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5 Reasons ‘Teavangelicals’ matter
The cover of the new book "Teavangelicals." by the Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody.
June 27th, 2012
04:05 PM ET

5 Reasons ‘Teavangelicals’ matter

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) — It’s a match made in political heaven - evangelical Christians and the Tea Party. Starting in 2010, the two huge conservative flanks started coming together, forming what Christian Broadcasting Network Chief Political correspondent David Brody calls the "Teavangelical" movement.

Sure, the Tea Party was supposed to be all about money matters, its name an acronym for "taxed enough already." The conventional wisdom was that the group didn’t care much about social issues like gay marriage and abortion – those were the province of evangelicals.

But it turns out that the two groups overlap – a lot. That was one of the takeways from a Wednesday National Press Club panel I sat on that was tied the release of Brody’s new book, “The Teavangelicals: The Inside Story of How the Evangelicals and the Tea Party are Taking Back America.”

Here are 5 reasons why should care about "Teavangelicals":

1. Remember 2010?

In the 2010 midterm elections, the Tea Party helped the Republicans take back control of the House of Representatives. And evangelicals made up a big part of that group. According to a September 2010 poll by the Public Religion Research Institute, nearly half of self-identified Tea Partiers in 2010 said they were part of the Religious Right or the conservative Christian movement.

2. They might swing the presidential election for Mitt Romney.

Ralph Reed's group, the Faith and Freedom Coalition, is the prototypical Teavangelical group, working to ensure that the Tea Party and evangelicals play nice together. Reed has long been an evangelical whisper for politicians and Brody writes that he has the cell phone numbers of 13 million evangelical voters. Sounds like a strong ground game.

3. Teavangelicals made the GOP primaries more interesting.

2012 was supposed to be Mitt Romney's year. He’d run once before and the GOP establishment liked him. But he was not an early favorite of the Teavangelicals, who variously rallied around Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum. When those politicians talked about the free market and opposing abortion with equal gusto it was music to Teavangelical ears. At the press club panel on Wednesday, National Review columnist Robert Costa said Santorum’s Iowa caucuses win testified to the Teavangelical power.

4. They're planning to stick around for a while.

The Tea Party may have disappeared from national headlines, but they’re active at the grassroots. Brody said that Teavangelicals are winning seats on school boards, city councils, and county commissions. "The Teavangelicals have realized it's nice to get on FOX News and hold up a sign and be on the Sean Hannity show, but that's not going to get it done,” he said. “Ultimately you have to start at the bottom up.” He says small-time local positions are proving grounds for the next generation of GOP leadership.

5. They’ll be a crossword puzzle clue soon.

Brody coined the term Teavangelical the day after the 2010 midterm elections, when we were both at a press conference organized by the Faith and Freedom coalition. Ralph Reed’s involvement means the Teavangelical concept has legs. It’s only a matter of time before it becomes a crossword puzzle clue.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Politics

soundoff (450 Responses)
  1. 0rangeW3dge

    – – – the millstone around the Republican's neck.
    If they ever want the trust of the American people again, they will have to shed themselves of these extremists groups

    June 27, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • just sayin

      American extremists groups = Evangelicals

      June 27, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • bvilleyellowdog

      The GOP is them.

      June 27, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  2. bvilleyellowdog

    Sounds like blasphemy.
    Totally incompatible with Christianity.
    Regressives hiding behind he cross..

    June 27, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  3. huhb

    They want to "take back" America from their fellow Americans? I guess what the Tea Party and Evangelicals have in common is the inability to share.

    June 27, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  4. Solex

    One thing that burns me the most about religion is how people use it to justify their bad behavior.

    Case in point:

    An ordained minister was carrying on an affair with a church secretary. This "man of god" was married with three children. Eventually, she became pregnant and being a good Christian told the minister that she was having the baby and also that she was going to tell his wife.

    So he murdered her. His defense in court. It was "God's will" that the the woman be killed because she was evil and seduced him and was sent by the devil to end his ministry.

