Religious Groups Spend $400 Million Annually Lobbying in DC, Study Finds

The number of religious groups lobbying in Washington D.C. has grown five times larger from 1970 to today, according to a Pew report released Monday.

The number of lobbyists grew from only 40 religious advocacy groups in 1970 to nearly 200 today. The growth has accounted for 1,000 jobs in the Washington D.C. area.

The study found that just under $400 million is spent annually by the lobbyists to influence lawmakers on more than 300 issues, according to the study.

The report found that most religious advocacy is done by Christian groups.

“The study finds that about one-in-five religious advocacy organizations in Washington have a Roman Catholic perspective (19%) and a similar proportion are evangelical Protestant in outlook (18%), while 12% are Jewish and 8% are mainline Protestant,” the report said.

“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 continued. “In fact, the number of Muslim groups (17) is about the same as the number of mainline Protestant groups (16).”

The study found that most advocacy groups spend somewhere around $1 million annually. The money is largely spent on influencing both domestic and international affairs.

The lobby groups themselves represent a varied selection of the religious community. For example, about 42 percent of lobby groups represent individuals, while 17 percent represent institutions, 15 percent represent religious bodies, and 8 percent represent think tanks.

The study found that lobbyists tend to employ at least one of eight advocacy methods. These methods include informing constituents (41 percent of groups say this is their most frequently used strategy), meeting with officials (15 percent) and letter campaigns (10 percent).

Only 10 percent of lobby groups said corresponding with policymakers is their main advocacy method.

Christians are relatively under-represented by D.C. lobby groups, according to the study. Though 75 percent of U.S. adults say they are Christian, only 50 percent of lobby groups in D.C. align with a Christian organization.

And 80 percent of the advocacy groups surveyed said they are a 501(c)(3) organization-which qualifies them as a nonprofit organization but denies the right to allocate funds to lobbying. In order to engage in lobbying, these organizations create and fund sister organizations that are legally able to lobby.

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