Pew researchers discovered that the number of religious groups lobbying politicians in Washington, D.C., has increased 500 percent in the past four decades, from fewer than 40 in 1970 to more than 200 today. With more than 1,000 lobbyists vying for the ears of Congress members, the groups together spend more than $390 million a year to shape not only public policy but also the political process itself.
Roman Catholic, Protestant and Jewish advocacy groups make up 58 percent of the groups in the study. One in 6 represents smaller religious communities, including the Baha’is, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs, while the remaining quarter studied are multifaith or representative of no specific religious tradition. Just over 40 percent of the firms lobby for individuals rather than institutions or specific religious denominations.
Laws based on more than 300 policy issues, including abortion, capital punishment, right to die and gay marriage, are influenced by these organizations.
Thomas Jefferson weeps as the wall that once stood between church and state in America is pulled down for a pittance. —ARK
The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life:
Efforts by religious groups to influence U.S. public policy are a multimillion-dollar endeavor, with combined annual expenditures conservatively estimated at more than $390 million. The median annual advocacy expenditures by the 131 groups for which recent (2008 or 2009) financial data were available was nearly $1 million. More than one-third of the groups (46 groups, or 35%) reported annual advocacy expenditures between $1 million and $5 million per year, while about one-in-ten (18 groups, or 14%) reported spending more than $5 million a year.
The First Baptist Church, the Colorado State Capitol and Republic Plaza form an orderly row in the Denver skyline.