The Tea Party movement claims that it is reviving the Constitution, reaffirming the Founding Father’s original intent, and generally seeking the good of America through smaller, more limited government. But Tea Party ideals seem to fall more in line with the religious right as Tea Party activists seek legislation in favor of pro-life and anti-gay policies. In an article decrying these religious overtones, The Atlantic states that:
“A new Pew Forum survey offers some quantitative evidence that Tea Party members tend to be religiously inspired, social conservatives; the movement “draws disproportionate support from the ranks of white evangelical Protestants … most people who agree with the religious right also support the Tea Party.”
As recent Tea Party initiatives demonstrate, religion may be gaining an upper hand in Tea Party politics. The article mentions that attempts at banning Sharia law seem like an unnecessary crusade-like clash with the Christian right, the defunding of Planned Parenthood over the abortion-issue has similar religious roots, as well as America’s Zionist support for Israel.
Glen Beck also brought religious overtones to American politics with his rally at Washington, D.C, last August in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech.” Beck, who was joined by Sarah Palin and other conservative leaders, sought to return the nation to “faith, hope and charity.” The rally turned out more religious than political, indicating that Tea Partiers need to be clear whether they are seeking economic and political advancement or religion. Although religious ideology inevitably seeps through to government policy, one ought to make one’s priorities clear.
For all their Biblical rhetoric the Tea Party and conservatives have overstepped their responsibilities, even as Christians. The book of Romans says that rulers are to punish those who do wrong and reward those who do right, not become muddled in the ethical realm that is the responsibility of other institutions. Understandably all areas of life will clash with the government at some point, but Tea Partiers should focus on fulfilling government’s inherent task.
Likewise, the left should also focus on government’s essential role as protector and judge, instead of spending time trying to advocate its own ideological convictions. Yet as ideology is essentially a part of who we are as human beings, we will never be able to completely eradicate its influences. Tea Partiers just need to make their goals clear: economics or ethics?