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. Bill

    Maybe the should change their name from the TEA party to the WEEP party (White Emptyheaded Evangelical Protestants).

    February 23, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
  2. GlennBeck

    Whites, Evangelicals, Racists, Radical Right Wing Jesus Freaks, Fanatical Faux Fox Fringe News Junkies, Delusional Extremists and NRA Gun Nuts make-up roughly 99% percent of the Teabaggers. The other 1% are Creationists... God Bless American Ignorance!

    February 23, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
  3. Soporifix

    Duh. Only people brainless enough to believe in creationism could swallow the Tea Party dogma.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
  4. srichey

    The american taliban has really been trying to make a move the last few years. I'm waiting for the inevitable backlash.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
  5. pastafaria

    If someone is stupid enough to believe in god, their probably stupid enough to believe in all of the other crap that tea baggers believe in. Why is this news?

    February 23, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
  6. Marge

    Wow, what's surprising though is that their Lord said in Matthew 5 "43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[h] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies[i] and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?"

    February 23, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
    • Marge

      Sounds like the last thing they'd agree with, doesn't it???

      February 23, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
  7. Steve

    I support the Tea Party, but I can not back it any longer after they allowed those Republicans who walked lock step with the Bush disaster to now claim leadership in their party. Kick them to the curb! The movement has no place for party of God, Gays and Gun issues. The Tea Party began with an understanding of the folly of the Republican fiscal policies of bailouts and their disasterous consequences. Yes, Obama picked up these same fiscal policies, but now with the only sign of dissention willingly accepting these Republican retreads we have no chance of any real change. The Tea Party needs to rid themselves of any Blue or Red baggage so we can actually focus on the issue which led to their emergence. These self proclaimed Tea Party Republicans and not Tea Party members unless the disavow their Republican party membership. Kick them to the curb or we will never change a thing!

    February 23, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
  8. 2manyhorses

    No duh! It's the new god squad vehicle.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
  9. JennyTX

    White evangelicals are associated with lower levels of education, so it's not surprising that they are tea party supporters.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
  10. Skippy

    Can't wait for the survey that shows many Tea-baggers are ignorant, poorly educated, easily led, angry, confused and frightened. Oh, yes – racist, too.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
    • carla

      100%. Can I have my grant money now?

      February 23, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
  11. Steve T

    We need religion in 2011 like a hole in the head – Muslim, Christian, Jew, they are all the same form of medieval voodoo that has cost us millions of lives and incalculable pain.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
    • George Guadiane Austerlitz, NY

      I would agree.
      We don't need "Religion."
      But we all have faith – in something, even if it is the idea that their is no God.
      Organized Religion isn't about faith or love or understanding. Its about power and money. It has been for Centuries. Every religion has grand places to display their faith. None of them have a place for the God of MY understanding.

      February 23, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
  12. Rudy2Shoes

    The correlation sounds pretty right-on to me. I remember when the tea party first came on the scene. I was ecstatic. I had hoped that they were not just another flash in the pan as so many other start-ups had been. Political orphan that I am I ran to them, arms outstretched, teary eyed and crying “mommy-mommy”. My first nanny (the Democratic Party) had been abusive; stealing my stipends and my lunch money and abandoning me right after elections. The new nanny seemed kind and sincere at first but soon became scary and freakish. She babbled and was nonsensical. She reeked of dirty money. When I asked if everything would be “OK” now she shrugged and smiled. I asked where we were going and she replied, we don’t know, but we are never coming back”, as though oblivion was a destination. Then she asked me for my lunch money.
    Let’s see? Singing patriotic songs and wearing ridiculous costumes= check. Lots of praying and chanting= check. Definite correlation!
    As a working class American and no stranger to political homelessness I think I can hang on a while longer for a party guided and funded by those it serves. The Tea Party ain’t it!

    February 23, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
  13. Dave

    You need a survey to tell you that the tea party is nothing but the same old rabid right wing of the repulican party? Everyone already knows this.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
  14. yoda

    The other major correlate is probably education. I'll bet that even Tea Party members who appear, at least on paper to actually be well educated (have a college degree or beyond), are actually pretty ignorant when it comes to finance and government issues. All you need to do is talk to/question/challenge a Tea Party supporter to quickly understand that they are pretty much clueless with regard to our system of government. Sure they like the slogan of "smaller government", but if you ask them to explain the actual ramifications of what that means and how to get from point A to point B they sound like total uniformed and uneducated dolts, if they make any sound at all.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:38 pm |
    • Skeeve

      The majority of Americans, regardless political persuasion, are "pretty ignorant when it comes to finance and government issues." So, I don't expect much correlation here.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
  15. bubba

    Shocking! Next CNN will tell me that FOX news is full of right-wing nut jobs!


    February 23, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
    • carla

      I was told they were fair and balanced! I feel duped.

      February 23, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
  16. Cleveland Jim

    Yeah religious folks aren't nuts, they just believe in virgin births and vengeful gods.It's strange how as people become more intelligent god seems to disappear, but by all means keep waiting.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
  17. George Guadiane Austerlitz, NY

    I don't understand the Tea Party:
    The y advocate for "smaller government" but still want THEIR medicare and Social Security.
    They advocate for lower taxes but, as a general rule are at or near income levels where they don't pay much in taxes.

    Who are they fighting for? The "Rich?"

    February 23, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
    • ricinsac

      Yes George – they unfortunately are plutocrats – they like most Republicans are only for the rich – they want medicare for themselves but not the least amongst us. the Tea Party is mainly racist and against all social justice. their graven idol is Sarah Palin, who became rich while damning the poor and those without health care. When you hear the Tea Party rant, just ask What Would Jesus Do? Probably ask God to forgive them for they know not what they do.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
  18. Me

    No mention of the fact that most blacks are Christian and Democrat.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
    • squealy

      That is because we are not discussing race. You can equate tea partiers to their left wing opposites, but you cannot equate tea partiers with black persons.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
  19. Steve

    While this isn't news, they'd argue that they are nothing like radical muslims. Why do these groups have the inability to think? They can't see how prejudice they are while hiding behind their bibles.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
  20. Jon

    Not a whole lot of surprises there.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
    • Jim

      What is interesting is that there is no mention of the percentage of athiest and agnostics that have no opion or have not heard of the tea party.

      February 23, 2011 at 7:48 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.