The Theology of the Tea Party

The insurgent "Tea Party" movement is rising, gaining new strength in the Republican Party. The movement has put forward many confident standard-bearers for the November election and has popular talk-show hosts such as Glenn Beck as its evangelists.

While the Tea Party is not one-dimensional and has no single spokesperson, its political commitments are rooted in the libertarian philosophy, which is not a new phenomenon in America (see the sidebar on one of its chief philosophers, Ayn Rand, on p. 21). Libertarianism, like other brands of conservatism and liberalism, is a political philosophy more than a religious one, and the Tea Party, while not yet as organized, is like the Democratic and Republican parties in seeking political power.

It is a secular movement, not a Christian one. As with both major political parties, some people who regard themselves as Christians are involved in, or sympathetic to, the new Tea Party, but that doesn’t make it "Christian." And like the philosophies and policies of the major political parties, the new Tea Party can legitimately be examined on the basis of Christian principles -- and it should be. Just how Christian is the Tea Party movement and the libertarian political philosophy behind much of it?

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Sojourners Magazine November 2010
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