    And this is not even close to an unusual case.

    The religious wrong are always talking about how atheists are persecuting Christians for their beliefs.

    At least we don't blame god for our dislike of you and your stupid cult. It is our decision and we don't need to blame the invisible man when we make a decision.

    Religion for the church is power by controlling the masses. Religion for the member is just their desire to live forever.

    You tell me which side is successful and which one is J3rking off..

    June 27, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  5. RonFromNM

    It's the evangelical faction that's pushing me to vote for Obama. Holding my nose, but voting for Obama. The evangelicals haven't a clue that freedom means not imposing your (supposed) values on everyone else. I empathize with the financial concerns of the tea party, but the evangelical nutjobs? No way do I want to help their agenda.

    June 27, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • Solex

      It's a shame to think that there might actually be true believers in the GOP, but the fact is that the vast vast VAST majority are in it for themselves and there agenda and NO ONE else.

      June 27, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  6. Seoras

    Now that everyone is cheering the 'death' of the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street, is there anyone left to care about the massive national debt, or the endless foreign wars, or the limitations on civil rights by the Bush-Obama Nanny State?

    June 27, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • 0rangeW3dge

      "Bush-Obama Nanny State"???

      Generalize much?

      June 27, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • Thomas

      "Bush-Obama Nanny State?" Time to take someone's name in vain... Jesus H. Christ!

      June 27, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  7. QS

    Conservatism is regressive, oppressive, mean-spirited, petty, irrational, self-righteous and narcissism-inducing; it exists only because of selfishness, greed, avarice and a false sense of superiority created by a religious conviction that ultimately divides more than it unites. This so-called "movement" is detrimental to this country and to the stability of global relationships because it relies on isolationism and xenophobia as a means of foreign policy.

    Conserve the planet and natural resources; energy, water and food...don't conserve past societal structures and policies that favored only a handful of people and left the rest to fend for themselves in a system designed to make it as hard as possible for the rest to fend for themselves.

    June 27, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Which God??

      @ QS. Nicely said. Concur.

      June 28, 2012 at 9:37 am |
  8. lance corporal

    my traditional american grandmother had a term for folks like the teavangelicals = loudmouths......

    when I was growing up in the 50s we where not allowed to speak (especially of other people) the way
    these teabaggers talk, I would have gotten my mouth washed with soap for sure

    do these folks not have grandma's that taught them manners???

    June 27, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  9. Solex

    If I had one wish:

    it would not be to get rich.
    It would not be to have power
    It would not even be to have world peace

    No. If I had just one wish it would be to forever separate the idea that being religious and being moral are considered to be mutually inclusive.

    June 27, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Brenda

      You might achieve world peace anyway.

      June 27, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  10. Andrew

    When you use Jesus for the cause of Hate and Empire, you get an EZ Pass to Hell.

    June 27, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  11. Andrew

    Arrogant theocratists. You're worse than the Muslim Brotherhood, at least they HELP their people.

    June 27, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • Which God??

      Yes they do Andrew. They get them to blow themselves up. Problem solved.

      June 28, 2012 at 9:39 am |
  12. midwestmatt

    Tea Baggers are no closer to getting their way than either party is but for some reason they get a ton of press while they've actually done next to nothing except create gridlock.

    Why are we so concerned about a group that has so few elected officials in office that all they can do is whine and complain? They can't effect change or do much more than sit and whine.

    Remember the Tea Party were the group that attacked a Vietnam veteran at one of their rallies because he held a sign saying he needed government help because he was ill and they also attacked a woman who held a sign that went counter to their point of view and both of these events were caught on video tape and the Baggers actually gloated over these physical attacks.

    Tea Baggers are nothing more than foolish zealots who have no idea how our government works and zero idea about how they're playing in to the hands of the rich who need these idiots to vote in their candidates whose sole goal is to cut taxes on the wealthy.

    The Tea Baggers may think they're taking over but the only thing they're doing is screwing up the country even further.

