Religion & Public Life With Mark Silk

Religion & Public Life With Mark Silk

Religion and the Tea Party movement

Is the Tea Party a religious movement? Over at Religion Dispatches, Louis Ruprecht says no, it’s an old-time rebellion against taxes and centralized government authority–as in the original Boston Tea Party and the post-Revolutionary disturbances in Western Massachusetts (Shay’s Rebellion) and Western Pennsylvania (The Whiskey Rebellion). On the contrary, responds Joanna Brooks; at least in her Mormon neck of the woods, the Tea Partiers seem motivated by traditional LDS views of the Constitution, resentment of the ir ownchurch establishment, and perhaps as well, a desire to recover some of that old Mormon fire-in-the-belly.


I’m with Brooks, and not just with respect to the followers of Joseph Smith. We know from polling data that the Tea Party movement includes a disproportionate number of white evangelicals. And while taxes and big government are the manifest motives, virtually all the politicians supported by the movement are on board with the agenda of the religious right. 

If we’re looking for historical precedents for the conservative, anti-establishment populism of the Tea Party, I’d propose the Know-Nothing Party of the 1850s. Officially called the American Party, it was a semi-secret movement arrayed against the existing political powers-that-be (Whig and Democrat). While their agenda varied from state to state, the Know-Nothings shared a deep hostility to the Roman Catholic immigrants who had begun flooding into the country from Ireland and Germany. They called themselves Native Americans, and they represented a white Protestant longing for the imagined stability of their forebears’ pre-industrial communities. For them, religion was of part-and-parcel of the program.

Mutatis mutandis, the Tea Partiers are the Know-Nothings of today: latter-day Nativists who long for an imagined past of small government (with Medicare, to be sure), of Christian values, of heterosexual white people running the show and people of color knowing their place. Yes, Virginia, it’s a religious movement. 

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posted June 30, 2010 at 11:13 am

I believe the Tea Party is a religious movement. It is chock full of right-wing Christians who want a small government utopia that never has nor ever will exist. But they take it on blind faith that they can accomplish this. Hopefully they will go the way of the dodo.

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posted September 3, 2010 at 1:12 am

A Christian is a person who believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and dedicates his life to practicing His teachings. There are many things that the Tea Party do and say that do not reflect Christian values. Believing in God does not mean that a person is a Christian, maybe just religious.
James 2:19 – You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!
Romans 13
Submit to Government
1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.1 Timothy 2:1-2
1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.

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