Whereas the media minimized and laughed at the grassroots movements a year ago, these liberals now hope that the Tea Party could have the power to marginalize America's Christian voice.
-- From "Tea parties stir evangelicals' fears" by Ben Smith, Politico 3/12/10
The rise of a new conservative grass roots fueled by a secular revulsion at government spending is stirring fears among leaders of the old conservative grass roots, the evangelical Christian right.
A reeling economy and the massive bank bailout and stimulus plan were the triggers for a resurgence in support for the Republican Party and the rise of the tea party movement. But they’ve also banished the social issues that are the focus of many evangelical Christians to the background.
And while health care legislation has brought social and economic conservatives together to fight government funding of abortion, some social conservative leaders have begun to express concern that tea party leaders don’t care about their issues, while others object to the personal vitriol against President Barack Obama, whose personal conduct many conservative Christians applaud.
There’s no centralized tea party organization, and anecdotes suggest that many tea party participants hold socially conservative views. But those views have been little in evidence at movement gatherings or in public statements, and are sometimes deliberately excluded from the political agenda. The groups coordinating them eschew social issues, and a new Contract From America, has become an article of concern on the social right.
There’s little data on the disparate tea party movement. One small CNN survey of self-identified tea party activists found that 68 percent identify themselves as Protestants or other non-Catholic Christians, as opposed to just 50 percent in the general population. Only 9 percent of the activists say they’re irreligious, as opposed to 14 percent in the broader sample.
But an in-depth study of 49 tea party leaders by the free-market oriented Sam Adams Alliance suggested that the leadership consciously avoids social issues and plans to continue doing so.
She said that while many of the leaders held conservative views on social issues, “they were completely adamant that [the issues] were not a part of their agenda for the long term.”
“The reason for it is fundamentally secular, but a lot of people involved in it are not secular,” said Richard Land, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “I don’t see the tea party movement as a threat at all — I see it as additional allies and fellow travelers.”
To read the entire article, CLICK HERE.