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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. Everett Wallace

    don't know neither

    June 27, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • Delusions 3:15

      Who asked you ?

      June 28, 2012 at 12:44 am |
  2. Jack

    Good evening. Everyone is invited to visit – thestarofkaduri.com

    June 27, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
  3. Star Performer

    Stuck in a very deep pit?
    I throw compassion into very deep pits until they level out.
    Then I grow grass on your very deep pit.
    Stuck in a very deep pit – with Satan?

    June 27, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • Linda P

      Oh My God! This guy's Jesus!
      I'm swooning already!
      My Saviour's here!

      June 27, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • kerfluffle

      What is a good grass blend for satan-filled pits? I'd think a nice fescue would do well, but maybe an ornamental shrubbery would be more appropriate?

      June 28, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
  4. Linda P

    Oh God! This guy's Jesus!
    I'm swooning already!
    My Saviour's here!

    June 27, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
    • Die

      Get on your knees and open your mouth wide then because Jesus is coming.

      June 27, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
    • kerfluffle

      oooo–bukkake jesus!

      June 28, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
  5. acts431

    By definition, the term "evangelical" means an ardent follower of Jesus Christ. Any person who calls himself / herself an "evangelical" and supports Romney has no clue who Jesus is and/or what true Christianity is all about. Please keep Jesus out of this! According to the authority of the Bible, Jesus would not support Mitt Romney in the least.

    June 27, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Acts431, Soooo ... you're voting for President Obama in the fall? Can he count on your vote?

      June 27, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
    • nottolate

      You're absolutely correct. As a Christian I will be sitting this election out. There is no way an authentic Christian can vote for a Mormon after examining their doctrine. You can't do it. And sense Obama is immoral you essentially have no one to vote for in the upcoming election.

      June 27, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • Frank

      Oh golly jeepers, I never met an actual True Christian®.

      June 27, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
    • nottolate

      @Frank,

      "Oh golly jeepers, I never met an actual True Christian"

      You'd never know it if you did at this point in your life. You are not endowed with the capacity to ascertain such.

      June 27, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • Delusions 3:15

      Wrong. "euangelion" is the Greek word for "good news". The good news is you're going to hell. Wanna hear the bad news ?

      June 28, 2012 at 12:31 am |
    • Delusions 3:15

      I met a "true christian". Then she told me she was "no true Scotsman", and I realized it was a a bunch of whoey. Whoey I say. Whoey.

      June 28, 2012 at 12:33 am |
    • sam stone

      "You'd never know it if you did at this point in your life. You are not endowed with the capacity to ascertain such."

      Are you?

      June 28, 2012 at 8:22 am |
    • fintastic

      "authentic christian", "true christian"

      Don't ya just love it?

      June 28, 2012 at 9:40 am |
  6. Mountainlady

    Has anyone ever noticed that Teaparty and Taliban have a remarkable similarity to one another? And look how much the Taliban has done for their country?

    June 27, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
  7. Richard Aberdeen

    Definition: "Teavangelical": Someone who promotes the opposite of what Jesus actually said and did.

    June 27, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • Lori

      Yep!!... Absolutely true!

      June 27, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
  8. bp

    This is a perfect match. Both groups use the devil's tools of hate and intimidation against others who disagree with their agenda, while claiming with straight faces that they are good Christians. Satan himself could not have contrived a more suitable marriage than between these 2 groups.

    June 27, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
  9. mike

    LOL CNN and the libral Agenda is amazing. This is the most bias news orginizatoin on the face of the planet.

    June 27, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
    • JE

      Have you considered reading a book? I promise; it will help. Maybe start with the Bible.

      "liberal"

      Unless all Democrats were born between 9/23-10/22 and you just coined a word for them.

      June 27, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @ JE – LOL

      And the irony doesn't stop there. Libra of course represents the scales of justice/equality/balance.

      "Libral" is indeed complimentary!

      June 27, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • nottolate

      Yeah and lots of censoring of the truth as well. Which just demonstrates the views championed by the libs are untenable.

      June 27, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      mike, CNN didn't write the book – a book hyping the right wing! Why wold a biased liberal (left wing) media outlet hype a right wing book?

      June 27, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • Delusions 3:15

      maybe follow it up with an English text. It's "biased". ut of course I always listen to people who can't speak English. I really really do.

