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. CdnJIm

    Are they using tax-deductable donations to further their political activities? If it acts like a business tax it like a business, tax it like a business.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  2. independent

    Take away their tax-exempt status.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  3. Mike

    Great. Just what we need- more lobbyists. Maybe Grover Norquist will find religion and release his hostages.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  4. Bob D Iowa

    The GOP ≠ God’s Ordained Politicians.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
  5. Pat


    November 22, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
  6. CirrusSR22

    Just be patient. It will happen soon. By the way, they also will be eliminated for ever.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
  7. JEM

    It was from our Chapels that came the War-on-Drugs, War-on-Alcohol (prohibition, Blue Laws and the Comstock Laws.
    It is at least partly lobbying from the Chapels that the US involves itself in the Middle East on the side of Israel.

    Religion has brought the US one set of bad laws after another. It is a shame that evangelical Christians can't learn from
    the Amish and stop trying to force their will on others.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
  8. Sal

    Down with all the right wing evangelical christians too! They are all a bunch of hypocrites!

    November 22, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
  9. CirrusSR22

    Well said Eric!

    November 22, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
  10. Dave

    Tax these morons

    November 22, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  11. Pan3


    November 22, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
  12. Sal

    Corporate greed is alive and well in America! What ever became of the family values repug politicians? 

    November 22, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
  13. Ray

    if churches and religious organizations want to lobby and get involved in politics, they should start PAYING TAXES like the rest of us. If you aren't paying, shut the hell up.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • Nick

      I agree! Tax the church if they want to involve themselves into politics and create laws that affect our citizens.

      November 22, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • Libtaardss

      Good...so the 47% who don't pay taxes can no longer have a voice...

      November 22, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  14. The Jackdaw

    Religious people feverous enough to speak out tend to be the dumbest and most opinionated. These undereducated meat puppets need to go home and study for their GED exams.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • JEM

      Anyone who wishes to impose their will on others using the power of the state as a club is dangerous and opinionated. Religion doesn't make one better or worse in this regard.

      November 22, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
    • JEM

      It was the pursuit of religious principles that led to the transforming of the "Land of the Free" into the worlds "Prison Nation". Laws inspired by Christian Values have led to the ruin of all that once made this a great nation.

      November 22, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
  15. Unanamous

    This world needs less religion to succeed.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  16. Reasonably

    Let's hear it for the new Theocracy! << said sarcastically. If they can lobby they should be taxed. Separation not lobby-nation.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
  17. Eric

    "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's" - If they are lobbying, they better be paying taxes!

    November 22, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • Doc M

      Yes, they absolutely should be paying taxes...tax all churches!

      November 22, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • hannibal123

      definitely time to revoke tax exempt status

      November 22, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
  18. Sal

    Another point, religion is the root of all evil in the world today! Just take a look around and see what's going on in the world today and for the past thousand or so years! 

    November 22, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • S.R.

      You are so right!!!

      November 22, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  19. madboots

    Our country's corruption is implicit in the legality of lobbying our elected officials to do anything other than what we elected them to do. Why do we bother with elections? Just let the rich buy their positions.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
  20. Robert

    So, remind me again why we don't tax religious organizations?

    November 22, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
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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.