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Religious lobbying is changing political focus

Number of lobbies has grown from 40 to over 200

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  • My2Cents Taylorsville, UT
    Nov. 22, 2011 6:37 a.m.

    I find this rather offensive that religious groups are lobbying our government when it is completley forbidden in our constitution to keep religion out of our government policy and decisions making. The lobby groups should be disbanded and barred from any lobbying of our representatives forever. The rights of religion ends at the chapel doors.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    Nov. 22, 2011 6:44 a.m.

    "... roughly 390 million dollars are spent annually by religious lobby groups in pursuit of their policy objectives."

    ---

    Money that would better be spend aiding their congregants, the poor and the needy.

    Do you really think God wants a PAC when all he really needs to do is wiggle his nose?

  • One Fly WALSENBURG, CO
    Nov. 22, 2011 7:07 a.m.

    The integration of religion into politics is a huge negative and needs to stop. Of course it won't because the religiously insane know no other way. When you have elected officials saying math/science and research is flawed that reason alone is enough to get religion out of the halls of Congress.

  • CJ Murray, UT
    Nov. 22, 2011 7:28 a.m.

    I think it is time to change the tax exempt status of all churches who are engaging in political activism. Why should I pay extra taxes to support so called "charities" that are lobbying for things I don't believe in or support? A very good example would be our local religion telling legislators how to vote on Hb116 and trying to push amnesty for law breaking illegal aliens who are destroying my state. Are they a religion or a political action committee? What we need is one really good challenge that sends a message to all of them.

  • Florien Wineriter Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Nov. 22, 2011 7:29 a.m.

    I am concerned about the one-way street of religions trying to influence civil affairs while they would scream loudly if civil officials even suggested influencing religious activities.
    Then there is the enormous tax exemption given all religious sturctures while they enjoy the use of police and fire protection, and all other governmental services.
    If religions insist on the freedom to influence secular affairs then they should accept the responsibility of financially supporting their sevices.
    Once again I urge the complete seperation of religion and secular affairs...Freedom and Responsbility,it's a fine line isn't it!

  • IMAN Marlborough, MA
    Nov. 22, 2011 7:34 a.m.

    Simple solution. Pump money into lobbying and politics, lose tax exempt status.

  • ParkCityAggie Park City, Ut
    Nov. 22, 2011 7:38 a.m.

    Our Founding Fathers never could have foreseen this modern ultra-religious landscape that did not exist in their day. The whole reason this country exists is because the people wanted to escape Theocratic rule. The Establishment clause in the 1st amendment was meant to be broad, and they didn't see the need to be so explicit about the separation. Yet in Thomas Jefferson's often misquoted 1802 letter to Danbury Baptists he quite literally states that the Establishment clause was meant to provide a "wall of separation between church and State" and this is the Author of the 1st Amendment. You know his true intentions, you know our founding fathers true intentions, read Madison, Adams, Paine, et al. The religious revisionist historians have oft tried to hijack this history, and it's wrong on so many levels. Might I suggest another good book on this subject: "Attack of the Theocrats! How the Religious Right Harms Us All- and What We Can Do About It"

  • JWB Kaysville, UT
    Nov. 22, 2011 7:44 a.m.

    As in the Super Committee lives with the saying that "Don't let a crisis go to waste", this article is part of that process also. Principles are part of everyday life and people will make a case that principles are religion and we can't have those. Lobbying may not be a good thing for religious groups to do but there are principles that they want to live and support. The faith based promotion of the prior administration relates to some of these lobbyists as they are probably 501c3 and want to make a difference in life in our country. There are plenty of people that need help and religious organizations are an integral part of our life in the U.S. It is not always true in other countries. Just because we are now in the last 11 months of the Presidential campaign people will tear at these religious groups so people will not want to donate to their cause, thus increasing our government's ploy of welfare rolls. Religion is a part of country. There are some restrictions but not control by the government. Liberty and freedoms are precious and our religious freedoms were very previous to our Founders.

  • BalancedFulfilledLife MISSOURI CITY, TX
    Nov. 22, 2011 8:09 a.m.