      June 28, 2012 at 12:35 am |
  10. JMissal

    For once, it would be nice if a group would stay focused on one thing. The Tea Party is following the NRA by now getting off message and focusing in on other, less important topics. The fact of the matter is that a growing number of Citizens in this Nation and sick and tired of BOTH parties legislating morality...a topic government simply does not belong in.

    To the NRA: Focus on guns.

    To the Tea Party: Focus on taxes and excessive spending.

    To do anything else has, and will continue to, force many of us away from your organizations.

    June 27, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • JE

      And...eradicate the crazy (which would eradicate your organizations).

      June 27, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • JMissal

      JE, they aren't "my" organizations as I am not a member of either....and won't be until they focus on one thing. Introducing another idea simply further divides the message.

      June 27, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
  11. Missional Mindeset

    The days of the religious right's influence in America are waning. I believe the massive Evangelical sub-culture is already collapsing from is own bloated excesses. The most influential movements in Evangelical Christianity are the Emergent and Missional movements, which are decidedly NOT in lock-step with right-wing political ideology. In a decade or so, I predict we will (hopefully) be looking back at the Church's flirtation with far-right politics as another sad footnote of church history alongside the Crusades, the Inquisition, or the Salem Witch Trials.

    June 27, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • GauisCaesar

      Strange you somehow put Evangelicals on the same plane of the Salem Witch Trials. Because of that, I cannot consider your comment as even saying anything.

      June 27, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Why do you think this?

      White evangelicalism still correlates strongly with voting republican.

      A missional movement (and I don't claim any expertise with this term) seems to imply an external world (rather than congregational church focus). This seems very consistent with a motivation to make everyone else believe in Evangelicalism (and everything this implies, including voting republican) as doing 'God's work'.

      The 2000 Karl Rove inspired alignment of Republican platform planks with tenets of Evangelicalism had dissipated somewhat by 2008, but it feels like its back, maybe not to 2000 levels, but is presently a factor.

      June 27, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • John Proctor

      GauisCaesar,

      Watch (or read) "The Crucible" sometime. I'll bet you'll even be able to pick out which one(s) PRISM 1234 is.

      June 27, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • el-LEE-ot

      Not-A-GOPer: I think what he is referring to is not the missions ideology as we've seen it played out in the past by your neighborhood mega-church, but a philosophy of social engagement at the individual level that rejects much of what has made Evangelicalism so distasteful en masse. The "Missional Movement" (and to an arguably greater degree, the "Emergent/Emerging" movement) focuses on taking the focus away from cult-of-personality, church campus-based mindset, and turning it toward loving acts of service, justice, relationship building, and compassion. Likewise, it rejects the idea of an exclusive evangelical sub-culture that can legislate its morality on the body politic. I am a liberal Democrat who attends a pretty conservative church which describes itself as "Missional," and it's refreshing to be in a congregation that is more concerned about feeding the hungry, assisting the marginalized, and reconciling its relationships with people instead of trying to get everyone to vote Republican and segregate themselves into holier-than-thou enclaves. I agree with him that Evangelical culture is bloated to the point of ridiculousness, but I don't share his optimistic view that Evangelicals will completely divorce themselves from the GOP. Rather, I see this new progressive evangelicalism evolving into a third rail of Protestantism.

      GauisCeaser: I've been in some Evangelical churches that, although they never hung anyone for witchcraft, made me feel as though they would if they could. Considering Evangelicalism can trace its roots, in part, back to Puritanism, I think he raises a valid point there.

      June 27, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @el-LEE-ot,

      thank you for taking the time to write your helpful reply.

      The principles you describe do sound refreshing and a welcome change from more agressive testify! testify! outreach approaches.

      June 28, 2012 at 11:52 am |
  12. oodoodanoo

    For those of us who aren't tea baggers, we always knew they were the same thing.

    June 27, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
  13. atroy

    They are not taking back America; they are taking America backwards.

    June 27, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
    • RugDumplin

      atroy – Is correct back to 1950 we go!

      June 27, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • Truth

      Yes Sir. And thAt is exactly where this country needs to go back to the basics because it morally got lost along the wrong path

      June 27, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • David Motari

      No blacks in the white army back then, let alone in the white house.

      Is that what you want to go back to..?

      June 27, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • JE

      I love how people talk about our "moral" past (you know, when racism, hatred, segregation, Jim Crow were the norm).

