There’s finally a group that’s hated more than Atheists: The Tea Party.

Being an atheist brings with it a certain amount of… disapproval… by the general public. It’s something that I, and many other atheists, have mentioned on more than one occasion. Polls regularly show that atheists are less electable to public office than Muslims and are often ranked as having the lowest approval ratings.

If you’re an atheist who’s been bummed that our popularity is in the toilet, here’s a bit of news that should help cheer you up: The Tea Party has a worse approval rating than Atheists.

Polls show that disapproval of the Tea Party is climbing. In April 2010, a New York Times/CBS News survey found that 18 percent of Americans had an unfavorable opinion of it, 21 percent had a favorable opinion and 46 percent had not heard enough. Now, 14 months later, Tea Party supporters have slipped to 20 percent, while their opponents have more than doubled, to 40 percent.

Of course, politicians of all stripes are not faring well among the public these days. But in data we have recently collected, the Tea Party ranks lower than any of the 23 other groups we asked about — lower than both Republicans and Democrats. It is even less popular than much maligned groups like “atheists” and “Muslims.” Interestingly, one group that approaches it in unpopularity is the Christian Right.

Which is really weird when you think about it. The Tea Party seems to hold an inordinate amount of sway in the Republican party right now so why is it so unpopular with the general public ranking right down there with the Christian Right?

Probably because it’s more or less the Christian Right with new branding:

So what do Tea Partiers have in common? They are overwhelmingly white, but even compared to other white Republicans, they had a low regard for immigrants and blacks long before Barack Obama was president, and they still do.

More important, they were disproportionately social conservatives in 2006 — opposing abortion, for example — and still are today. Next to being a Republican, the strongest predictor of being a Tea Party supporter today was a desire, back in 2006, to see religion play a prominent role in politics. And Tea Partiers continue to hold these views: they seek “deeply religious” elected officials, approve of religious leaders’ engaging in politics and want religion brought into political debates. The Tea Party’s generals may say their overriding concern is a smaller government, but not their rank and file, who are more concerned about putting God in government.

Scratch the average Tea Party member and you’ll find a far-right Christian fundamentalist working hard to move America towards a theocracy. Given this is it any surprise that the likes of Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry are doing so well in their bids to be the next President. At least among Republicans.

The silver lining in the cloud of the Tea Party’s dominance of the Republicans is that it may very well keep them out of the White House:

Yet it is precisely this infusion of religion into politics that most Americans increasingly oppose. While over the last five years Americans have become slightly more conservative economically, they have swung even further in opposition to mingling religion and politics. It thus makes sense that the Tea Party ranks alongside the Christian Right in unpopularity.

On everything but the size of government, Tea Party supporters are increasingly out of step with most Americans, even many Republicans. Indeed, at the opposite end of the ideological spectrum, today’s Tea Party parallels the anti-Vietnam War movement which rallied behind George S. McGovern in 1972. The McGovernite activists brought energy, but also stridency, to the Democratic Party — repelling moderate voters and damaging the Democratic brand for a generation. By embracing the Tea Party, Republicans risk repeating history.

Many in the Tea Party have ties to Christian Dominionism and are looking at both Bachmann and Perry as a means to their ends of converting our secular government into a theocratic one. If you thought George W. Bush’s reign was bad, try to imagine what a Bachmann or Perry administration would be like. Hopefully the disapproval of the general public for the Tea Party and it’s policies continues to remain high.

14 thoughts on “There’s finally a group that’s hated more than Atheists: The Tea Party.

  1. 2006? I thought the Teabaggers crawled out from under their rocks during the 2008 election cycle.

  2. This is terrible! Oh, how I relished being a proud member of the most hated group in America (atheist). And now it is over. Where is the justice?

  3. 2006? I thought the Teabaggers crawled out from under their rocks during the 2008 election cycle.

    They first germinated during Bush’s term. Though, of course, they did not attain their current size/prominence until Obama’s ascendancy. The racists and the Republican lobbyists really help fill out the ranks. Not to mention Fox “News'” wholesale adoption of one side of the debate, “Fair and Balanced” as we well know. Once Obama won the presidency Fox lifted the Teabaggers out of obscurity almost as fast as it gave up its “supporting the president during a time of war” slogans.

