Religious Advocacy Has Soared Over Past 40 Years, Pew Study Finds

By:  Dave Bohon
11/28/2011
       
Religious Advocacy Has Soared Over Past 40 Years, Pew Study Finds

Raise the issue of religious lobbying and the average American will immediately think of groups like the Moral Majority and the Christian Coalition, which enjoyed their heyday back in the 1980s and ’90s. But a new study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life reveals that the number of religious — and anti-religious — groups pushing a plethora of values-based agendas has exploded over the past 40 years.

Those groups include such broadly focused entities as Focus on the Family (FOTF), the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, People for the American Way, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and the Family Research Council, as well as such special interest organizations as the American Life League, the National Right to Life Committee, Bread for the World, the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), and the National Organization for Marriage.

According to the Pew study, the number of groups “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.” The total of 212 organizations analyzed by Pew collectively employ at least 1,000 staff members and spend more than $390 million annually to influence Congress and other Beltway movers and shakers on some 300 policy issues. “Religious advocacy is now a permanent and sizable feature of the Washington scene,” said Allen Hertzke, a political scientist at the University of Oklahoma and lead author of the report.

Raise the issue of religious lobbying and the average American will immediately think of groups like the Moral Majority and the Christian Coalition, which enjoyed their heyday back in the 1980s and ’90s. But a new study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life reveals that the number of religious — and anti-religious — groups pushing a plethora of values-based agendas has exploded over the past 40 years.

Those groups include such broadly focused entities as Focus on the Family (FOTF), the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, People for the American Way, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and the Family Research Council, as well as such special interest organizations as the American Life League, the National Right to Life Committee, Bread for the World, the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), and the National Organization for Marriage.

According to the Pew study, the number of groups “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.” The total of 212 organizations analyzed by Pew collectively employ at least 1,000 staff members and spend more than $390 million annually to influence Congress and other Beltway movers and shakers on some 300 policy issues. “Religious advocacy is now a permanent and sizable feature of the Washington scene,” said Allen Hertzke, a political scientist at the University of Oklahoma and lead author of the report.

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