      Nothing says Christ-like love than hosing down crowds of people.

      June 27, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • JE

      Ah, the 1950s. When everyone smoked 10 packs a day, boozed it up and where one didn't interract with other races at all.

      Ha.

      I have friends who actually think that I Love Lucy realistically portrayed America in the '50s. They have no clue about the television censorship laws or what reality looked like in the past. Ah, delusion and cluelessness. It's the American way.

      June 27, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • Frank

      You mean back to the 1950s where they demonized anyone who was not a Christian, put God on our currency and in the pledge? Yeah...the good 'ol days.

      June 27, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • sam stone

      Truth: Interesting moniker. When was America this moral utopia you seem to want to "return" to?

      June 28, 2012 at 8:33 am |
    • sam stone

      JE: I have an ex-wife who claimed that the 50's were a moral utopia. Of course, she was born in '61

      June 28, 2012 at 8:39 am |
  14. Andrew

    Who wants to be a theocratic turd?

    June 27, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
  15. Suzanne

    What ever happened to separation of church and state? It's in the U.S. Consitution.

    June 27, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • The Shawdow (Shay-Dough)

      No it's not

      June 27, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • Les

      Sha:

      The entent of the right has been explained by the ones that penned it. Both "explanations" agree on the INTENT of the 1st amendment. Quote "Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof", thus building a wall of separation between Church & State." Jefferson and Madison both said that the pertinent bill of rights section was written to "raise an inserperable wall" between religion and the government.

      Later letters of the founders went on to explain that the wall was put there to STOP pastors from telling a citizen who or what to vote for. The implication being that the civil government and the laws it makes is not the least concern to religious bodies. In general the court has held up this standard with few exceptions.

      It is very clear that the founding father's who DID NOT found this country on Xtian principles but rather humanitarian principles administrated through a system that was based on Iroquois governance practices. It is also very clear to anyone who reads their writings that the intent was to completely remove any religious influence from the making of civil law. Churches may be opposed to things but their opposition ends at the church doors. Period.

      Unfortunately, the Republicans, tea naggers and the evil-angelican cults have told their lies for so long now, the uneducated have come to believe them. It is time that NPO status be permanently yanked from every religious body that attempts to influence legislature or the election vote in even the smallest way.

      June 27, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • kerfluffle

      Les, if I was gay and you were gay, and we were both into it, I would make out with you right in front of 'Shay-Dough'.

      That was a stellar,, absolutely poignant comment on your behalf.

      June 28, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
  16. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    Regarding the premise:

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

    How do people who already vote Republican at every election, "swing the election"? This is nonsense.

    What the combination of Tea Party and Evangelical thinking is more likely responsible for, is the polarization of the electorate on issues where previously there was much more common ground.

    Looking at the Pew Forum research: "Partisan Polarization Surges in Bush, Obama Years; Trends in American Values: 1987-2012"
    http://www.people-press.org/2012/06/04/partisan-polarization-surges-in-bush-obama-years/

    Topics which show a greatly increased divergenge between Republican and Democratic voters over the period 1987 – 2012 measured include:
    – Social safety net (23 – 41)
    – Environment (5 – 39)
    – Government Scope and Performance (6 – 33)
    – Immigration (4 – 24)
    – Religiousity (2 – 15)

    From many of the graphs, the divergence appears to be accelerating in the last few years. Whether this is because of 'teavangelists" or because of conditions that spawn "teavangelism" is not clear to me.

    The data clearly measures a marked increase in polarization of the electorate.

    June 27, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
  17. bp

    Both groups have consistently demonstrated an infinite capacity for hatred and attacks on others, so this is a very good fit. Soon the Westboro Church will have its own delegation at the GOP Convention.

    June 27, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
  18. robert Martin

    I call them Peevangelicals.

    June 27, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
  19. Sheldon

    This religious nonsense is getting on my last nerve. If they get behind Romney, Romney will definately loose my vote. Actually he will loose a vast majority of the moderate vote...ROMNEY, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!!! They will cost you the White House.

    June 27, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • montag

      Get a spell checker, Sheldon. It's "definitely" and "lose". And if you vote for Romney, you're definitely a loser.

      June 27, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
  20. The Corrector

    You will only reap the benefit if you were indoctrinated correctly!
    BAD = NO BENEFITS!

    June 27, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
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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.