    This is terrible! Oh, how I relished being a proud member of the most hated group in America (atheist). And now it is over. Where is the justice?

    That was also my first reaction.

    I think Les highlighted the most salient point about the Tea Party; the social conservatism and dominionism lurking behind their pretenses of small government and libertarianism. In 2010 many/most of their major candidates were anti-abortion, spoke against the separation of church and state. The same is true of Rand Paul, Bachmann, etc. Barry Goldwater would not be pleased. There is no difference between the Republicans of 2004 and the Republicans/Pee Party of 2010-2011, except that they now pretend to oppose war because it distances them from the hated Bush years and allows them to criticize Obama’s hawkish foreign policy. I’m sure 99% of people in the Tea Party today voted Bush and supported the Iraq war, deficits be damned. Bachmann was pro-Iraq War, Beck was, Palin was. Where was the concern about debt then, when it mattered most, and when greater economic stability did not require government spending?

  4. Rotten at the core

    Hegel joked that “logic cannot lure a dog from beside a warm stove.”

    Like Hegel’s warm stove, xianity is irrefutable — has been from its earliest days. To make modern comparisons it enjoys the same status as other dogma, marxism and freudianism. Core ideological commitments are beyond discussion. That’s Karl Popper’s no doubt correct view.

    Despite sprigs of rationality from platonic idealism to many-world logics grafted by theologians onto its poisonous roots, xian growths are deformed fruit of their death cult. Nihilism — with its inverted snobbery — has stunted western cultural health since P/Saul of Tarsus (fl 50-68 CE):

    Brothers… not many of you were wise…; not…influential; not…of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things…to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things…and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are…1Cor1:26-28 NIV.

    Tacitus viewed xianity as “a religion fit for slaves.” The Romans, usually tolerant in matters religious, felt compelled to punish what they called xian “obstinacy” — a behavioral correlate to inverted snobbery. Clinging to xian dogma led to death, “martyrdom”. Fundies hallow a notorious parentage.

    But, scratch any “moderate” xian and you must find irrefutable lies — as protestants like Luther and Kierkegaard amply demonstrate.

    Theology is fifth-rate fan fiction. Xianity cannot be refuted; it can only be dismantled. The de-deification of culture (including all the sciences) is our task for the next 100 years.

    the anti_supernaturalist

  5. The article you cite certainly focuses on what is probably the least desirable trend within the Tea Party, although I see no polling data to back it up. Most from the middle to the left do not want religion in the public debate, and I concur; so, if we are able to brand the Tea Party as dominionists, we also succeed in stacking the majority of the country against them. I have not so much as had a conversation with a Tea Party member, but I went to http://theteaparty.net and these are the principles they cite:

    • Limited federal government
    • Individual freedoms
    • Personal responsibility
    • Free markets
    • Returning political power to the states and the people

    I propose that we will find some dominionists within the Tea Party simply because it’s a good bet that there are a fair number of fundamentalists, and where you find fundamentalists, you will also find dominionists. But I question whether branding this group that way is fair. Voting for candidates who hold the same faith as you is not a novel concept. Not that the TP is going to get a fair shake. A majority of media members have already labeled them racist, secessionist, anti-government, bigoted, uneducated, etc. And I haven’t heard any media members mention that responsible government spending would be a revelatory concept that could actually help our nation in many ways. Tea Party politicians have pissed me off at times; for example, those who refused to consider any plan to raise the debt ceiling. But I’ve heard people blame the whole debt crisis on them, which is ignorant, false, disingenuine, and in stark contrast to some of their core principles. Yet some people believe it, and those poll numbers, in part, show the power of the media.

    Do I want to see the Tea Party become a more prominent part of the political landscape in America? No. Do I want to see them become a “third party?” No (and it’s not going to happen). But do I see the good that could come of the Tea Party putting pressure on our “representatives” to be fiscally responsible? To balance the budget? To create a plan to prevent us from raising the debt ceiling periodically? Yes.

