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. AstraNavigo


    Well, there's one good thing about this piece – because when the news finally makes it to CNN, it's official.

    (Hint: This is something the rest of us have known for at least two years – the Teabagger crowd is literally infested with Fundies – it is a Fundie movement, for all intents and purposes.)

    What's next? Telling us that Congress is full of morons?

    February 23, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
  2. Mark in Omaha

    Religious ties are one thing, but the Tea Party brings out the crack pots and Anti-anything but what they believe in component. Every Tea Party member I've met has at least some degree of Personality Disorder or is under educated.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
    • 2manyhorses

      Amen. Case in point, my rabidly Pro-NRA, Rush Windbag loving, Super D- Duper Tea Party brother who is not sure if he's suffering from not having a job for 15 years and letting his wife support him, or maybe it's an anxiety attack. Perhaps it was brought on by all the money he donated to Rush and his fellow entertainers?

      February 23, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
    • james

      The popularity of the Tea Party highlights the number 1 problem in America: poor mental health

      February 24, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  3. Will E.

    There are, simply and directly, no gods of any kind. Whatever politics you have are yr own business.

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

      That's why I'm a Greek Mythologist. 🙂

      February 23, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
  4. Michael

    Hey Josh,
    The guy driving the hot Camaro 425 hp is not Jesus of the Bibical days but Jesus Rodriguez of East LA. Good for a laugh in light of the Teabaggers who are the most HOLY of all. Just ask 'em !!

    February 23, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
  5. ronald malaney

    how about this poll, how many non tea party people, believe they should pay more taxes, and be controlled more by the government?

    February 23, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
    • Ryan

      If anyone is trying to give the government more power over your personal life, it is the Republicans.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
  6. Brian

    I guess I'm in the minority in that I'm a Catholic who disagrees with the tea party.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
    • sleepytime

      According to the article you are a majority actually.

      February 23, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
  7. Kevin

    Wow, how amazing. Most people in this country associate themselves with some form of religion so it's no surprise that most parties not entirely based on the lack of religion will have religious ties, or more precisely, if religious ties are what an investigator wishes to find, he or she will find them. Yawn.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
  8. AMH

    In other news: Scientific study suggests the Earth is round, and exerts a force known as gravity upon objects near it.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
  9. tangen

    I'm a pro-life Christian, so I can't be party of the Tea Party. I'm in favor of the Bible's over 2,000 directives to care for the poor. I'm yet to see charity cover 30 million unemployed or people with pre-existing conditions, and I certainly don't want a religious faction's money determining my health care options. So, I will stand with Jesus and Obama!

    February 23, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
    • tangen

      oops – I meant 30 million uninsured.

      February 23, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
  10. Larry L.

    I'm shocked! The next thing we'll discover is the tea party is comprised of Republican, right-wing wackos. Who knew?

    Of course the tea party is based on white, Evangelical Christians. Who else can go through life without any connection to reality? These folks can work in the total absence of logic. Look at the nut cases they support!

    February 23, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
  11. Rich

    the_dude, polls always question a relatively small portion of a population, and Pew is well respected for their work with statistics and polls. If you sincerely doubt this poll, you should doubt every poll you see, no matter who did it.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
  12. ronald malaney

    looks pretty good for the tea party 41%. even 1/3 of non religious and how many of the other 2/3 believe in smaller government and lower taxes, but are against religion? how many of those against the tea party, are actually for smaller government and or lower taxes, but just don't trust the movement?

    February 23, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
  13. Zeke2112

    This just in: water wet, bacon tasty, and oxygen necessary for life.

    The insane couple nicely with the insane.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
    • Kevin

      I hope your realize that most liberals associate themselves with some form of religion as well. Most people of any political ilk do.

      February 23, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
  14. pa

    Really !!

    February 23, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
  15. Drew

    I recently did a poll that discovered that 75% of people who say they aren't familiar with the topic of a poll do so to avoid wasting their time answering a poll. An additional 82% said they didn't understand the question. Among these, 78% firmly believe that Jesus roots for their favorite sports team.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
    • Josh

      I don't know what team Jesus roots for, but I do know he drives a really hot Camaro.

      February 23, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
  16. Josh

    Wow! Radical Christian fundamentalists are hateful anti-gay bigots. Who'd a thunk?

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

      They seem less radical than the protesters the SEIU brought with them to WI, they seem less radical than the protesters at the G8 meetings. ome to think of it, there were more "hitler" signs on the democratic side of the WI debate than there has been at all the tea party gatherings combined. Hypocricy at its best Josh. Just becuase someone has different views than you doesn't make them crazy. If there weren't a lot of poeple that shared the views of the Tea Party then it wouldn't exist. MILLIONS of americans regardless of their faith want smaller gov't and more fiscal responsibility.

      February 23, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
    • JacklynD

      @Arizona BearHunter

      If you truly believed in more responsible government you would not be a Tea Party member or a Republican. Historically our country has prospered more under Democrats than any Republican. The unfortunate thing about not using critical thinking skills is it makes you the perfect candidate for manipulation by lies and paranoia which is the stock in trade of the GOP.

