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Pew Study Finds Growth in Number of Religious Advocacy Organizations
Bread for the World members headed to Capitol Hill on Tuesday June 14, 2011, to lobby their members of Congress on behalf of poor and hungry people. Bread members from Pennsylvania present an award to a staffer in Senator Robert Casey's office. Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl
A recent study conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that the number of religious lobbying or religion-related advocacy groups in Washington, DC has grown almost five times in the past 40 years -- from 40 such groups in 1970 to more than 200 today.
According to the study, the top religious advocacy groups with spending that exceeds $10 million a year include the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Bread for the World, which was sixth on the list. (See the full list here.)
Furthermore, the study finds that the various advocacy groups in Washington rally folks around about 300 different policy issues, which include domestic and foreign policy matters. Among domestic policy issues, the most common issue these groups address are church and state, civil liberties, bioethics and life issues, and family/marriage issues. Among international issues, these groups tend to cover human rights, debt relief or economic issues, and peace and democracy.
Among this diverse group of faith-based advocacy and lobby groups, Bread for the World is proud to continue working to end hunger in our country and around the world by persistently bringing our message of hope and truth to lawmakers and the general public.
While the overall strength of these religious advocacy groups are small compared with political or corporate lobby groups, a recent Washington Post On Faith column today noted that “they have a particular clout that can wield influence at unexpected times.” In that same column, John Carr, policy advocate for the Catholic bishops explains the source of that influence:
“We don’t make endorsements, we don’t give campaign contributions, we don’t even write thank you notes. No one is going on a golfing vacation in Scotland with us. But we have assets others don’t — a consistent set of principles,” said John Carr, a policy advocate for the Catholic bishops, who first came to the Hill in the 1970s. “I think there is a grudging respect for consistency, even with people who disagree with us.”
At Bread for the World, our consistent set of principles comes from the clear mandate from the Bible that we must do all we can to advocate for the “least of these.” Thus, Bread for the World members will continue to funnel all of our resources, energy, and time into raising a persistent voice in Washington and around the nation to end hunger in our time.
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