    Religious lobbying exists because of the decline in individual and societal ethics. For the vast majority of the history of this world, people have valued, honored and protected marriage between a man and a woman, family, human life, freedom of religion, and so forth. Our rapidly polarizing nation is divided as to whether or not to continue to value, honor and protect these fundamental concepts that are the core of civilization. Because our nation is divided, those who uphold truth must stand (even politically if necessary) to defend what God has endowed as sacred and holy, namely traditional marriage, family, human life, freedom of religion, and so forth.

  • Lilljemalm Gilbert, AZ
    Nov. 22, 2011 8:10 a.m.

    A religious organization is not forbidden by the constitution from lobbying or stating a position on an issue being considered by politicians or government officials by the Bill of Rights. The federal government, however, is forbidden from sponsoring a religion or impeding the practice of religion by the citizenry. Anyone who advocates silencing groups like a religious group, corporation, special interest group, etc. might as well silence themselves. Preventing one group from lobbying will eventually lead to the preventing of all from lobbying. Freedom of speech allows all to lobby.

  • Ms Molli Bountiful, Utah
    Nov. 22, 2011 8:46 a.m.

    If more Americans lived in Utah for awhile, they would be scared as heck at how much religion can affect politics. All a church needs to do is get a VERY strong foot in the door and watch out. The "non-believers" will basically be pressured to move or accept the fact that the predominant religion is going to be making most of the decisions. One could also argue that the Catholic religion has had a similar hold in a couple of States in the past.

  • J-TX Allen, TX
    Nov. 22, 2011 8:47 a.m.

    My2Cents | 6:37 a.m. Nov. 22, 2011
    I find this rather offensive that religious groups are lobbying our government when it is completley forbidden in our constitution to keep religion out of our government policy and decisions making.

    M2C: You need to re-read the constitution, I think.

    Florien Wineriter | 7:29 a.m. Nov. 22, 2011
    I am concerned about the one-way street of religions trying to influence civil affairs while they would scream loudly if civil officials even suggested influencing religious activities.

    FW: even suggested? Look around. The States have been attempting to squash Christ and Christianity for decades! Especially in the schools, you may name any religion or God except christianity and Christ. Well, not in Texas, thank goodness. There's a reason it's called POLITICAL correctness....

    One group's lobbying is free speech as much as the next group's, according to current law.

    So here is the solution: Outlaw lobbying on capitol hill. All lobbying. Big Oil, Religion, ACLU, Teachers' Unions, AMA, Banking, PETA, All Lobbying. It's just one more step we need to take to take back our country. Let individual citizens call, write and email, so Congress knows what we really want and need.

  • very concerned Sandy, UT
    Nov. 22, 2011 8:48 a.m.

    Religion is under such fervent attack these days that I believe it needs a voice.

    Second, in response to My2Cents, you stated it is completley forbidden in our constitution to keep religion out of (in?) our government policy and decisions making, I don't think it is correct to say that religion is completely forbidden as a source for political change. To say so would be to deny even the individual citizen the right to vote along religious lines.

    Third, as for tax exempt status, there are many non-profit (non-taxed) entities that lobby politicians, both secular and religious. To deny one category (religion) the right to lobby would put all others (even secular non-profits) in jeopardy as well.

    What I guess Im emphatically saying is that yes, religious groups should have the right to lobby. Not control nor dictate, but lobby, for policies of such importance to them. Controling/dicatating should be left to the voters. But, remember, as the article quotes, we as citizens vote from the perspective of religious morals all the time. That is our right. We may vote for a person/policy who holds our same spiritual values without upsetting the constitution.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Nov. 22, 2011 8:50 a.m.

    As the champion of the unprotected people begins to falter, the wolves increase their ferocious attack.

    Our government by the words of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution promised a nation governed by the notion of government by the people and for the people. While it was never really so, the notion of a peoples government was the spark that raised this nation to its present glory. Again, the thing that made this country great was a government that protected and nurtured the benefits of a empowered people.

    States, businesses, religions, and unions of all sorts, combine their members strength to seek special privileges and concessions from the government to enhance their ability to enslave and rob the general population. In this way religious organizations are no different from other commercial businesses. All are anti-democracy and anti-people.

