Mark A. Smith is professor of Political Science and an adjunct professor of Comparative Religion and Communication at the University of Washington. His research focuses on economic and religious groups, ideas, and influences in American politics. In his new book, Secular Faith: How Culture Has Trumped Religion in American Politics, Dr. Smith argues that religion is not nearly the unchanging conservative influence in American politics that we have come to think it is and is best understood as responding to changing political and cultural values rather than shaping them.
Many of the GOP primary candidates will be in DC this weekend, but not for a debate (I hear your sigh of relief. There have been a lot of those recently). They’re all speaking at the annual Values Voter Summit, a conservative conference with four major stated goals: to “limit government,” “champion traditional values,” “reduce spending,” and “protect America.” In addition to the seven major GOP candidates, speakers will include major social conservative icons like the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, former Attorney General Ed Meese, and the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown. It’s an important conservative event, so as you read coverage of the conference, take a look at the factsheet we compiled on the alignment of white evangelical Protestant and Tea Party value on key social issues. For example:
- Overlapping Identities: Nearly half (58%) of Americans who identify with the Tea Party movement also identify as a part of the religious right or Christian conservative movement. [Source: PRRI, American Values Survey, 2010]. Fully three-quarters (75%) of those who identify with the Tea Party movement describe themselves as “a Christian conservative.” [Source: PRRI, Pluralism, Immigration and Civic Integration Survey, 2011]
- Libertarianism: Despite conventional wisdom, only about one quarter (27%) of Americans who identify with the Tea Party consider themselves libertarians. [Source: PRRI, Pluralism, Immigration and Civic Integration Survey, 2011]
For more numbers on abortion, same-sex marriage, the death penalty, and the economic “earthquake,” and where the Tea Party and white evangelical Protestants fall on all of these issues, read over the factsheet.