Tea Party, Christian Conservatives Have Strong Ties

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The rise of the Tea Party movement has been one of the biggest political stories of the year. Now a new study shows the strong relationships between Tea Party members and Christian conservatives.

The Tea Party movement is often heard to be about all protesting taxes and big government.

"There's a lot of us who have a dream now, and the dream is that government get off our backs," said Dallas Woodhouse, the North Carolina state director for Americans For Prosperity.

"The government has gotten far too big for far too long," said Dave Smith, a spokesman for Americans For Prosperity

"Faith, hope and love are not dead in America," said Dr. Alveda King, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s niece. "Hallelujah! We still trust in God."

However, new research shows there's a strong overlap between Tea Party members and Christian conservatives. Dr. Robert Jones, chief executive officer of the Public Religion Research Institute, led this study.

"We found that nearly half, 47 percent, of those who say they consider themselves a part of the Tea Party movement also say they consider themselves part of the conservative Christian movement," Jones said.

And some fiscal issues are issues of conscience as well.  For instance, Penny Nance, chief executive officer of the pro-family group Concerned Women for America, pointed out the huge federal debt is as much a moral offense as a fiscal problem.

"The fact that we have $13 trillion of debt hanging over our children and grandchildren is absolutely fiscally irresponsible and immoral," she told CBN News. 

Because of their dislike of intrusive government, the Tea Party is thought to be mostly made up of Libertarians, who usually share a "live and let live" philosophy on many social issues, but Jones disagrees.

"Among those who identify with the Tea Party, they're actually social conservatives and not social Libertarians," Jones said.

Yet, 63 percent of Tea Party members said abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, which is hardly a Libertarian viewpoint.

"Those people are well-rounded conservatives and they want to do something on the life issue as well," said Tom McClusky of the Family Research Council

Eight in 10 Tea Party members call themselves Christians and 57 percent of those label themselves conservative Christians. But for all the publicity the Tea Party gets as being a major dominating factor in today's politics, there is something important to remember:

  • Just 11 percent of Americans see themselves as a part of the Tea Party movement.
  • Twenty-two percent call themselves conservative Christians.

"It's likely that the Christian conservative movement may in fact influence the Tea Party movement more than the Tea Party movement influences the Christian conservative movement, because of their relative size differences," Jones said.

That fact suggests that the social issues so vital to so many Christians will not fade as crucial political issues.

*Originally aired on October 6, 2010. 

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Paul  Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Washington Sr. Correspondent

As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington, D.C., bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress.  Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulStrandCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/PaulStrandCBN.