  • Mike in Texas Cedar City, Utah
    Nov. 22, 2011 8:52 a.m.

    Oh, for the good old days when faith based groups were mostly concerned with the salvation and well being of their adherents and not in messing with the lives of non-believers. In recent years many religions have sought to impose their particular moral views on the nation. Isn't this just a form of tyranny? I personally think that the religious right has hijacked the Republican Party - or maybe it's just a marriage of cynical political convenience.

    Given this increase in political activism, maybe we should eliminate the tax advantages they enjoy.

  • Hawkeye79 Iowa City, IA
    Nov. 22, 2011 8:52 a.m.

    As a point of reference for the discussion that will inevitably take place here (and has already started), here is what the constitution actually says about religion and government:

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." -First Amendment

    Perhaps someone can explain what, in this text, suggests that religions can have no discussions with government.

  • ulvegaard Medical Lake, Washington
    Nov. 22, 2011 9:20 a.m.

    I for one think such lobbying should end. But don't stop at the religious groups, make a clean sweep across the board. In today's political world, if religions don't lobby, interests of freedom of religion, good standards and fairness will be completely dismantled by the lobbyists who people commenting on this site seem to think should exist.

    Fair is fair, all, or none.

  • merich39 Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 22, 2011 9:25 a.m.

    there is nothing in the constitution that says religions cannot try to influence government. it is quite the opposite. however, there is also nothing in the constitution that says that religions should receive tax exempt status. so the solution is actually very simple. let religions exert all the political influence they like. just remove their tax exempt status.

  • The Skeptical Chymist SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Nov. 22, 2011 9:28 a.m.

    Of course, religions should be able to voice their views, and to work to influence legislation. Everyone should be able to access their representatives and attempt to influence them. The problem is that money talks more loudly than anything else. Along those lines, the governmental policy allowing tax deductions for contributions to religious organizations is wrong, and in my opinion unconstitutional. This amounts to government aiding the establishment of religion in general. In effect, government is supporting the religious viewpoint over a secular viewpoint by the policy of allowing tax deductions for contributions to religious organizations. Government should be strictly neutral in matters of religion, and should not be endorsing religious activities by their tax policies.

  • Wayne Rout El Paso, TX
    Nov. 22, 2011 9:37 a.m.

    Liberal Democrats have nothing but contempt for religious people. It is great that church groups are doing more, but for the most part, people with religious faith are not nearly active enough in uniting their votes to get the troublemakers out of elective office. We are loosing our religious freedom on a regular basis because of government. If you are a Christian in this country, you have almost no rights. If we do not become more aggressive, we have a lot to loose. We know that Democrats want to tax church property. We are seeing Obama and the Democrats efforts to take away charitable deductions. We don't have much time left to turn this country around.

  • ClarkKent Bountiful, Utah
    Nov. 22, 2011 9:41 a.m.

    I think that for the most part, people who support religions affecting politics are in support because they want the religion they are affiliated with to have the right to continue "as is". However, if those individuals were to be in a situation where another religion that is polar opposite finds a great deal of funding and becomes a powerful lobbyist, I think you will see a whole new perspective on whether or not religions should have a voice in politics.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    Nov. 22, 2011 9:50 a.m.

    J-TX says:
    "So here is the solution: Outlaw lobbying on capitol hill. All lobbying. Big Oil, Religion, ACLU, Teachers' Unions, AMA, Banking, PETA, All Lobbying. It's just one more step we need to take to take back our country. Let individual citizens call, write and email, so Congress knows what we really want and need."

    ---

    That is actually a good idea. You do have them every once in a while.

    Mike in Texas says:
    "... or maybe it's just a marriage of cynical political convenience."

    ---
    Tee hee hee. Per a variety of changes to various state constitutions re-defining the word "marriage", you can no longer call such a union "marriage". ;}

    @Hawkeye79 & The Skeptical Chymist;

    The problem is that laws favoring beliefs of a specific religion automatically infringe on the freedom of religion of other religions with different beliefs.

  • very concerned Sandy, UT
    Nov. 22, 2011 10:10 a.m.

