November 22nd, 2011
12:29 PM ET
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
(CNN) - Lobbying and advocacy by religious groups in Washington have exploded in recent decades, increasing fivefold since 1970 to become a nearly $400 million industry, a new Pew report finds.
More than 200 groups are doing faith-related lobbying and advocacy in the nation’s capital, compared to fewer than 40 in 1970, according to the report. Put together, the groups employ at least 1,000 people.
The report, released Monday by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life, found that religious groups spend $390 million a year to influence U.S. domestic and foreign policy.
“About one-in-five religious advocacy organizations in Washington have a Roman Catholic perspective (19%) and a similar proportion is evangelical Protestant in outlook (18%), while 12% are Jewish and 8% are mainline Protestant,” according to the report, called "Lobbying for the Faithful: Religious Advocacy Groups in Washington, D.C."
“But many smaller U.S. religious groups, including Baha’is, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs, also have established advocacy organizations in the Washington area,” the report said.
The number of Muslim groups engaged in lobbying and advocacy in Washington (17) is about the same as the number of mainline Protestant groups engaged in such work (16).
The report said that the most common domestic issues for religious groups are:
– The relationship between church and state;
– Civil rights and liberties for religious and other minorities;
– Bioethics and life issues, including abortion, capital punishment and end-of-life issues;
– Family/marriage issues, including definition of marriage, domestic violence and fatherhood initiatives.
The top international issues for religious groups are religious freedom, human rights, debt relief and other economic issues, and the promotion of peace and democracy, the report found.
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team and frequent posts from religion scholar and author Stephen Prothero.