NEWS: Tea Party Movement is Religious?

Tea Party Protest in Austin, Texas on July 4, 2009

This week news sources have concentrated on the results of the June primary elections. While some news analysts have commented on the role of incumbents and female contenders, the most popular topic has been the role of the Tea Party Movement.

Amid the flurry of stories about the elections, religion scholars writing for Religion Dispatches have engaged in a conversation about the role of religion in the Tea Party. In his essay, “It’s Not a Tea Party, Silly, It’s a Rebellion. And it’s not religious,” Louis A. Ruprecht, Chair of Religious Studies at Georgia State University, argues that religion is merely a “veneer” for the movement’s economic and historical critiques. Writer Joanna Brooks responded to Ruprecht’s claims in a two part series, “Who Says the Tea Party is Not a Religious Movement?” Brooks argues that the Tea Party movement in not monolithic and bears some characteristics of a distinct religious movement linked to Mormonism. In Part II, Brooks expands her argument with an interpretation offered by graduate student Doe Daughtrey. Daughtrey explains that contemporary Mormons have found themselves “disenchanted,” “secularized,” and nostalgic for their unique religious identity in America.  The Tea Party movement fills this void. Others, like Brandi Denison at the Religion in the American West blog,  insists that regionalism cannot be left out of the equation. Denison posits that the Tea Party is better understood as an “entanglement of land, religion, and capitalism in the American West.” The conversation about the Tea Party movement and its relationship to religion only continues as scholars weigh in and midterm elections approach. To read another scholarly interpretation, see Christopher Jones’ response to the previously mentioned scholars at the Religion in American History group blog (found here).

Related Articles:
Phenomenology of Religion
By Thomas Ryba , University of Notre Dame & Purdue University
(Vol. 4, March 2009)
Religion Compass

Exporting the Local: Recent Perspectives on ‘Religion’ as a Cultural Category

By Daniel Dubuisson , CNRS-Université Charles de Gaulle-Lille 3 (Translated from the French by Arthur McCalla)
(Vol. 2, November 2007)
Religion Compass

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