    And I really don’t fear their fundamentalism or dominionism. Years of court rulings have kept religion from influencing the government, and vice versa. And the ACLU is always present to preserve such necessary principles. So if you want to paint all (or most) Tea Party members as radical crusaders who want to see an inquisition of our elected officials, the freedom is yours. I just don’t want to see the polls end up with over 75% of Americans viewing the Tea Party unfavorably, rendering them impotent to affect the fiscal responsibility of our government.

    By the way, you should HOPE that Rick Perry or Michelle Bachman win the Republican nomination. They are WAY too far right to challenge President Obama. The media has already begun to tear them to shreds, they both have already provided fodder, and will likely continue to do so. IMHO, the only candidates to fear would be more moderate ones like Romney or Giuliani (who’s not even running). If the Tea Party plays a big role in determining the Republican nominee, that will be all she wrote.

  6. Soloscat, balance sheets have both income and outgo. Right now the government can actually borrow money below 1%, and we’re in a recession. It’s downright idiotic not to be stimulating demand at this time.

    As for “labeling” tea party candidates as uneducated, bigoted, etc., I make decisions like that on the basis of quotes and actions. I can’t regard anyone as educated if they deny evolution and anthropogenic global warming, and then they want to set environmental and educational policy. When they raise their hands to reject any deal with any new revenue, even at a ratio of 10:1, and then they want to set economic policy, I tend to think they’re just idiotic. The government can borrow right now at less than 1%, and our high-income tax rates reflect a very NOT budget-neutral Bush tax cut that can’t seem to expire on schedule. Balancing the budget with no new revenue (more correctly a restoration of old revenue), during a recession, means cutting the feet right out from under demand, which is what stimulates growth.

    I cannot in good conscience hope for batshit candidates in any party. Better Republicans means better Democrats, which is better for the country.

  7. Well, I see that being interrupted while writing a comment can lead to repetition. Also to saying something again that you’ve already said before.

  8. I agree with nearly everything you wrote. Of course we had to continue borrowing. That was unavoidable, and thus the TP stance that raising the debt ceiling was off the table was foolish. Same for raising taxes. Their rhetoric was unrealistic. But I don’t believe we can continue with the current deficit. Borrowing without control, and with no end in sight is also foolish.

    And denying evolution is not on the TP’s platform, as far as I know. Again, I haven’t talked to anybody personally, and I haven’t seen any polls indicating what percentage would deny evolution. Making THAT a foundational element in evaluating the TP is what I have a problem with. Because there are SOME who would deny evolution (how many or what %, I have no idea), does that make it one of the foundational points on which to judge the TP? Doesn’t make sense to me. I’d rather see them judged on their core principles. If I met a TP leader, and asked him or her what their core principle are, I am quite certain evolution wouldn’t be mentioned. It’s quite possible that religion wouldn’t be mentioned outside of ensuring the government doesn’t interfere with freedom of religion and vice versa. So I have my doubts about dominionism being a main goal; it certainly isn’t how I understand the TP. Maybe I’m dead wrong, and they would say they want only fundamentalists elected to office. But I find it more likely that the minority who would spout such rhetoric are the minority who are uneducated and bigoted, and not those in leadership positions.

    If somebody asked me my thoughts on the TP, I would explain that they want to decrease the role of the Federal Government, give more power to the states, limit taxation and borrowing, & promote fiscal responsibility in government. I’d also emphatically state that they are trying too hard to demand that we accomplish these things in an instant with their refusal to compromise in the debt crisis debate. And I’d also mention that they tend to be to the right on social issues, although there are probably plenty of independents and social moderates who share their core principles. However, one reason they rejected deals that to you and I would seemed to be tilted in their favor is that any resolution made could be overturned by the next Congress. I still think it was unreasonable, and didn’t engender any love from the middle-left, but a deal was done, despite their opposition.

    There is no doubt there are some crazies in the TP. But I believe there are also some people who simply want to see America prosper, and be the traditional melting pot, land of opportunity, etc.

