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. GD

    Everyone is free to have their beliefs, that's a big part of why this country is great. The real message here to people that do not believe as the Tea Party is to get off the couch & vote next time! These folks are a minority, but it sure won't seem that way if all the apathy remains & the rest of us won't do something about it. And their say isn't all bad, just needs moderation.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
  2. Kandid1

    So what; Obama supporters are irresponsible socialists & his union cronies are greedy communists.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
    • jimm

      As opposed to the tea baggers that are funded by billionaires who want to destroy the middle class?

      February 23, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
    • Jay

      There is an actual Socialist party in the U.S., genius. They ran Brian Moore for president in 2008. But feel free to continue making stuff up. It's understandable as right-wingers can't win an argument any other way.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:43 pm |
  3. Steve

    I know the article is about Religiious affiliation of the Tea Party, but something for all the haters to consider is both the Dems and the Republicans have specific religious affililiations too. My response to the artical is – so what? It really doesn't make them any different than any other party, that is unless you think your religion is the only correct one.
    As far as painting Tea Party members as crazy, did you happen to notice this was the cry of the Republicans and Dems who began to see their parties seeing them as a political foe? As divide and conquer tactic, they focus on the fringe and paint them as crazy and bury the issues of the opposition. Interestingly when it became apparent the Republicans could simply walk their candidates to the front of the Tea party due to the vacuum in leadership they suddenly lost the label of Crazy in Republican circles. It was at this point when I would argue they actually did gain this label by not kicking the Republican me too's to the curb.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
  4. Kelcy, Colorado

    It would have been interesting to know the age brackets of those surveyed.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
  5. kullyn

    The tea party I feel, is a racist, uneducated, radical movement
    It would seem that this illiterate movement (having Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman and etc..) is attempting to turn back the clock to when the church ruled the people. We all know today that being ruled by religion is absurd and retarded if you will. Please keep your beliefs to yourself.
    Government should be about ethics and not what we believe to be a supernatural being that created us because we have so many different beliefs in the world, and no one (unless died and resuscitated) can prove the accuracy of his/her belief.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
  6. Jesus Cristo

    Teabagger are jus a frikkking JOKKKE. And there is no GOD it is all a myth...

    February 23, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
    • GreenieInPa

      But of course there is, Jesus Cristo ... his name is Zeus. 🙂

      February 24, 2011 at 10:11 am |
  7. Russ

    Either way, religion doesn't belong in government!! GRRRRRRRRRR What part of seperation of church and state can't these morons understand. If churches were law abidnig taxed buisness like they should be there would be no deficit. Religion sponges off the rest of the country. Why the tax breaks for churches?

    February 23, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
    • GreenieInPa

      You got it, Russ!

      February 24, 2011 at 10:11 am |
  8. James Wilson

    Duh. Why am I not surprised?

    February 23, 2011 at 8:18 pm |
  9. billp

    No surprise. The hatred and contempt for others displayed by Tea Partiers is perfectly in sync with that of the Christian Right. After all, if you're a member of the Christian Right:

    1. You are on God's side and all others are not.
    2. You know God's will and all others do not.
    3. You will use the power of government to advance your vision of God's Kingdom here on earth.
    4. Anyone who disagrees with you is therefore against God.
    5. Those who oppose God are agents of Satan, and therefore deserve no respect, consideration or even basic politeness. And you never make a deal with the Devil.

    Christian Right = Tea Partiers = agents of intolerance and champions of bigotry.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
    • bill in pa

      you left out the second five commandments. your first five were right on the money.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:27 pm |
  10. Bannister

    From the article: "American Jews, meanwhile, are nearly three times as likely to disagree with the movement than agree with it."

    The political leanings of Jews is every bit as interesting and relevant as the political leaning of Christians. WHY are Jews so predictably left wing? Is there a connection between a "liberal media" and a "Jewish owned" media? What role have Jews played in shaping our culture? Our immigration policies? Our military intervention in the Middle East?

    These are all valid questions which we need to ask.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
    • Valid Answers

      It might have something to do with the fact that most Christians ignore the basic teachings of their own religion. Christ cared deeply for the poor and the needy; today he would be labeled a Communist by the very people that claim to follow him. I hope you'll think about this. It would be much more productive than attempting to create conspiracies involving those with beliefs other than your own.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
    • jimm

      maybe jews actually believe in a separatuion of church and state.,

      February 23, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
    • Kevin

      Rupert Murdoch (a Jew) owns FOX News, which is clearly not a "liberal" minded news network, i think that puts the Jewish owned liberal media question to rest. Any news org that questions right wing dogma, is automatically considered liberal. Your question s/b why does a Jew own FOX News? when its message goes against the very nature of the beliefs of the average Jew.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
  11. Rev. Keith R. Wright

    It's because they can't think for themselves. Democrats are liberals because they think ouside the box and imagine possibilities. Republicans, as in their religion, need to be told what to do.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
  12. Steve

    To be specific the Tea Party whether they knew it or not was formed on Austrian Economic Theory. The Dems and the Republicans have both subscribed to Keynesian Economics (a convienent theory that believes you can spend your way out of an economic downturn – tailor made for politicians). If you take anything from the rants of the comment section at least take the time to read about the difference between the two. Understand that letting the Republicans annex the Tea Party has killed the movement dead in its tracks and only assured that bailouts and deficit spending would continue if either party is in controll.

