February 23rd, 2011
05:15 PM ET

Tea Party support correlates to religious affiliation, survey finds

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

The Tea Party hardly claims to be a religious movement - it mostly advocates for smaller government and lower taxes - but feelings about the movement correlate to affiliation with certain religious groups, according to new survey data from the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life.

White evangelical Protestants are roughly five times more likely to agree with the Tea Party movement than to disagree with it, Pew found. American Jews, meanwhile, are nearly three times as likely to disagree with the movement than agree with it.

Tea Party supporters are "much more likely than registered voters as a whole to say that their religion is the most important factor in determining their opinions on ... social issues" like abortion and same-sex marriage, according to the Pew analysis.

"They draw disproportionate support from the ranks of white evangelical Protestants," the analysis said of the Tea Party.

Tea Party supporters comprised 41% of the electorate in November, previous Pew polling found, with the overwhelming majority backing Republican candidates, contributing to the GOP's House takeover.

The Pew surveys, conducted from November 2010 through this month, found that white evangelicals are the most pro-Tea Party religious demographic in the country. Forty-four percent of white evangelicals agree with the movement, while 8 percent disagree, though roughly half have no opinion or have not heard of the movement.

About one in three white Catholics and a similar share of white mainline Protestants also agree with the Tea Party, Pew found. Among those two groups at least one in five disagrees with the movement. Roughly 45% of white Catholics and mainline Protestants have no opinion about the Tea Party or have not heard of it.

Jews, black Protestants and the religiously unaffiliated are the religious demographics least supportive of the Tea Party, Pew found. About half of Jews say they disagree with the Tea Party movement, while 15% agree with it.

Among black Protestants, those who disagree with the Tea Party outnumber those who agree with it by more than five to one, though 56% say they have no opinion or have not heard of the movement.

About two-thirds of atheists and agnostics disagree with the movement, Pew found.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Atheism • Christianity • Judaism • Politics

soundoff (313 Responses)
  1. Azbearhuntr

    Also I think its funny how so many liberal folks make perverted comments about the tea party members yet in the same breath attack Palin for something less hateful. You will attack Beck for being hateful when you have to edit and clip his comments like crazy to make it seem like he said something he didnt and you will support the unions who post a "take down those b*s*ar*s" song on their website (SEIU) yet try to blame the tea party movement on a non politically affiliated mental case shooting Giffords.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
    • lysander

      I was almost with you until you said the only way Beck comes off like a fascist ignorant hate-monger is by editing his clips. If by editing his clips you think the word editing means "recording and playing back" then you're right.

      February 23, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
    • GreenieInPA

      Someone still thinks Beck has something intelligent to offer? Seriously. I really thought he was on his way out to pasture.

      February 23, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
  2. ROC

    @AJ – backwards by whose standards? Is there some group somewhere that decides on which standards are correct? Can't another group decide their standards are correct? Or are others standards wrong when you don't agree with them? If there is a hidden group that makes the standards decisions for the rest of us and you know who it is then tell us..

    February 23, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
  3. liz

    Tea Party supporters are "much more likely than registered voters as a whole to say that their religion is the most important factor in determining their opinions on ... social issues" like WHICH OF THEIR FUTURE EX-WIVES THEY ARE GOING TO MEET AT CHURCH

    February 23, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
  4. Romulan

    Let me guess. Most Tea Party members believe in Intelligent Design.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
  5. blake

    Am surprised that anyone felt the need for a survey to establish a correlation. Of course there is a correlation between conservative moral values, conservative economic values, and other conservative political views. And of course the reverse correlation exists.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
    • liz

      There's a big difference between claiming a belief in socially conservative values and actually living such. Just look at where the highest rates of divorce and teen pregnancy are.

