Religious Advocacy Groups Boom on Capitol Hill: News Roundup

In the news this week:  a remarkable increase in religious advocacy groups in Washington, Atheism and the holidays, a Presidential candidate promotes profiling, and other stories. 

The field of religious advocacy has mushroomed on Capitol Hill in recent decades, a new survey shows, with the number of groups growing fivefold since 1970 and hundreds of millions spent each year to influence issues from school vouchers and immigration to the right of women overseas to have abortions.
 
The report, released Monday by the Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life, appears to be the most extensive research ever done on D.C.-based lobbyists and advocates on faith matters. It documents the widening range of domestic and foreign issues religious groups push and fight and shows the entrance in recent years of religious minority groups, such as Muslims, Sikhs and secular organizations, into the field. Washington Post
 
In towns all across America, individuals are called out by their very neighbors for their lack of belief, and are excluded from their community because of their nontheism. Stories of discrimination against atheists are increasingly commonplace in the media, as atheists are frequently and wrongly charged with being amoral troublemakers who seek to destroy the foundations of America.
 
This type of prejudice runs counter to the generosity that is supposed to be the hallmark of the holidays. That's why the American Humanist Association recently announced the launch of a holiday advertisement campaign aimed to raise awareness of discrimination against nonbelievers in America. Huffington Post
 
Springfield, Missouri, hosted the Skepticon IV convention over the weekend. While there, many atheists shopped at the local stores and restaurants. One of the restaurants that members of the atheist community patronized was Gelato Mio. However, it soon became clear that the owner of that establishment didn’t want to serve non-believers. He put up a sign on his window that read, “Skepticon is NOT welcomed to my Christian Business.” Examiner
 
Today, as two of Smith's adherents eye the nation's highest office, religious discrimination remains an obstacle for Mormon political candidates for president and a vexation for church members. USA Today
 
Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum said at Tuesday's CNN National Security Debate that he would improve airport security by profiling, particularly Muslims and young men.
 
"Obviously Muslims would be someone you'd look at, absolutely," Santorum said. "Those are the folks who … the radical Muslims are the people that are committing these crimes by and large, as well as younger males." Santorum said profiling was important because the American security apparatus should strive to "find the bomber, not the bomb."
 
Corey Saylor, Council on American-Islamic Relations national legislative director, put out a release on Wednesday that asked for Santorum to repudiate the comments. CNN