Christian Right Aims for Tea Party

At the Washington Post On Faith blog, David Waters doubts the Christian right will join the Tea Party movement. Waters notes “this is an anti-government movement, not a pro-God movement,” waving flags “but not crosses.”

Yet the Christian right, long an indispensible part of the conservative movement and the Republican Party, is anti-government  too. It favors replacing government with a theocracy. The tea party movement wants to replace government with — well, that’s unclear, as is whether it would coalesce around the theocratic ambitions of the Christian right, either out of expediency, necessity, or ideology. Yet as evidenced, for example, at the Values Voters Summit last fall and in the new conservative site tvTownhall, the religious right seems intent on drinking some tea.

“During the Reagan and Bush eras,” Waters writes, “Christian Right movement leaders such as the late megachurch pastor D. James Kennedy held rallies with names such as ‘Reclaiming America for Christ.’ So far, it seems the Tea Partiers are mostly interested in reclaiming America for the Chamber of Commerce.”

But free enterprise has long been a mantra of the Christian right — it’s part of God’s plan to prevent the godless liberals from interfering with red-blooded American profit margins. Christian right architect Ralph Reed, so tainted by scandal he couldn’t win the Republican primary for lieutenant governor in Georgia four years ago, claims the two are one and the same. He tells the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody that his new Faith and Freedom Coalition is like “a 21st century version of the Christian Coalition on steroids” and is a natural fit with the tea party movement:

We have an awful lot of the tea party organizers who are active in faith and freedom and I think two of the five or six national steering committee members of the tea party patriots are personal friends of mine that I’ve worked with. . . . And so those friendships and that cooperative relationship predates the tea party movement. . . . an awful lot of those tea party patriots are social conservatives. So again it really isn’t an either-or.

To portray this coalition, Reed expands the definition of “moral values” as including opposition to government and the conservative movement’s economic bogeyman, the national debt. He maintained, “social conservatives are realizing if you protect marriage and you protect life but the federal government is destroying our future through a 20 trillion dollar debt, you know, that threatens our future just as much as moral decay does. These are all moral issues.”

Sarah Posner, author of God’s Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters, covers politics and religion. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The American ProspectThe NationSalon, and other publications. Follow her on TwitterRSS feed Email