Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Religion Related Lobbying on the Rise in the U.S.

The Pew Forum just released a very interesting study of religious lobbying in the U.S. The complete report is long (here), but definitely read the executive summary found here. Here are two paragraphs from the executive summary:
The number of organizations engaged in religious lobbying or religion-related advocacy in Washington, D.C., has increased roughly fivefold in the past four decades, from fewer than 40 in 1970 to more than 200 today. These groups collectively employ at least 1,000 people in the greater Washington area and spend at least $390 million a year on efforts to influence national public policy. As a whole, religious advocacy organizations work on about 300 policy issues. For most of the past century, religious advocacy groups in Washington focused mainly on domestic affairs. Today, however, roughly as many groups work only on international issues as work only on domestic issues, and nearly two-thirds of the groups work on both. These are among the key findings of a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life that examines a total of 212 religion-related advocacy groups operating in the nation’s capital.
Previous studies indicate that lobbying in general has increased rapidly in recent decades. But the growth in the number of religion-related advocacy organizations appears to have kept pace with – or even exceeded – the growth in some other common types of advocacy organizations...
The dollars expended on this lobbying is large -- over $390 million -- but the expenditures did decline during the recession. The lobbying groups represent a wide range of religious groups, including Catholic, Protestant, other Christian, Jewish, Baha'i, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, and more. And the lobbying is aimed at a wide range of issues, from inherently religious ones such as the promotion of religious freedom to social and political issues such as HIV-AIDS.

Why do religious groups expend so much on lobbying? And why has it grown over time?

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