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.
Earlier today, I opened a panel on “The Teavangelicals: Who They Are and Why They Are Important,” hosted by Zondervan and the Huffington Post, with some survey data on who exactly the “Teavangelicals” are. I pointed out that about 1-in-10 (11%) Americans say they identify with the Tea Party movement. Among those who identify as members of the Tea Party, 47% also say they consider themselves part of the Religious Right or Conservative Christian. These are the “Teavangelicals,” about whom panelist David Brody of CBN recently wrote a book, The Teavangelicals: The Inside Story of How the Evangelicals and the Tea Party are Taking Back America.
The event featured a lively discussion about the role of Tea Party members, white evangelical Protestants, and “Teavangelicals” in the 2012 election and beyond. I explored the issues where Tea Party members and white evangelical Protestants are aligned (mainly social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage), but also addressed potential areas of friction, where the presence of large numbers of white evangelical Protestants could actually shift the Tea Party’s goals (immigration and the minimum wage, to name a few.
To learn more about the intersections between the Tea Party and white evangelical Protestants, check out our fact sheet.