Interesting new reports link religion, leadership and gender

On Tuesday, the New York Times put together a remarkable chart showing that, with the naming of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential running mate, there are now no white protestants among this country’s top leaders in Washington. Both Joe Biden and Paul Ryan are Catholics (as are six of the nine Supreme Court justices and House Speaker John Boehner), Mitt Romney and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are Mormon, and the three remaining justices are all Jewish. President Obama, of course, is Protestant, but is also African American.

For years, of course, American leadership has been dominated by white Anglo-Saxon protestants. According to the Times’ chart, there was not a non-Protestant or non-white Speaker of the House until 1961. The Supreme Court was dominated by white Protestants until 1994, when for the first time five of the nine justices were non-Protestant or non-white. And while there have been candidates from various backgrounds (namely Catholic) for president and vice president for decades, the number of non-whites or non-Protestants who’ve actually held those two jobs are still very few: Charles Curtis, Herbert Hoover’s vice president, was part Native American; John F. Kennedy was Catholic; Vice President Joe Biden is Catholic; and Barack Obama is African American. (Notably, this is the first year since 1964 that there has been a non-white or non-Protestant on the Republican party ticket.)

Some of these numbers, of course, are simply reflective of politics. George W. Bush, for instance, named three Supreme Court justices, all conservative Catholics, to their post. But surely, some of it is also a sign of progress that we as a country are more accepting of other faiths and other ethnicities. For the first time in history, none of the men at the top of either ticket, Democratic or Republican, are both white and Protestant. Read more



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