Friday, October 22, 2010

Christian right and the Tea Party

Mentioned by Michael Gerson at the WaPo:
One intriguing finding of the recent American Values Survey is that 55 percent of Tea Party supporters believe that "America has always been and is currently a Christian nation." The figure among Christian conservatives is 49 percent. According to the survey, the Tea Party movement is less religious than the traditional Christian right. Yet a higher percentage of Tea Party supporters believe in a Christian America.

So what would account for this anomaly? Perhaps there is more similarity between the Tea Party movement and the traditional Christian right than is obvious, the overlap being obscured by an expedient public disassociation a bit like that of Sinn Féin and the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA). I am not completely convinced by accounts of the Tea Party's origin as mainly a tax revolt. Taxes are never popular but neither current taxes nor proposed ones are especially heavy by the standards of recent history, so why should a major anti-tax movement so suddenly develop now?

I believe the traditional Christian right was manipulated by secular, or at least non-Christian, neoconservatives into supporting their global hegemonist agenda by appeals to fear of Islamic terror. What if the Christian right learned practical lessons in subterfuge from the experience and now seeks to exploit the universal unpopularity of taxes and traditional conservative antipathy towards big government to advance a private agenda of its own? If it is true that a higher percentage of Tea Party supporters than the traditional Christian right believe in a "Christian America" then what will they prove to be really about if their candidates are elected?

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