Religious Groups as Interest Groups: The United States Catholic Bishops in the Welfare Reform Debate of 1995–1996 and the Health Care Reform Debate of 2009–2010

February 5, 2016

Published in Religions, this article by Anne Marie Cammisa and Paul Christopher Manuel examines Roman Catholic religious groups as interest groups in the congressional policy-making process. The United States has a long history of religious influence on public policy. In recent decades, the number of religious interest groups (as well as interest groups in general) has greatly expanded, but the role that the religious organizations play as interest groups in the policy arena has received relatively little attention. How are they similar to and different from other interest groups? What tactics do they use? How successful are they? Under what conditions is success or failure more likely? Cammisa and Manuel place Catholic interest groups in the context of the interest group literature and examine Catholic interest groups’ activity in the passage of welfare reform in 1996 and in the passage of health care reform in 2010. In both cases, they played a greater role in context-setting than in actually changing provisions.

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