Tea Party as a Secular-Religious Response to Uncertainty

Posted: November 10, 2010 in Culture and movies, Obama, Race, Tea Party, U.S. Politics

All of the commentary, including my own, on why there is a Tea Party movement may have missed the most important reason.  Man turns to religion to explain the calamities and hardships that often befall humans.  The Tea Party movement may simply be a secular version of religion.  The U.S. people are passionately drawn to religion even as they attend church at low levels.  Thus, 44 percent of people in the U.S. attend church compared to 89 percent in Nigeria and 68 percent in the Philippines.  Church attendance tends to drop as people become more educated and prosperous.  The level of church attendance in the U.S. has remained steady in the last ten years only because of the in-migration of so many Latinos who tend to be poor and less educated.  It is an accepted principle in psychology that religion is one of the ways that humans reduce anxiety when faced with uncertain futures.

The Tea Party may have given many middle class, white citizens who are very uncertain about their economic and demographic future the same kind of confidence in the future.  They seem to approach the Constitution as religious people do the bible.  Seen in this context, Samuel G. Freedman argues

The denunciations of the Progressive movement, the New Deal and the Great Society by the Tea Party and its de facto televangelist, Glenn Beck, recall the religious battles throughout American history between literalists and interpreters of Scripture.

President Obama serves as the perfect foil, their devil as it were.  Thus, the Tea Party insistence that Obama is neither a citizen nor christian.  It also explains why they seem to think that Obama has done so many awful and treacherous things with health care and finance reform and the stimulus package, despite the fact that most Tea Party members stand to benefit most from these policies.  Without a Constitutional devil, there is no Constitutional God.

Add to this the correlation between Tea Party support in areas where people have generally less education.  We know that one of the impacts of higher education is that it makes people question religious faith.

Thus, the places with many Tea Part faithful appear to overlap a great deal with people who are not college educated.  Hmmmmm.

  1. […] reform, and government in general.  They are not just oblivious.  They are also resentful and fearful, primarily of increasing numbers of Latinos and other foreigners who, they believe, will tap into […]

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