more politically active than average Americans, according to a recent study. And the 15 Mormons in Congress is a slightly greater representation than the religious group's percentage of the general population.
Another interesting snippit:
Quin Monson, a political science professor at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, says Romney's faith would likely matter to only a minority of voters.
"If a Mormon can be elected as governor of Massachusetts and a Mormon can be Senate majority leader, certainly a Mormon can be president," he said.
A religious minority, Mormons represent less than 2% of the American population with 5.5 million members across the country. The church, which claims a total of 12 million members, is one of the fastest growing faiths in the world.
Roughly 80% of Americans consider themselves Christians, with Protestants making up about half of that group. About a quarter are Catholic.
Like Mormons, Jews and Episcopalians are also overrepresented in Congress. For example, Episcopalians make up less than 1% of the American population but 8% of Congress.