      February 23, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
  6. Trevor

    Let the Faux Christians continue ginning up the rhetoric and showing that they lack intellectual and moral integrity. There are, however, two things I love about TeaBaggers – their face.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
  7. GreenieInPA

    I'm an atheist. I am socially liberal, but fiscally conservative. Due to the gross amount of federal and state overspending, I find myself aligning with the tea party these days.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
    • Azbearhuntr

      Great point! How dare they demand fiscally conservative policies!!!!! Those dern tea baggers are so dumb, how dare they believe in god! I am an atheist as well but I couldn't care less what religion they are a part of as long as they don't blow up women and children in his/her name. I am so sorry the democrats have run out of other peoples money, must be hard being slapped by reality. How does it feel to be a liberal and be out smarted by those "stupid tea baggers"?! HAHAHAHA I love reading cnn comments, liberals calling a group of people hateful and perverted names becuase that group supposedly uses hateful words....geez.

      February 23, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
    • lysander

      Because last I checked, all you have to do to prove you're not just a Christian Tea Bagger trying to make some offhanded point to disprove the survey is to say you're not doing just that.

      February 23, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
    • GreenieInPA

      lysander – nice sentence structure

      February 23, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
    • Zach

      I find it disturbing that you have to turn to what are predominantly religious zealots who support a number of causes other than supposed "fiscal" responsibility. I suggest you form your own party based off of rational decision making and disassociate yourself with those people, if you truly are a "conservative atheist." You, and the rest of the country would be better off and I would applaud you for being that responsible and active....despite the fact that I disagree strongly with your assessment of our current financial situation. If you do that and other people follow your lead then there may be hope that sane people will one day sit down at the same table and find a compromise and balance that rights this otherwise "sinking ship" that is the U.S.

      February 23, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
    • GreenieInPA

      Zach – you do realize that you just contradicted yourself? You said that you disagreed with my assessment of the financial situation yet you called the US a sinking ship. Or, scary as this prospect is, do you believe the sinking ship is morally? aaaaah!

      February 23, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
    • bill in pa

      But they're not targeting their spending cuts at anything other than their political enemies like the environment, science, and planned parenthood. I agree we are spending too much, but take a closer look at the bills and amendments they are passing and proposing and you will see their true agenda- a right wing religiously inspired hatchet job on some meaningful programs that benefit all of us in the long run. They are a bunch of myopic ninnies drunk on their power and out of control.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
    • Zach

      There is no contradiction in my statement. My analogy of "a sinking ship" was not meant as a comparison to what you believe is "too much government spending." And morals are not synonymous with religion. They can exist as a result of rational thinking. In my opinion the most healthy and practical lines of reasoning are similar to logical positivism and the Socratic method. When I make the comparison of "a sinking ship" I am referencing the burgeoning of polarizing groups...whether it be the Tea Party, Glenn Beck, or certain members of the left and right. (The list goes on and on)

      I believe religion and people's infatuation with the supra-rational is in many cases the cause of this. My point is that you would be better off forming your own organization or party rather than siding with one who has consistently used the tactics of fear, hate mongering, and spurious claims. That is all.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
    • GreenieInPa

      Zach – I agree with you that we could use a new party of reason and the bickering back and forth gets this country nowhere. I also agree that religion and morality are not synonymous. The religious don't understand that concept, however. Something tells me that you are privy to the upstart of just such a party that you recommend I start. Care to share?

      February 24, 2011 at 9:56 am |
  8. DP NEWS

    JUST BREAKING!!! A pole finds that a majority of the Democrats are religious and the Kennedy's are Catholic. For crying out loud, our country is 90% christian. I can do a pole to tie almost anything to religion.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
    • DP NEWS

      meant poll

      February 23, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
    • tangen

      or did you?

      February 23, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      DP NEWS, so Jesus is responsible for you being alarmed about teaching His truth on instilling honesty, decency, respect, morals, ethics, humbling individuals (to mention a few of His truth) so the person knows right from wrong while teaching His righteous truth (meaning what is good for you as well as every one involved) how to put your breaks on in life so someone doesn't get blinded by sin and have their ego jump on or over any one.

      Jesus Christ doesn't teach chaos. Satan owns that all on his own by instilling all the other silly new age religions in the world. Divide and conquer at satan's best folks.

      Humble yourselves to see/hear Jesus Christ's truth.


