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The Tea Party and Religion

Sponsor: Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life
Released: 2011-02

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Conservative and Critical of Government

The Tea Party is much more Republican and conservative than the public as a whole. Indeed, Tea Party supporters are more conservative on economic issues and the size of government than either Republicans in general or all registered voters. Tea Party supporters were inclined to see corporations as making a fair and reasonable amount of profit.

Conservative on Social Issues, Too

While registered voters as a whole are closely divided on same-sex marriage (42% in favor, 49% opposed), Tea Party supporters oppose it by more than 2-to-1 (64% opposed, 26% in favor). Similarly, almost six-in-ten (59%) of those who agree with the Tea Party say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, 17 percentage points higher than among all registered voters. On immigration, Tea Party supporters are 20 percentage points more likely than registered voters overall to say better border security is the most important priority in dealing with illegal immigration (51% vs. 31%). About half as many Tea Party supporters (10%) as registered voters on the whole (22%) see the establishment of a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants as the top priority. Tea Party backers also heavily favor the rights of gun owners.

Influence of Religion

Tea Party supporters are much more likely than the public overall to cite “religious beliefs” as the biggest influence on their views of same-sex marriage and abortion. Roughly half of Tea Party backers said their religious beliefs are the most important influence on their views of gay marriage (53%) and abortion (46%).

Strong Support from Evangelicals

White evangelical Protestants are roughly five times as likely to agree with the movement as to disagree with it (44% vs. 8%), though substantial numbers of white evangelicals either have no opinion or have not heard of the movement (48%).