Polling Tea Partiers: More Religion Questions, Please

Via Kevin Drum and Mike Tomasky, a new poll out of the University of Washington Institute for the Study of Ethnicity, Race & Sexuality shows that committed tea party supporters in Washington state are, by significant majorities, hostile to civil rights for African-Americans, immigrants, Muslims, and LGBT people. Those committed tea party supporters represent 19% of the Washington state voters, according to the poll, and only 18% of them believe that gay and lesbian couples should have the right to marry (as compared to 41% of all voters).

Seventy four percent of tea party supporters (compared to 52 percent of the general population) agree with the statement, “while equal opportunity for blacks and minorities to succeed is important, it’s not really the government’s job to guarantee it.” But no, tea party supporters aren’t motivated by race, are they?

It’s Rand Paul-ish, isn’t it? I would love to know whether that 74% thinks, like Paul does, that “Christianity and values is the basis of our society. . . . 98% of us won’t murder people, won’t steal, won’t break the law and it helps a society to have that religious underpinning.”

A lot of the media pondering over whether the tea party can make common cause with the religious right has focused on the tea party’s apparent lack of interest in taking on the abortion issue. But that overlooks anecdotal evidence that religious right activists like Ralph Reed, participants in the Values Voters Summit and in the Freedom Federation are looking to form coalitions with tea partiers, and, as Joanna Brooks has discussed here, the influence of Mormon belief on the rhetoric of Glenn Beck.

Are there clues in the Washington findings that tea party supporters are far more hostile to gay and lesbian marriage rights than non-tea partiers or tea party “agnostics,” that they believe that gays and lesbians have too much political power (52%), and oppose engagement with Muslim countries (73%)? Religion, of course, doesn’t completely explain these views, could go a long way, seeing as the tea partiers are essentially the Republican Party (which has a solid core of religious right-ers). Given how these views on LGBT and Muslim issues align also with those the religious right, it’s worth documenting the overlap between the two groups, and what the religious belief systems and church-going habits of the tea partiers are.

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