Why the Religious Right is glomming on to the Tea Party

Several scholars of religion and politics held a briefing at the National Press Club today to discuss the role of religion and religious voters in the upcoming elections. Polling presented by Robert Jones of the Public Religion Research Institute and Gregory Smith of the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life included some bad news for Democrats (e.g., among white Catholics, party identification has flipped from a 49-41 Democratic advantage to a 42-49 Republican advantage in just two years), some potentially good news for progressives (there’s huge majority support across religious groups for a boost in the minimum wage), and some very good news for advocates of marriage equality (support for same-sex marriage is growing significantly). The data also include some bad news for Religious Right leaders, which may explain why they have been so eager to attach themselves to the Tea Party movement and why they were so willing to settle for a few crumbs from the House Republicans’ “Pledge to America.” According to Pew, when voters were asked about the importance of 13 issues to their thinking about this year’s elections, abortion and same-sex marriage were at the very bottom of the list. Special note to Maggie Gallagher, Robert George, and the Knights of Columbus: same-sex marriage was also the very last issue in importance to Catholic voters.