Lobbying for the Faithful
The number of organizations 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. A new study by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life examines the agenda, strategy, religious affiliation and structure of 212 religious advocacy groups operating in the nation’s capital.
Rising Restrictions on Religion
More than 2.2 billion people — nearly a third (32%) of the world’s total population of 6.9 billion — live in countries where either government restrictions on religion or social hostilities involving religion rose substantially between mid-2006 and mid-2009.
Arab Spring Fails to Improve U.S. Image
The rise of pro-democracy movements in the Middle East has not led to an improvement in America’s image in the region. Instead, in key Arab nations and in other predominantly Muslim countries, views of the U.S. remain negative, as they have been for nearly a decade. And, with the exception of Indonesia, Obama remains unpopular in the Muslim nations polled.
Churches in Court
American religious institutions have been at the center of many legal controversies in recent years. These and related lawsuits raise complex constitutional questions that have been troubling American courts for more than a century. Are legal disputes involving churches and other religious institutions constitutionally different from those involving their secular counterparts, and if so, how?
Egypt, Democracy and Islam
In a survey conducted last spring, a majority of Egyptian Muslims said that democracy was preferable to any other kind of government. An overwhelming majority also believes Islam’s influence in politics is positive.
Faith on the Hill
Many analysts described the November 2010 midterm elections as a sea change, with Republicans taking control of the U.S. House of Representatives and narrowing the Democratic majority in the Senate. But this political overhaul appears to have had little effect on the religious composition of Congress, which is similar to the religious makeup of the previous Congress and of the nation.
Muslim Publics Divided on Hamas and Hezbollah
While Hamas and Hezbollah continue to receive mixed ratings from Muslim publics around the globe, opinions of al Qaeda and bin Laden are consistently negative. Meanwhile, most Muslims surveyed welcome a significant role for Islam in their countries’ politics, and most also say democracy is preferable to any other kind of government.
Indonesia’s Place Along the Spectrum of Global Religious Restriction
Indonesia, where President Barack Obama will visit this month and where he spent part of his childhood, is among those countries of the globe where such restrictions and hostilities are highest.
In the Courts: Voucher Battle Redux
A coming Supreme Court case on an Arizona law allowing funds donated to religious schools to be subtracted from state taxes owed by donors could severely limit future Establishment Clause challenges.
Public Opinion in Pakistan: Concern About Extremist Threat Slips
Pakistanis have grown markedly less concerned about extremist groups, and are far more worried about the external threat from India. America’s image remains negative and support for U.S. involvement in the fight against extremists has waned. Many Pakistanis endorse extreme views about law, religion and society.