      February 23, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
  17. abby

    I am a Christian and cannot support the Tea Party; it is an anathema to the teaching of Jesus.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
    • nickc1969

      Sure, the New Testament is clearly full of references to Jesus advocating Big Government and higher taxes.

      February 23, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
    • Tom C

      nickc1969: "Sure, the New Testament is clearly full of references to Jesus advocating Big Government and higher taxes."

      Maybe not, but it is full of references to Jesus loving his neighbor unconditionally. The racism hidden just beneath the Tea Party's delightfully patriotic surface is something the big guy would frown upon. Every Tea Partier I've ever met was racist, and I've met enough to not want to meet any more.

      February 23, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
    • GreenieInPA

      Okay. So your first problem is believing in fairytales.

      February 23, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
    • randybuist

      You are right. While Jesus didn't address big government, he told us to care for the poor and marginalized in society. He also taught that our money isn't our own, and we should use it for good. Feeding, clothing, and giving shelter to the poor may have a place in the teaching of Jesus regardless of who does the work.

      February 23, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
    • nickc1969

      You realize that voting to force someone else to help poor people isn't the same as actually helping poor people yourself, right? What an easy ticket to heaven that would be.

      February 23, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
    • liberal christian

      How can conservatives claim to be Christian? Jesus was as liberal as they come!

      February 23, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
    • nickc1969

      "Conservative" and "liberal" are political philosophies that address how government should be organized. Christianity, aside from being primarily a religion, is a philosophy that deals with how individuals should conduct themselves and act towards one another. Jesus was neither a liberal or a conservative; he was an altruist and a humanitarian, and/or a god depending on your beliefs. Anyone who tries to use him to validate their own political inclinations is shameless.

      February 23, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
    • liberal christian

      nice, intelligent reply. thank you. looks like lots of our politicians are 'shameless', though. aren't most humanitarians liberal?

      February 23, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
    • nickc1969

      LC, I appreciate your thoughtful consideration. I'm a Libertarian, so I doubt I'll make many people happy here. I do think religion tends to be shamelessly co-opted by conservative politicians far more often than by liberals. I've seen at least one major study that showed conservatives were significantly more charitable than liberals though. I doubt Jesus was a fan of the power of gov't, considering what it did to him, but that could be Libertarian projection. I think Jesus was for humanity as a whole and for every person as an individual, rather than behind any group or their cause. He was more about convincing people to help each other than forcing them to at spear-point. There's not much redemptive promise for the people directing the spears, holding the spears, or facing the spears.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:36 pm |
  18. Joe Lone Eagle

    Tea Party aka American Taliban.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
  19. JB

    The Tea Party is the far right wing of the Republican Party, that's it. They claim to have Democrats also, which is bs. I love how they huff and puff and claim they want to take their country back, with the threat of " don't tread on me. " Christ, they'd be winded after 2 or 3 blocks of marching......

    February 23, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
    • Regis990

      haha, 2 or 3 blocks...nice.

      February 23, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
    • Coffee Drinker

      Very few Tea Party supporters can actually march anywhere. The poll I personally conducted found that 63 percent of Tea Partiers are riding around on those Smarte Cartes – courtesy of Medicare and/or Medical Assistance.

      February 23, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
  20. the_dude

    Interesting indeed. Now I wonder how many acutal "tea party" members were questioned in this poll. Since I am a tea party member and no one I am associted with was involved with this poll either. I wonder if they took the poll at the DNC headquarters because no actual tea party person has ever heard of this scientific "poll".

    February 23, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
    • Aezel

      Right......because you and a couple of your idiot friends haven't heard of the poll it must not be true. "no actual tea party person has ever heard of this scientific "poll"." Gee, glad to know we have someone on the board that spoke with every single tea party member in America. Boy you must have been on the phone a lot the last few days.

      February 23, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
    • Darth Cheney

      Wow, you're a real science expert. You and your buddies weren't polled, so it must be a liberal hoax. The Tea Party is obviously a right wing movement, and most bible thumpers are right wingers so of course they are correlated. But fancy schmancy concepts like "logic" don't apply to Tea Party types.

      February 23, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
    • tangen

      You don't really understand polling. Either that, or it's the oldest game in the book. "I don't like the results, so it must be bogus because out of 300,000,000 people, they didn't talk to me."

      February 23, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
    • lysander

      Right, because polls mean that they interview everyone. You've found them out with your stunning logic.

      February 23, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
    • mistermanners

      of course you're a tea party member, you simpleton!

      February 23, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
    • ronald malaney

      and where did they live, because I have a large number of tea party members in my family and almost no bible thumpers

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

      The Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, launched in 2001, seeks to promote a deeper understanding of issues at the intersection of religion and public affairs.

      The Pew Forum conducts surveys, demographic analyses and other social science research on important aspects of religion and public life in the U.S. and around the world. It also provides a neutral venue for discussions of timely issues through roundtables and briefings

      The Pew Foundations have no politcal affiliations. They are a true Think Tank.

      February 23, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
    • JacklynD

      You are not white, religious and paranoid?

      February 23, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
    • Trevor

      The-Dude hasn't seen it posted on Facebook, so it can't be true.

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

      awww, come on, is you last name Palin?

      February 24, 2011 at 11:56 am |
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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.