Lobbyist Activities of Religious Interest Groups Germany and the USA Compared

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 11:15 AM
Room: Harbor Lounge B
Oral Presentation
Matthias KORTMANN , Department of Political Science, University of Munich, Munich, Germany
The question of political lobbyism by religious (collective) actors is not an issue for interest group research only. Their public and political presence also raises questions concerning the relationship between religion and the state within modern, secularized societies. All modern democratic states know (traditional) regimes of religious governance that influence the scope of action of religious organizations and may open up or limit their opportunities to increase their political participation. In recent years the (scientific) concern regarding national regimes of religious governance has even increased since there have been processes of secularization, privatization of religious practices and religious diversification that have challenged historically rooted arrangements regarding the relations between religion and state.

This research project focuses on the political presence and participation of religious organizations in two countries with different traditions regarding both the role of organized interests in general and of religious interest groups in particular: Germany and the USA. The question is how religious organizations try to influence political processes in the two countries, thus to frame the political agenda, to be present in public and to establish relations to and networks with relevant (political) actors.

The strategies and means religious communities apply are analyzed via a qualitative analysis of documents published by religious organizations like press releases, position papers and their websites. Via a media analysis not only positions of religious organizations concerning certain political issues are investigated but also the results of their efforts to be present in the media and place their concerns publicly. The political participation of religious organizations is investigated via parliamentary lobby lists, the numbers of their members being elected to parliaments and their presence in parliamentary committees and governmental advisory boards which they are invited to as experts on specific issues and as relevant societal groups, respectively.