The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has a new analysis of religion and the Tea Party. The whole thing is an interesting read and offers solid evidence for the religious forces driving the movement. Sara Posner and Mark Silk have offered their takes on the findings.
One thing jumped out to me:
Surveys from November 2010 through February 2011 show that white evangelical Protestants are roughly five times as likely to agree with the movement as to disagree with it (44% vs. 8%), though substantial numbers of white evangelicals either have no opinion or have not heard of the movement (48%).
If my math is right, less than half of evangelicals agree with the Tea Party and the rest either don’t care or actively disagree. This is important because while Pew has ample evidence to prove that most Tea Partiers are also part of the religious right (read conservative evangelicals), the majority of evangelicals are not affiliated with the Tea Party. So, Tea Party rhetoric, Tea Party leadership, and Tea Party activists must always be contextualized as a (sizable) minority within American evangelicalism.
When we hear Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, or Michele Bachmann invoking their evangelical street cred we have to remember that half of the folks in churches on Sunday morning don’t care about, don’t know, or don’t like them.
David Sehat has a great opinion piece up at the Christian Science Monitor where he argues that the current Tea Party has more in common with the antifederalists that opposed the Constitution than they do with the Constitution’s federalist framers.
This argument is instructive, but not quite in the way that tea partiers imagine. Though the tea party’s philosophy is clear enough, it obscures a telling irony: Even though tea partiers appeal to the Constitution to support their position, they often sound more like Antifederalist opponents of the Constitution than the Constitution’s supporters.
This is because the original vision of the Constitution did not seek to keep the national government small and in its place, as the tea partiers claim. The Constitution sought, instead, to strengthen the national government in order to solve the problem of federal taxation.
There’s now officially a hat in the ring—or is it a pizza? Herman Cain, the man who saved Godfather’s Pizza and argued against Bill Clinton’s attempt at health care reform, has started a presidential exploratory committee. In a profile on Cain at Slate, David Weigel describes Cain’s popularity among the Tea Party folk:
When Cain speaks at conservative conferences and Tea Party rallies, he gets bigger crowds than members of Congress, and only slightly smaller crowds than Fox News hosts. He was invited to join the board of Tea Party Patriots, declining in part because he was thinking about this presidential bid, and he was a spokesman for Ginni Thomas’ “Liberty Central.” At the October 2010 Virginia Tea Party Patriots Convention in Richmond, I saw football-jersey-style T-shirts displaying names of those who might run for president this year: Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Mike Pence, and Herman Cain. When no other Republican wanted to talk about 2012, Cain would walk into speeches introduced by a heavily produced video, a highlight reel of his other speeches.
Weigel also notes Cain’s radio show on WSB in Atlanta where he rails against President Obama, “socialism,” and the Democrats abuse of individual rights while mixing in some “Dale Carnegie-esque leadership talk.”
When it comes to his credentials as a Christian conservative, well, Cain is working on those. Sarah has already pointed out religious right connections and he’s continued to step those up. Last month he wrote a Christmas column for World Net Daily titled “An Example for America: The Perfect Conservative” in which he turned the carpenter from Nazareth into Ronald Reagan:
He helped the poor without one government program. He healed the sick without a government health-care system. He fed the hungry without food stamps. And everywhere He went, it turned into a rally, attracting large crowds and giving people hope, encouragement and inspiration.
Continue reading at Religion Dispatches>>>