home
RSS
Report tracks explosion of religious lobbying in Washington
A new report finds that religious groups engaged in lobbying or advocacy around Washington employ at least 1,000 people.
November 22nd, 2011
12:29 PM ET

Report tracks explosion of religious lobbying in Washington

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.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Foreign policy • Politics

soundoff (744 Responses)
  1. MashaSobaka

    Religion needs to stay the heck out of government. Anyone who disagrees should go read the story about the Afghan woman who can either die in jail or marry her rapist. Do you want that for this country? If not, keep the religious lobbyists under control!

    November 22, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
  2. john316

    It's time to tax the Cults........big and small.......it's pathetic......

    November 22, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • epicjourney

      Taxing the 'cults' as you say will end up being a net deficit to the treasury. The benefits provided by their welfare work cannot be matched by Gov't spening, not without a large increase in that spending. You may end up having a larger deficit by taxing the churches after all is said and done. Be careful what you wish for.

      November 22, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • MaryM

      Epic, IF religion wants to PLAY then RELIGION CAN PAY, Just like the REST OF AMERICANS

      November 22, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • Leaf on the Wind

      Epicjourney, if churches have to start paying taxes, will they stop doing charity work? I give money and time to charities, and I pay taxes.

      November 22, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      I guess epicjourney isn't a conservative since he states that he's pro welfare.

      November 22, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  3. us1776

    And herein lies the source of all the problems.

    Churches and religious organizations should be barred from lobbying. Period.

    We have separation of church and state. A brilliant foresight by our Founding Fathers. And we need to enforce it continuously.

    .

    November 22, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • epicjourney

      Hm, maybe you should be barred from lobbying. No more emails or snail mail to your congressman for you!!

      November 22, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • MaryM

      Epic, IF religion wants to PLAY then RELIGION CAN PAY, Just like the REST OF AMERICANS

      November 22, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
  4. Badly-Bent

    Great, our own Taliban!

    November 22, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • us1776

      Agreed.

      All this lobbying by churches is why the GOP has morphed into the American Taliban.

      November 22, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      That Christian terrorist who tried to assassinate the President would be greeted as a hero at the Republican National Convention and Taliban headquarters.

      November 22, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  5. TRH

    I didn't know this.

    Religion is dangerous, especially as adhered to by fanatics and evangelicals. Worship whatever mythical god you wish; just keep it in your church or temple or whatever; keep it out of politics; and please keep it out of my face!

    November 22, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • Dave in Portland

      ^ liked

      November 22, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  6. GOP Hate America

    Gross

    November 22, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  7. There are no gods!

    Religion has no place in this society period. I want religion to be abolished and for people to actually study and explore our world and universe instead of leave it up to some made up gods. There are no gods! jesus is a lie!

    November 22, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • epicjourney

      ok, keep telling yourself that maybe you will eventually believe it.

      November 22, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • MaryM

      There, AGREED

      November 22, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • Leaf on the Wind

      You may be right, there may be no gods, but more than 90% of the world's population believe in one form of god or another. They all have a right to believe what they want, they just don't have the right to impose laws that are based on those beliefs. Religious groups lobbying congress do not have the right to be tax-exempt, since they are participating in the political process.

      November 22, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
  8. Leland Williams Jr.

    In 1970's $$, it's gone down about 200%. In terms of who is listening, that's gone down 5,000%. http://www.endtimesurvivalguide.com

    November 22, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
  9. MaryM

    Fine religion, you want to play politics, PAY THE TAXES OR GET THE **** OUT OF WASHINGTON.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • epicjourney

      Maybe your attention is better spent railing against the Corporate and union influences in Gov't, that is where the real corruption exists that actually causes policies that are harmful to the 99%

      November 22, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
    • MaryM

      EPIC, Maybe YOU and YOUR RELIGION SHOULD GET THE **** OUT OF WASHINGTON OR BE TAXED.

      November 22, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      Ya. Let those priests have their little boys.

      November 22, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • earl

      LMFAO THIS IS FUNNY LADY LIVE WITH LIVING COLOR

      November 22, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • earl

      GodofLunaticsCreation
      DONT LET THAT GUY NEAR YOUR CHILDERN

      November 22, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      Earl what made you think I was a man of the cloth?

      November 22, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  10. Brad

    Imagine if these people spent their money helping other people, instead of lobbying to stick their nose where it does not belong . . .