    UltraBob states: States, businesses, religions, and unions of all sorts, combine their members strength to seek special privileges and concessions from the government to enhance their ability to enslave and rob the general population. In this way religious organizations are no different from other commercial businesses. All are anti-democracy and anti-people.

    I strongly disagree. That is quite a cynical, negative assertion, that religions are out to enslave and rob the general population. Most religions espouse healthy, positive conduct that leads to peace among people.

    Judeo-Christian values have been the mainstay of our nation and it's laws and have facilitated the growth of the greatest nation in history. The ultimate form of influence is the vote, at least in this country. Whether it be a group, organization, or individual, trying to influence the government according to one's own conscience IS one of those inviolable rights protected by the constitution.

    However, I will agree that some lobbies have overstepped their bounds and are scary given their financial power and influence. But that is not a good enough reason to outlaw lobbying. It is, however, a good enough reason to regulate it.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Nov. 22, 2011 10:28 a.m.

    ...and our political discourse has never been more fractious. Punt the church out of the legislature.

  • xscribe Colorado Springs, CO
    Nov. 22, 2011 10:29 a.m.

    Yes, let's mandate the US as a Christian nation! While we're at it, let's mandate which religion we "have" to choose also. And then let's ship the nonbelievers out of here along with the illegal aliens!

  • Pagan Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 22, 2011 10:34 a.m.

    'Religiuous lobbying is changing political focus' - Title

    while previously:

    *'Bishops say government eroding religious liberty' - By Rachel Zoll - AP - Published by DSNews - 11/14/11

    The claims of this BISHOP (religious office) that religious liberty is 'under threat' is now so abusurd it goes beyond humor and should not be...

    pittyed.

    When we see, example, after example of people using thier RELIGION...as a weapon.

  • Jazz Cop San Francisco, CA
    Nov. 22, 2011 11:07 a.m.

    unless u have the power to make lions cow at your feet, and can throw on a robe and walk through fire; anyone who would complain about religion lobbying as a diversion to equality in social policy is really saying that the diversity they hold as ideal turns out to be the exclusion and approbation of the historical value of christianity and the role it had in the foundation of our counrty, and the formation of it's values, which were 'at least' christian, as much as they were ethical.

  • A voice of Reason Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 22, 2011 11:29 a.m.

    RanchHand,

    I am by no means Rich. I could use more money right now. However, I have willingly given money to my religion why? Because I wanted them to spend it on helping others. Whether that's through a lobbyist or not is irrelevant. Whether you agree on what defines 'helping' is irrelevant.

    What is relevant is that I am a free citizen of a free country and I freely chose to endorse what I want to with what is mine.

    So aside from being well within my rights to do so, I argue that how I spend my money is not subject to the criticism of others. That what belongs to me is spent best HOW I see fit. So while you may think it would be better spent elsewhere. I got news for you. No one ever listens to how their neighbor thinks they should spend their money. We listen to how WE believe our resources are best focused. That is our right, and criticism of our choices produces nothing. One could argue that you or I on this board could spend our time better also, by helping those in need. Yet we're still on here. Interesting thought.

  • lds4gaymarriage Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 22, 2011 11:34 a.m.

    The 1st Amendment allows all to petition government so lobbying is a constitutional right for all. Religions are no different than the NAACP or NRA in wanting to shape society so there is no way to stop religions from lobbying government nor should there be. They have a right to petition government.

    Christianity isnt under attack. Its just no longer granted special privileges. No prayer in school or Bible reading. This isnt an attack, but simply avoiding government promotion of religion. If schools try to teach about Islam or other beliefs while denying Christianity equal treatment, they need to be stopped.

    Being a Libertarian, I believe that laws should only be instituted to punish actions that objectively harm to person, property or rights of another. Laws involving other actions that dont objectively harm others should be eschewed even though religious groups often promote them. Such laws often involve vice (gambling, prostitution, shopping on Sunday, etc). Vice is not crime. It may be a sin per ones SUBJECTIVE morals, but not crime.

    Christian religions must also obey 1 Cor. 10:29 which condemns using subjective morality to justify outlawing the rights of others.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 22, 2011 11:43 a.m.

