In its press release describing the results of its latest survey of political identity and religion in the United States, the Public Religion Research Institute expressed surprise at what it described as a large number of conservative Christians among people identifying themselves as members of the Tea Party: 49 percent. That statistic is surprising to me, but only because I expected the rate of conservative Christianity to be higher among self-identified Tea Party members.
An equally surprising statistic from the survey is that 19 percent of respondents identifying themselves as Tea Party members are non-Christians. That’s just a little bit lower than the rate of non-Christianity in the general U.S. population: 24 percent.
A word of advice to the leaders of the Democratic Party: Even after years in which you’ve pandered to Christian leaders, through efforts such as expanding George W. Bush’s corrupt White House Office of Faith Based Initiatives and offering special meetings for religious Americans only at the Democratic National Convention, the majority of Christians in the United States supports the Republican Party. Yet, the Christian portion of the American population is shrinking. The Democratic Party ought to cease its attempt to copy the Republicans’ theocratic agenda, and return to support for the Constitution and the separation of Church and State. This approach will appeal to non-Christians and to liberal Christians alike, bringing together an electoral majority that will continue to grow for years to come.
In the short term, Democratic support for the First Amendment’s ban on government establishment of religion would likely pull away a sizeable chunk of Tea Party supporters as well.