    November 22, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • epicjourney

      Do you have any idea how much welfare work religious organizations do? It is well worth the tax revenue to have them do it (which they can do at a fraction of the cost it takes Gov't to provide those same services) than Gov't. The unintended consequences of removing tax exempt may mean they have less money to perform their primary role – serving the communities, which means Gov't will need to step in which will require even more tax revenue to pay for.

      November 22, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • MaryM

      Epic, if religion want to play politics they RELIGION CAN PAY THE TAXES.

      November 22, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      Look up the history of Mother Theresa. She was a sadomasochist who took money from the poor and gave it to the church. She enjoyed watching people suffer and wanted to be around it since she felt it brought her closer to God.

      November 22, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • epicjourney

      Jeepers, what a cynical interpretation. You come up with that yourself??

      November 22, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • NJBob

      @epicjourney - I have serious doubts as to whether they can do it more cheaply than government. Even if they can, they rarely do it without discriminating in hiring practices. Lastly, they are free to deny services to whomever they like, such as atheists who refuse to pray with them. Such denial of services is something the government would never be permitted to do.

      November 22, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      Get on your knees or no food for you.

      November 22, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
  11. Ted

    Politicians – one step above criminals or one step below. They'll take anyones money and make up like they care. I'm still hoping some one Nukes the capitol when the MRs and kids are out of town!!!

    November 22, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
  12. Drinker

    There should be NONE. No wonder this country keeps getting worse. Actually, there should be no lobbying at all.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  13. John B

    Now you know what your donations go for. Remember that the next time they pass the plate.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
  14. Matt

    Religion: Get out of politics or be taxed!

    November 22, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
  15. Morvin

    12 percent of the religious advocacy organizations are Jewish, yet Jews comprise only 1.7 percent of the US population. Hmmmmm!

    November 22, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
  16. Ben

    funny, separation of church and state but these fairy tale believing fools still spend billions on lobbying. Maybe we're the fools for actually thinking we can keep this religious nonsense out of our government.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • Barry G.

      Or are we foolish for thinking that we can prevent our leaders from taking money for favors?

      November 22, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
    • Brasil1958

      I'm betting the "separation between church and state" gets overturned before "the right to bear arms" and when that happens I'll be living in Tierra del fuego to live a few more days before the radiation arrives there.

      November 22, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • Ted

      Barry said it right, they will take your money, won't do a dam thing but taKE YOUR MONEY.

      November 22, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  17. Dean

    Overly religious folks crack me up. Live the best life you can and let God judge.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • earl

      I AGREE WITH JIMMY DEAN 🙂 🙂 🙂

      November 22, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
  18. Barry G.

    Why should our leaders receive any money?

    They are paid quite well, and they receive a lifetime pension.

    They should not receive a dime.

    Did you see the lead story on Sixty Minutes, which aired two weeks ago, about how both parties are getting extremely wealthy, by using insider information.

    That's why this country is in trouble.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • earl

      I AGREE WITH BERRY WHITE

      November 22, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • Brasil1958

      Yes....the people who are supposed to monitor illegal activities are participating in it themselves. US politicians should not criticize Mexican politics...they are just as corrupt and hide it under the guise of "freedom".

      November 22, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  19. J.C.

    The invisible flying spaghetti monster frowns upon this waste of time and energy.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • earl

      WOW ANOTHER ON LSD THATS TWO IN A ROW

      November 22, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
    • Ben

      Pastafarianism somehow not listed in this article. I claim religious bias.

      November 22, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      What drug do you take to pretend your drinking a 2,000 year old Jew's blood and cannibalizing his body with your ped0 pals?

      November 22, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • earl

      GodofLunaticsCreation
      YOUR ON DRUGS WITH THAT COME BACK NOOB DRINK SOME H8TERADE AND HIGH FIVE YOUR FACE YOU TEABAG JEW

      November 22, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      Oh earl. You are a good laugh. Just wind you up and watch you go.

      November 22, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • earl

      YOUR FUNNY MAN AND NOOB PRESS YOUR BUTTONS AND WATCH YOU GLOW I WANT YOU TO EXPRESS YOUR HATE THAT YOUR PARENTS NEVER HELD YOU AS A CHILD

      November 22, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
    • Ray Martinez

      R'amen!

      November 22, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • Dave in Portland

      earl – a prime example of why meth is bad for you...

      November 22, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      R'amen indeed.

      November 22, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
  20. tfbuckfutter

    Aw goddammit.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • Leaf on the Wind

      ROFLMAO! Best comment on this thread.

      November 22, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Advertisement
About this blog

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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.