      February 24, 2011 at 12:20 am |
  9. Nodack

    Tebaggers are just offspring of FOX News.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
  10. Azbearhuntr

    What is destructive about their views? Every group has a "fringe" but for the most part they seem like calm, hardworking, intelligent people. They don't spew hatred (they are often accused but those who accuse fail to provide proof) and just think that people should make their own choices vs. having the govt do it for them. Keep in mind when Obama or someone else like NBC news "anchor" belittles this group they are attacking a large portion of this country. You can assume they are a bunch of backwooods yokels but in reality they are the family next door and your coworkers, they are normal folks who are being blasted for wanting to take care of their own life and they dont need the govt handing them assistance. I am not a member but I have respect for pepole who can calmy protest without a huge union or political backing helping them along. Astro turf they are not. Please don't allow for your views to be spoken but then hate others who have different ones. America was founded in part to allow us the freedoms of speech, you might think it's stupid to not rely on big goverment or assume the police are always right around the corner but there will be a time when daddy isnt around to save you. Maybe one of these tea party members will be close enough to assist you.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
    • lysander

      You realize you just commented on an article about the Tea Party right?

      February 23, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
    • tangen

      It is a movement born of fear from the recession. Very predictable and such movements always emerge in such times. They are unrealistically ideology driven, not accepting any realization that we need to take drastic measures to fix critical situations. They mean well, but are really driven by a view of the world that is too simplistic to be taken seriously. That is why they are marginalized. Same with the extreme left who want government to run everything.

      February 23, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
    • tj

      I believe most people would help their fellow man whether they agree on political, religious or any other personally held view. I hear so much from people about their personal relationship with God or Jesus. I think we should not be told what to do by the government. Nor should we be told what to do by a particular religion. Keep your personal relationships to yourself and make decisions based on what is best for this country as a whole. United we stand, divided, we fall. Quoted by founding Fathers Henry, Washington, et al, who also believed in separation of church and state.

      February 23, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
  11. texdave

    They are also old white people who are scared of losing their social security and medicare, so they back people who...wait for it....want to get rid of social security and medicare!

    February 23, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Well, keep aborting the children and no one will be around to raise, attend school, work to support the younger folks blogging on this post when you want to retire! Not to mention genocide of other countries.

      One big dust bowl with you fingers up ...

      February 24, 2011 at 12:09 am |
  12. rker321

    Mainly the Baptists are the ones the support the Tea Party, They are all mainly in the South.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
  13. Mooska

    I am surprised that there had to be a "study/survey" to determine that the Tea Party had strong Christian ties. It was/is quite obvious!

    February 23, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
  14. hobart

    Well, duh!

    February 23, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
  15. EWGuy

    AJ: Did you even read the article? There are specific religions that don't support the Tea Party.

    OCat: Interesting, because it said 41% of the electorate identified as Tea Party. That makes them not widely representative of America?

    February 23, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
  16. Trevor

    TeaBaggers = Faux Christians

    February 23, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
  17. nuttocks

    Study finds correlation to tea party movement, Hoveround ownership.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
  18. OCat

    Entirely predictable results. The Tea Party is not widely representative of America, or American values.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
    • ROC

      Yeah – that's why they are swinging elections

      February 23, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
    • lysander

      If by swinging elections you mean getting 2 reps elected and cannibalizing the Republican candidates, then you're absolutely right.

      February 23, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
  19. AJ

    Surprise, surprise.

    I never would have thought that the people with backwards and destructive political views were religious, what a find!

    February 23, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
    • ROC


      @AJ – backwards by whose standards? Is there some group somewhere that decides on which standards are correct? Can't another group decide their standards are correct? Or are others standards wrong when you don't agree with them? If there is a hidden group that makes the standards decisions for the rest of us and you know who it is then tell us..

      February 23, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
    • tangen

      ROC – yeah, groups can decide for themselves. But fundamentalists are pretty universally incorrect, no matter their religion. They have a very basic grasp of profound spiritual truths, which manifests and arrogance in all the wrong ways. They are young and learning, but they are not right.

      February 23, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
  20. Hersh


    February 23, 2011 at 5:56 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.