Pew survey shows intersection of tea party and religion

Published: Monday, Feb. 28 2011 10:37 a.m. MST

The same tea party that elicits such staunch support from white evangelical Christians is also anathema to Jews, black Protestants and atheists, according to a new survey from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

Pew reports that 44 percent of white evangelicals agree with the tea party movement, while only 8 percent disagree (48 percent are indifferent). Conversely, voters are significantly less likely to profess support for the tea party if they are Jewish (15 percent agree vs. 49 percent disagree), African-American Protestants (7 percent agree vs. 37 percent disagree) or atheists (12 percent agree vs. 67 percent disagree).

The study further reveals that tea party supporters are much more likely than the average voter to list religion as the determinative factor for their stances on major social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.

Robert Jones, CEO and founder of the Public Religion Research Institute, blogs on the Huffinton Post that the new Pew results confirm the findings of PRRI's American Values survey from the fall of 2010.

Over at The Atlantic, Wendy Kaminer ruminates that the tea party's "religious inspiration" is bad news.

"There's nothing new about the religious right's drive for political power, which helped sweep Ronald Reagan into the White House in 1980, when liberal stalwarts were swept out of the Senate. What does seem new is the increased dominance of the Republican Party by sectarian religious extremists and their acquisition of power during a prolonged economic crisis and even longer war — a period marked by national pessimism, fear of terror, and a bipartisan assault on civil liberty unprecedented in its scope (thanks to technology) if not its intentions. In other words, what's worrisome is our vulnerability, susceptibility to demagoguery, and diminishing margin of error. We don't have time for the unexamined certitudes of religious zealotry.

CNN's Belief Blog also has thoughts on the new Pew findings.

e-mail: jaskar@desnews.com

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