    @Wayne Rout
    "Liberal Democrats have nothing but contempt for religious people."

    I'm pretty sure the majority of liberal democrats are religious.

    "If you are a Christian in this country, you have almost no rights."

    As a Christian myself I find this notion silly.

    "I have to say, as someone who is not Christian, its hard for me to believe Christians are a persecuted people in America. God-willing, maybe one of you one day will even rise up and get to be president of this country - or maybe forty-four in a row. But, thats my point, is theyve taken this idea of no establishment as persecution, because they feel entitled, not to equal status, but to greater status."
    Jon Stewart to Mike Huckabee on The Daily Show

  • JRJ Pocatello, ID
    Nov. 22, 2011 11:52 a.m.

    So MIke in Texas: If the religious right has hijacked the Republican party, does that mean the atheistic left has hijacked the Democrat Party? Gotta be fair. Perhaps the lobbying should just disappear. Whoops, that would put another 'loophole' in things as all lobbying would then go farther underground and larger pieces of pie would be at stake. I think we're talking about a desire to have people of all faiths, political parties and other interests just be... wait for it....honest? Frankly, I think the majority of the country doesn't care a fig about anyone else. It's all me, me, me.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    Nov. 22, 2011 12:30 p.m.

    @VoR:

    Interesting thought indeed.

    I don't have an issue with you donating to your church or even how your church uses those funds (though Christianity is supposedly about helping the poor and needy; actions/words, my friend).

    I do have a problem when religions lobby for laws that INFRINGE ON THE RIGHTS OF OTHERS. Be they other religions, other citizens, other groups, whatnot.

    When one religion gets a law enacted that restricts another religion's practices, that infringement violates the 1st Amendment. Anti-abortion, anti-glbt, anti-muslim, pro-SchoolPrayer laws violate the freedom of the individual AND other religions.

    The first amendment does NOT grant religions the right to infringe on ANY other rights. The only right granted is the right to PRACTICE your religion in your own home and church w/o government interference. Yes, you can discuss it in public, but you may NOT force others to adhere to it. All this lobbying is intended to force their own version of morality or whatever into law. That is wrong.

  • Mike in Texas Cedar City, Utah
    Nov. 22, 2011 1:48 p.m.

    JRJ

    Well, I haven't heard of many Democrats attending conventions of atheists, or having atheists publicly support Democrats in their office seeking. Have you?

    I have however, listed to Falwell, Roberts, and many other conservative preachers like the anti Mormon one from Dallas who supports Perry. And, there are other conservative religious groups that do not directly endorse one party over the other (perhaps concerned about the potential for tax consequences) but their membership still knows how to vote for the party. candidate, or issue they prefer.

  • ulvegaard Medical Lake, Washington
    Nov. 22, 2011 2:29 p.m.

    Ms Molli,

    While I appreciate you point of view, I am frustrated with the numberless people who feel that the LDS church in particular has weaseled their way in too much into the affairs of Utah. In 1847, the Salt Lake Basin was a wasteland, nothing would grow there - and no one wanted it. The westward migration was headed for the green and gold laden valleys of Oregon and California.

    The Mormon people set down stakes in the Salt Lake Valley and converted it into a near garden spot, and now, all of a sudden, they considered to be meddling in the affairs of the area. My ancestors and those of many other people, paid a heavy price for their faith in building a home in a desolate wilderness, forgive us if what happens in the valley still matters very much to us.

  • A voice of Reason Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 22, 2011 3:07 p.m.

    RanchHand,

    "I do have a problem when religions lobby for laws that INFRINGE ON THE RIGHTS OF OTHERS."

    Wow, I mean really- what statement could be more anti-democratic and against freedom than that?

    You have a problem with my promoting my beliefs? But you said that it's only when I promote infringing rights... because, well... we ALL agree on what rights are now don't we? Even if we actually did, how much do we agree on how rights are best preserved and protected?

    But no, by all means. If I lobby my OPINION vs your OPINION, you have a problem with it.