    I understand calling them idiots based on policy. There’s the “action” you mentioned. But painting the entire group as uneducated and bigoted is not something I’m prepared to do unless I see some reliable polling data; quotes just aren’t going to do it for me, unless they are from TP leadership. I hate it when conservatives claim that anybody to the left of the middle is out to bankrupt our government, eliminate religious freedom and other Consitutional rights, and hand us over to terrorists. Sounds like some political ads we’ve seen, huh? So I’m just for consciously formulated rhetoric, rather than labeling certain groups as dangerous fringe radicals. If better candidates in one party results in better candidates in another party, then maybe having a group whose main goal is to limit Federal spending could actually help balance things out as well. Now, the person who believes that our growing debt is really not a problem will likely dismiss everything I’ve written, and might as well write off the TP as an utterly ridiculous movement with an agenda that can offer no benefit to the people or the government. It’s possible that everybody reading this will shrug and say, “Yeah, that sounds about right to me.” And I’ll live with that.

    I guess as I slowly come to better understand the issues our nation faces, I accept the different groups on the political scene as a part of the system, and believe that they all balance each other out around a center point. That’s not to say that’s the best way to view things. And it’s not to say that we shouldn’t cry out against elements we believe could be dangerous.

  9. Solocat, you are taking their platform at face value. Nobody knows better what the Tea Party constituency wants than the TP candidates, who to an individual deny evolution and anthropogenic global warming. To candidates who say it is not relevant to governance I reply that public officials have to make decisions that pivot on scientific issues – and if they are science-deniers then Houston, we have a problem.

    And no, their main goal isn’t to limit federal spending – polls put them squarely in the “don’t touch military budget” camp and on that score we are way out of proportion to the rest of the world. That isn’t what they focus on: with the sole exception of Ron Paul they’re social conservatives in three-cornered hats.

  10. I understand your point, and I don’t see how anybody could argue that the TP is largely about social conservatism (in addition to fiscal). I think overall they want to fund the military, but more than a few are supporting Ron Paul, who wants to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan and decrease military spending, so there is not unanimity there, as there isn’t among TP supporters in other issues.

    I agree that candidates who deny science can pose a threat to scientific advancement. I would certainly have concerns about Perry in that regard, and probably Bachman as well. Stem cell research has been a hot button topic in recent years, and I would be concerned about their stances on it. This illustrates one of my main points; I don’t want the TP to gain too much ground, and I think the media is preventing that. But I don’t want to see them marginalized, either, because I hope that they can help pressure representatives to control the deficit more than they would without TP influence. It’s a balancing game, and to some extent it’s tempting to just wish they’d all go away.

    I know it seems I take the TP agenda at face value, but I don’t mean to suggest that. Being suspicious and watchful is always indicated. However, there are those on the far right that make the claim that Obama is out to create a strict, socialist state, and make the average person (middle and lower socioeconomic classes) completely dependent on the government. So it’s wise to be wary, but one must also be careful not to jump to conspiratorial conclusions.

  11. Being anti-science isn’t just a threat to “scientific advancement”, it’s a threat to coastal cities, ocean fisheries, Midwestern agriculture, public health, and the scientifically literate population that a modern economy needs to survive.

    When you say “those on the far right that make the claim that Obama is out to create a strict, socialist state, and make the average person (middle and lower socioeconomic classes) completely dependent on the government” you are describing the most popular TP candidates. They don’t even seem to know what a socialist IS let alone how to run a modern economy. For instance, if you want to control the deficit, raise some damn revenue. Or we can kill our economy by a death of a thousand cuts: education, infrastructure, research, etc.

    Unless you have anything but warmed-over TP talking points to offer, I’ll go find another discussion.

  12. The fact that you think I’m spouting TP talking points tells me we both need to go find another discussion, but I appreciate the discussion we’ve had.

  13. You have got to reaalize that these people are false christains who follow fase doctrines. The use religion for their own gain. Almost all of them are and were followers of Oral Roberts, Jim Bakker,, Jerry Falwell, etc,etc.All of these people have proven themselves criminals and religous radicals who give an apperence of reglion according to what best benefits them. Oral Roberts is Sahah Palins God father and Bachman was a folower of Oral Roberts. This man was absolutely evil along with all the rest of them.This is all predicted and recorded in the bible. These tea parters and radical republicans are not Godly, they are demons doing Satans , this is their religion, and sadly people are falling for their BS. Satan is the master of deception and there are alot of stupid uninformed people out there who will listen t anything. Look how many people gave their hard earned money to Jim Bakker.These tea parters and republicans are just like them.This tea party republicans have got to go or we have given our country over to evil.

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