    If you are a Republican (or a Democrat) you are not a Tea Party member. The party needs to stand on it's own feet. Leave your political baggage at the door.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
    • Jay

      LOL, yeah. I wonder who will win the Tea Party primary for president next year. Oh yeah, that's right, you all run in Republican primaries, and say exactly the same things the GOP has for years.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
    • GreenieInPa

      Kudos, Steve. I see a Ron Paul-ian when I see one. Campaign for Liberty started out great, but then the Palins, the Becks, the Limbaughs, etc. hijacked the movement. I disaligned myself with Campaign for Liberty for that very reason. I still consider myself a Tea Partier, just not by its current definition.

      February 24, 2011 at 10:08 am |
    • GreenieInPa

      Oops. I meant – I know one when I see one. Duh.

      February 24, 2011 at 10:09 am |
  13. bill in pa

    If being a nutball was a religion, membership would be 100%. Praise the Lord.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
  14. apotropoxy

    The poll results were entirely predictable.
    Authoritarian personalities are attracted to the simpleminded answers. Religious reactionaries huddle to evangelization's promise of salvation and Tea Baggers swarm to the political pulpit of profound ignorance.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • Moi

      It is kind of hilarious though that they chose tea bagging as name for their movement.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
  15. Name*Annie

    Also found by this survey, "obvious" begins with an "o".

    February 23, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
  16. PD

    Did anyone really need survey results to know that white Christians (particularly Evangelicals) define the Tea Party?

    February 23, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
  17. Scott

    They should correlated Tea Party involvement and IQ. Probably wouldn't find anything interesting.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
  18. james

    So, people with morals believe in conservatism. Correspondingly, people with no morals believe in liberalism. I didn't realize that was news.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:05 pm |
    • Observer

      Very simple-minded statements. Having different beliefs does not make you immoral.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
    • AngryAtGov1

      JAMES-CONGRATULATIONS. This is the most idiotic post ever seen on the internet. In history. Really. Congratulations. Your prize-a lifetime of invalidation and obscurity.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
    • PD

      Really? I read it the other way... conservative = shortage of humanitarianism, extreme self-interest and much hypocrisy (i.e., utter and complete lack of morals). Liberalism = thinking beyond your own needs and a wide acceptance of others.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
    • Marc Leblanc

      So you equate religion with morality, suggesting that liberals or non-religious people have no morals. That's a quite a jump to conclusions. Did you learn this from Fox News?

      February 23, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
    • bill in pa

      did you realize you make no sense?

      February 23, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
    • Matt

      The "moral majority" was invented by Nixon. It's not real, its just another political tool to convince the masses of the uneducated to vote for the GOP. Try thinking for yourself instead of thinking that anyone who does not agree with the GOP has no morals.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
    • Moi

      Your comment doesn't make sense. Conservatives and fundies are immoral to start with. Conservatives' goals is to get rich on the back of the people and drive the middle class into the poor house. The goals of fundies is to imposed their insane way of thinking to the rest of the world. The middle east has their fundies with Ben Ladin as a leader. In the USA we have ours with misc dangerous leaders, Robertson being one of them.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
  19. Baruch

    All this hype about the tea party is amazing. At most they are 15% of voters, at most, and yet through the combination of corporate money (thank you supreme court), incredible inaccuracy in the media lying about the tp's numbers, and outright bullying by tp politicians, they are seeking to take over this country, break the middle class entirely, continue with a war economy, and completely turn everything over to the corporations. All the shrill anachronistic cries of "socialism!" are meaningless. Right now people are rising up all over the world for freedom and the tiny tea party is trying to turn the US into a completely totalitarian state. Pretty weird!!

    February 23, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
    • james

      It's the typical rabid liberal nutjobs. They do the same thing to Palin. If you don't believe in their message you're evil. An abundance of tolerance.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
    • ronald malaney

      "Right now people are rising up all over the world for freedom " and so is the tea party

      February 23, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'It's the typical rabid liberal nutjobs. They do the same thing to Palin. If you don't believe in their message you're evil. An abundance of tolerance.'
      As opposed to the right wing line of either being unpatriotic or a communist you mean?

      February 23, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      '"Right now people are rising up all over the world for freedom " and so is the tea party'
      help! help! Im being repressed!

      February 23, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • jimm

      They may be only 15% of the population, but they funded by billionaires and have free advertising on Fox News.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
    • Tim

      The goal of the Tea Party for a balanced budget. How is less government related to a "totalitarian state"? Which part of a balanced budget are you against? 41% of those polled agree with the tea party. Wow are you not going to like 2012.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      '41% of those polled agree with the tea party'
      And overwhelming majority of those voted for repubs so its still way short of a winning majority.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
  20. hippiekenny

    atheists and agnostics get only the very last line ? ? Hindu's & Buddhist's didn't even get mentioned, so I guess they don't matter. . . I prefer SBNR (Spiritual, But Not Religious).

    February 23, 2011 at 7:57 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.