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. manuel rodriguez

    It shows that they do not have faith in the God they believe, why not God and ask God?.

    November 22, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
  2. Mark

    I hate organized religion, I hate organized government, what else hmmm....

    November 22, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      Apparently you Christians hate little boys who don't take it in the rear.

      November 22, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  3. endrace&religion

    It will always amaze me how people can ignore the facts about where we came from but swear they know some guy called jesus that may have lived thousands of years ago. People wrote about this supposed person 30 to 80 years after his supposed death and these writings is what people swear by. The ills of this world will only get worse until people realize we are all from the same place and to kill, fight, argue and go crazy over which religion is true is just plain crazy. When a mentally ill person hears "voices" they are locked up. Why is that people who hear "god" or "jesus" aren't locked up too? Its the same damn thing!!

    November 22, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • Jon O

      There's a reason why the period in Western History that was defined by the greatest power of the Christian Church historically is known as the "Dark Ages."

      November 22, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • Jon O

      When are these people REALLY going to put their faith in God and stop going to Doctors and hospitals when they're sick and injured and just pray it away?

      Do us all a favor...

      November 22, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
  4. The 1%!

    All of you 99%er's all get back to work or your fired!

    November 22, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • ol cranky

      all of our jobs were outsourced to China

      November 22, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
  5. John/kc

    Are these religious groups doing their lobbying with tax exempt church money? Churches that use their tax exempt money to lobby congress should be taxed. Why are churches tax exempt anyway?

    November 22, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  6. jls

    If there using donation to do this, someone better paying taxes on it, religion is not allowed in politics, IRS should shut them down

    November 22, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  7. Rich

    <Most born again christians should go back and finish high school and then take some real good science courses but i doubt they could after hearing Perry & Cain speak.They actually want to cut education to widen the gop and born again christian base

    November 22, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      Makes sense to me. Cutting education will increase Christian followers.

      November 22, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  8. GodofLunaticsCreation

    I love reading Christian comments. They must be missing a chromosome, but it spells laughs for me.

    November 22, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • Nah

      1/10. Troll harder?

      November 22, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • palintwit


      November 22, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • wait..

      @Nah.. if the same was said by thiest talking about athiests/agnostics you would rank it 10/10.. I know that kind of switching standards is taught to you in your bible.. but, please stop making a fool of yourself..

      November 22, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      Im just stating a fact. Why does jesus love touching little boys so much?

      November 22, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • Dave in Portland

      Nah rarely comes up with anything truly witty. What I perceive every time I read one of his/her posts is "like...whatever...gawd..."

      November 22, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
  9. Bob

    Tax the religions.

    November 22, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • Aerin

      I agree

      November 22, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  10. whyme


    November 22, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  11. Bob

    Religion needs MONEY, these days, to lobby and to pay for all the pedo-shield lawsuits. As usual, Carlin says it best.

    November 22, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      I think I saw Jesus the other day. He was under the GWB selling oranges.

      November 22, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
  12. Sean

    Separation of church and state is the first amendment for a good reason, when you try to combine the the two you have the middle east. Im sure everyone sees how well that is working out....

    November 22, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • wait..

      Oh Sean, you have so much to learn about Christianity.. your argument has a major hole in it.. if it was Christianity that the middle east would have embraced, everyone would now have been pushing roses out of their a$$es and jumping hoops through the moon

      There dear Christians, I made the argument for you

      November 22, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
    • Leaf on the Wind

      @wait - I think I love you.

      November 22, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  13. GodofLunaticsCreation

    i thought Jesus already came back. Apparently he is a bad planner and a bad shot. He took out that window in the White House.

    November 22, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
  14. dowdotica

    sounds like its time to take away "EXEMPT" status...think about it....the sheer amount of money the catholic church alone makes could generate a sizable amount of tax revenue!!! TAX THE CHURCHES!!!!

    November 22, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • Punjab83

      I see everything as a two way street. If these lobbyists want to infringe on the state, why not the state then infringe on the church and tax them. No more of this separation of church and state. Lets play fair.

      November 22, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • whyme

      The Mormons have more money

      November 22, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
  15. Mike


    November 22, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • john

      why just religious groups. You should also include Atheist, the ACLU, George Soros groups, all the Lib turds as well.

      November 22, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • dowdotica

      I THINK WE SHOULD ELIMINATE THE WHOLE NON PROFIT JIVE! google some of these orginizations and then ask yourself just what do they do for the community...people are starving in America and i bet bottom dollar the heads of a lot of these orginizations live way better then me the working slag!!! All on other peoples money they manipulated out of some poor mis informed dolt!!!

      November 22, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • Aerin


      November 22, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      @John: Atheists do pay taxes (or at least the working ones do)!! We are not an organized group who hold weekly meetings in a building specifically built for the purpose of worship. All Atheist means is a disbelief in a god...not religion based at all.

      November 22, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • Snow

      Everytime I hear the argument @John makes it makes me LMAO.. If there was a Church for the Divine touch of Athiestic and Agnostic Intelligence, please go ahead and tax them.. But, umm, I know you need to leave your senses to be thiest, but, umm, there is NONE, you peabrain dip$ hit..

      November 22, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • Dave in Portland

      Rofl, you cannot tax atheism. By definition, atheism simply means a lack of belief. You cannot tax a negative value. MOST agnostics and atheists do not spend their days crusading to abolish the idea of God. There are a few that seem very angry against God, but I don't consider them atheists, because in order to be angry at a being, you must first believe in it. Therefore, most of the atheistic crusaders are just disgruntled former xtians.

      November 22, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
  16. Punjab83

    $400 million in lobbying? JESUS!

    November 22, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      Apparently Jesus needs all the help he can get.

      November 22, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
  17. Rich

    Did god tell them all to go to Washington?Or the Koch bros...

    November 22, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  18. Leaf on the Wind

    Cure for our national debt/deficit woes: tax all of these religious groups. They've been getting a free ride for too long.

    "Fatherhood initiatives" - could someone please explain that one to me? What's an example of a fatherhood initiative? I am truly curious.

    November 22, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  19. GodofLunaticsCreation

    Tax those ped0philes for Christ!

    November 22, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  20. L2k4FC

    It is notable that nearly every religion claims that their God is the one true God and therefore all other religions are false, evil, misguided...whatever. So what you really have is a separation of people instead of a cohesion of people. And once you start separating people and calling them misguided, then other things follow such as calling them different, ignorant, or evil. If you follow that path and give it enough time eventually people see each other as less than human and very bad things start to happen [hunger, war, genocide]. It is especially ironic for Christians who are commanded to 'Love thy neighbor as yourself'. I wish people would start thinking about things more and in a longer term context. I'm afraid your species may go extinct if not.

    November 22, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • Dave in Portland

      Agreed. We should be moving forward as a species, but instead too many are mired in a belief system that lost its validity many centuries ago, if it ever had any.

      November 22, 2011 at 4:56 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.