    I'm sorry RanchHand, but that is self-evidently a hostile political stance. If you have a problem with my opinion, fine. I welcome that opinion. But if you have a problem with me lobbying, speaking out, or debating to support that opinion... then I would ask- why do you live in a democracy? Having a problem with an opinion is one thing. Having a problem with that opinion being successful in a democracy, is most certainly a destructive stance.

    By all means, liberals understand rights. Because the conservative half of America is OBVIOUSLY wrong.

    Really?

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Nov. 22, 2011 3:20 p.m.

    Wayne Rout | 9:37 a.m. Nov. 22, 2011
    El Paso, TX

    Religious people have nothing but contempt for non-religious people. It is caused by their fear of being found out as preaching a false dogma. If you could find one shred of actual evidence of any of your gospel, we might consider changing our minds.

    The only reason you have any religious freedom is because we have a government not associated and controlled by a particular religion. If the religion forces take over our government there will be no religious freedom and little personal freedom in America, like so many other nations in the world.

    As a personal exercise, try to find one religious freedom that was lost in the history of America that did not provide a greater amount of freedom of religion in return.

    Real Americans would like for every one to share the burden of freedom in America. Many of us resent the forced contribution to churches other than our own.

  • LDSareChristians Anchorage, AK
    Nov. 22, 2011 3:20 p.m.

    IMAN posted: Simple solution. Pump money into lobbying and politics, lose tax exempt status.

    Yeh, if YOU pump money into the same, you should lose your tax deductions.

  • LDSareChristians Anchorage, AK
    Nov. 22, 2011 3:22 p.m.

    RanchHand posted: Do you really think God wants a PAC when all he really needs to do is wiggle his nose?

    God is capable, but he won't, because of a higher principal called free agency.

  • LDSareChristians Anchorage, AK
    Nov. 22, 2011 4:16 p.m.

    From the list at the PEW website, There is only one LDS lobbyist group.

    Mission Statement

    To build relationships with people in the public sphere whose influence and actions are relevant to the mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

  • m.g. scott LAYTON, UT
    Nov. 23, 2011 8:13 a.m.

    Many of you (mostly on the left of course) seem to forget that in the same first amendment that provides for Congress staying out of religion by passing no laws respecting religion it also gives people (individules) the right to assemble(lobby as a group) and petititon government (lobbying). For what many of you want to happen you might as well be saying "throw out the whole first amendmen."

  • I M LDS 2 Provo, UT
    Nov. 23, 2011 4:57 p.m.

    m.g. scott,

    "Many of you (mostly on the left of course)..."

    I have been Republican and conservative my entire life. Your labeling and judgmentalism is not cool.

    The right to assemble and "petititon government for redress of grievances is NOT the right to "lobby" Lobbyists do NOT present petitions to the government. Your argument is completely fallacious.

  • The_Kaiser Holladay, UT
    Nov. 23, 2011 8:48 p.m.

    Those who want their government to legislate morality are mistaken in the whole idea of free choice.

    We cannot force others to accept and live by our individual standards. We can puruade them, but never coerce. Government intervention in religious morality is an attempt of reducing people's free choice. We must let people choose, never force them to.

    Forced morality only leads to embitterment, secrecy, and greater unruliness.

    We must learn that we must govern ourselves, and pursuade others to make correct choices.

  • Isthisforeal BLACKFOOT, ID
    Nov. 25, 2011 3:31 p.m.

    Most of these comments are saying, that as a believer I can have no say in this government, while the eat, drink, and be merry crowd has their way promoting the anything goes philosophy.

    Tolerance is nearly non-existent in todays debate. Don't like it get a lawyer. I have never seen a public prayer or expression of anyone's religion result in any harm, only that created in the intolerant mind.

    Give me a beak, lighten up, and understand that everyone as a human being sees things differently and be a little more understanding.

    Unfortunately, lobbying is viewed as a means of educating government officials to direct wise legislation. Not always saying I agree with everything that comes out of DC.

    I could view extreme environmentalism as a religion, it is, and call for removal of tax exempt status. Let's focus on the billions they have bilked the layers out of in just the last ten years.

    This is a minor debate the leading issue is corruption in our government at all levels of government, and all parties.