(A view of the U.S. Capitol dome in Washington November 21, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

The number of religion-related lobbying groups in Washington has grown five-fold in the past 40 years, with their spending reaching almost $400 million annually, the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life latest study showed. It identified 212 groups, up from 158 a decade ago and 40 in 1970.

Their collective budgets for lobbing efforts in Washington were estimated at $390 million a year. For 131 of the groups for which data could be obtained, median spending was $890,000 in 2009, down from $970,000 the year before.

Forty groups accounted for the bulk of the spending, led by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which spent nearly $88 million in 2008, the last year for which data was provided.

Also in 2008, the Family Research Council spent $14 million and the American Jewish Committee $13 million.