Among the ‘Teavangelicals’: Do Conservative Christians Dominate the Tea Party?
Today at the National Press Club, Brody, a pollster and a panel of journalists discussed the “Teavangelicals” - and their potential political impact on the upcoming elections. (Brody is author of a new book The Teavangelicals: The Inside Story of how The Evangelicals and the Tea Party Are Taking Back America.)
The consensus: these voters are solidly in Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s corner, but no one knows for sure how hard they will work to turn out other voters on his behalf.
Robert P. Jones, head of the Public Religion Research Institute, rolled out polling data demonstrating heavy Religious Right influence on the Tea Party. Seven out of 10 Tea Partiers are white Christians, he says, and 47 percent of the movement’s devotees - almost half - consider themselves part of the Religious Right.
Tea Partiers have focused publicly on smaller government and lower taxes in their political activities, but they are just as right-wing on key social issues as their Religious Right brethren. Sixty-seven percent of Tea Partiers say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, compared to 65 percent of white evangelicals who hold that view.
The numbers are just as closely aligned on marriage equality. Three-quarters of Tea Partiers say gay couples should not be allowed to marry, while 77 percent of white evangelicals take the same stance.
There are a few differences. For example, Jones says Tea Partiers are more tolerant toward Romney’s Mormon faith. Sixty-one percent say they are somewhat or very comfortable with a Mormon serving as president. Only 47 percent of white evangelicals say the same.
But since Romney has wrapped up the Republican nomination, Jones reports, evangelicals seem to have put aside their theological trepidations. Sixty-seven percent now have a favorable view of the likely GOP candidate.
Brody, a convert to evangelical Christianity, says Teavangelicals merge traditional Religious Right concerns with a conservative perspective on taxation and the size of government. They worry, he said, “about God getting smaller and government getting bigger. They see it all through a biblical worldview.”