    June 27, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • BK

      If you go inside the educational levels of a majority of T-Baggers and their moon-eyed religious comrades-you'll probably find out that they're all past or present "D" students

      June 27, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
  13. Brenda

    I wish there was a land unoccupied by no one other than natives that we could escape to to form a new nation.

    June 27, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  14. lance corporal

    OK tea folks but WHO are you looking to for "limited" gov't??????

    clearly the repubs have shown it's not them, the power grabs during the bush admin where disgusting
    they're not fiscally responsible/conservative either they spend every bit as much they just refuse to spend any $s in the USA

    and how are ANY of these "social" issues part of a LIMITED Gov't????

    June 27, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  15. Bill

    These Taliban conservative "religious" right wing radicals are not going to last long here in America. They have already had their 15 minutes and they need to pack it up and head back to Iran or Syria

    June 27, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • Seoras

      Except for the fact that Muslim fanatics in Iran and Syria and Egypt are killing Christians by the thousands.

      June 27, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  16. Paul

    The tea party never really had a lot of influence on anything although it was more powerful than the violent occupiers ever will be.

    June 27, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • Seoras

      The Tea Party & Occupy Wall Street movements were both populist uprisings against the Bankster Corporate elites and their Washington beaurocrat allies. They were just from opposite sides of the political spectrum.
      Unfortunately, they were both too weak to make a difference. OWS was crushed and the Tea Party absorbed.

      June 27, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • BK

      Kinda hard to be violent, when you are in the middle-aged to Senior age groups and overweight–LIke the majority of T-Baggers that I saw..

      June 27, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  17. Face

    And come election time... Republicans want you to forget all about them. Comedy.

    June 27, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
  18. Living History

    Thank you Colin, nice post.

    June 27, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  19. The Guy

    I don't even have to read this article to know that the book is a farce. The tea party's real premise is to revert to the original creeds and ethics of the founding fathers and the founding fathers were deists and atheists. By default this book makes no sense.

    June 27, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
  20. Rob

    Tea party of the 21st century is a revival of the National socialist party of the 20th century

    June 27, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • Darw1n

      Yep

      June 27, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • Seoras

      The National Socialists were actually a left wing revolutionary movement that sought to overthrow the prevailing social order, especially anything religious. That's why they called themselves 'socialists'. The fascists in Italy, Germany, and Spain were all revolutionaries. The Tea Party on the other hand seeks to conserve the social and financial structures of society. They are not the same, they are opposites.

      June 27, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • Bill

      They don't really call it "the nationalist socialist" party anymore – they like to call it "trickle down economics"

      June 27, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • WDinDallas

      Simple Reaganomics!

      There is nothing socialistic about it. And there was nothing religious about the Nazi's!

      June 27, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • arrakis1987

      A couple of facts here. First, Nazism is a *right*-wing movement. Although "socialism" is in the party name, Nazism is actually a fascist movement, as were the parties of Franco in Spain and Mussolini in Italy. One of the key aims of fascism is to eliminate communism and all forms of socialism. This resulted in conflicts between Germany, Italy, and Russia during the Spanish Civil War, and, later, during World War II.

      The Nazis were, in fact, very religious. They co-opted religion and used major religious imagery in their parades and propaganda. The Wehrmacht (soldiers) wore belts inscribed with the phrase "Gott Mit Uns" – "God (is) with us." The German Christian Church, the largest Protestant body in Germany at the time, was one of Hitler's biggest early supporters. This was not the "feel good" Christianity than many people identify with today – it was propaganda aimed at uniting the state behind a chosen messiah – Adolf Hitler.

      A dictator gives orders that are to be obeyed by all. Nazi Germany left little room for dissent, hence the millions dead in concentration camps. It is not a fair comparison to say that either major party in the United States is up to the task of murdering millions of people.

      That being said, the theocracy idealized by the Tea Party and the Religious Right would be the closest thing to a dictatorship ever experienced in the United States.

      June 27, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.