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. Happy

    There's a lot of money in "religion". This should come of no surprise. And I bet D.C. welcomes it with open arms and a great big cheesy smile. 🙂

    November 22, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  2. DeeNYC

    Church only cares about money, guns, and little boys. They are a pox on our society.

    November 22, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • TJ

      Don't forget about killing people in mother hubbards name, err i mean jeebus' name

      November 22, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
  3. lb309

    This seems like only half of a story. I don't think anybody is surprised that there are more lobbyists in Washington than there were 41 years ago.
    How does this compare with other types of lobby groups; is around 5% growth a lot? 1000 people and $390mil a year does not sound like much for a country of this size.
    The use of inflammatory words like exploded without giving some context seems irresponsible.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  4. Mr. T. Bag

    "Hello, we're with the CTL - the Christian Taliban Lobby. My name's Osama Bin Robertson.
    ...We want to ban all non-believers in America. Well not all of them, just the ones who don't agree with us."
    Jesus-hu Ahkbar.
    (end sarcasm)

    November 22, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • TJ


      November 22, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  5. Lee

    Tax all church activities that aren't charitable, especially political lobbying.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • The old man's cousin

      I second that!

      November 22, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
  6. tj

    you guys are all dummys. what the hell you guys mean by kicking them out. you guys forget who gives you that life you have right now. paying tax. comeon people the church people do more things to the people then what you people do to the people. just shut up all of you dummys. think about who give you the life you live now and the air you breath now.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • Jim

      It wasn't a church.

      November 22, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • DeeNYC

      wow, did you ever even go to school, your grammar is atrocious.

      November 22, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • TJ

      Grammar that bad gives TJ's all over a bad name. Now, put down the book of fairy tales and pick up the book of grammar.

      November 22, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • The old man's cousin

      JT (i bet you are dyslexic too and your real initials are jt): read your post...
      you guys all dummys. the hell you guys mean . you guys people the church people do more the people then what people do t the people. you dummys.
      think? Did you just type "think"??? Accident? Slip of the finger? How would you know what that means?

      My mother "give [sic] me the life I live now" Yes, the air issue: the air you breath now.. Air, hmm, earth? Atmosphere? Trees producing oxygen? Sun, light?

      November 22, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • You Can Hide in the Sun Till You See the Light

      hmmm.......another shining example of the education level and literacy of the "religious"

      November 22, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
  7. Nick

    Did you know there are over 30,000 lobyist in Washington? That would make the religious lobby less than 1% of them. BIG DEAL. Another shot at the religious community. Maybe PEW will give us the number representing unions as that would help put it in perspective.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • geoffrey

      The religious nuts can go straightt to hell!!!

      November 22, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • geoffrey

      Save your own soul fool! Save the drama for granmoma. The day I can't pay my mortgage, I'm going straight to a church to rob and destroy all memebers and take and damn ri

      November 22, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • DeeNYC

      Even 1% of you child molesters is too much.

      November 22, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • claybigsby

      then i guess that less than 1% woudn't mind paying taxes

      November 22, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
  8. geoffrey

    Grover Norquist is spreding the money around! The Kock Borthers are also on deck...Americans are stpuid people! They follow the deveil to hell for a tax break! This is why we're the laughing stock around the world! America is full of dumb people!....No progress

    November 22, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  9. mark

    The terrorism that is religion in America is out of control. The religious extremists want everyone to follow and be like them or they will punish you. The Muslim extremists don't hold a candle to the evangelicals in the US.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • Carol

      You made me think of a show where there was a Catholic Priest, A Jewish Rabbi, and a Muslim Imam decussing socially religious problems in the U.S. at this time. The Imam was the only one that thought that Churches, temples and mosques, should be taxed on all their vast real estate, but not on their charitable work.

      November 22, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • Dave in Portland

      If you really stop and think about it, the only difference between an EvanXtian and a radical Islamic me-go-boomer is where they were born and the mindset of their culture. The rabid fanaticism is in my opinion roughly equal.

      November 22, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
  10. TJ

    Time to start putting these religious nutjobs down like rabid dogs....... Maybe the politicians feeding them too!

    November 22, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • mark

      Well said.

      November 22, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  11. Jim

    Solve the country's debt issues by taxing the phony "God" business. It is a business. It always has been! Let their followers support them, not all taxpayers. Enough with the free ride. Separation of Church and State should mean that religious lobbying should be illegal.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • r-hope

      Unfortunately that separation will always be on paper...

      November 22, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
  12. SPLAT!~

    Hmmm, religious lobbying has steadily increased since the 1970's and the Congress has become increasingly disfunctional. Coincidence?~

    November 22, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  13. Bob D Iowa

    Bob Vander Putz (Family Leader) is not a church he is in it for perosonal gains he is also a leader in the Christial Tailban

    November 22, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • SPLAT!~

      Bobby VanderPutz is the anti-christ!~

      November 22, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  14. NJBob

    These religious groups are lobbying about how tax money should or should not be spent, but it's not their tax money. When they start paying taxes they get a voice. Either pay taxes or shut up.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • Marie

      Well said

      November 22, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  15. Tripp

    This is SO WRONG.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
  16. DonB

    What these people need to dois read their Bible and they will know that they are going to a place in the here-after they are not expecting as the Bible tells them to stay away from the evils of politics

    November 22, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • r-hope

      I Have read it through a number of times and didnt see that part.... where is that?

      November 22, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  17. Bob D Iowa

    It has become very clear that those that use Christ are only using him to serve themselves and nothing else. You can hide behind anything you want but you are totally transparent.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  18. Mark

    Religious groups trying to influence U.S. politics... so much for separation of church and state.

    Lobbying should be regulated more heavily then California regulates its pot sellers.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • John

      Totally agree

      November 22, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
  19. lee s

    By the sheer fact they want their ideals put into law because they"believe it" should st off alarm bells to any sane person. Anyway, all that money sure could feed a lot of poor people. Like, half of Africa probably

    November 22, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
  20. Jugger

    How is it that all of these "non-profit" non-taxable churches & religious groups have that much money to spend on lobbying? Simple, they don't pay taxes.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
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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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.