Scholars have noted the variety of ideological and religious perspectives present in the Tea Party movement. This study addresses why both religious and nonreligious individuals may be involved in the Tea Party despite its cultural connection to ‘traditional’ conservative Christianity. The article explores Tea Party participation and commitment, arguing that group membership is sustained by the party’s ability to create interaction rituals reflective of Christian culture as an acknowledgement of American Christian values. The Tea Party frames its ideology as sacred, thereby establishing group commitment and cohesion. As a result, it is capable of attracting constituents from inside and outside of the Religious Right. By validating the experiences of others and creating a system of interdependency, the Tea Party has the potential to create group solidarity leading to collective action and exceptional political influence.
STACY M. K. GEORGE is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington. She has published research on social movements, the sociology of religion, and leisure studies. She continues to explore dynamics of faith and politics in a variety of contexts. Her most recent research focuses on gender and relationship dynamics in religious settings. Her forthcoming book, “‘Ring by Spring’: Navigating Relationships at Christian Colleges,” examines the cultural forces on Christian college campuses that pressure students to become engaged before graduation. E-mail: email@example.com