The Role of Religion (or Not) in the Tea Party Movement: Current Debates & The Anti-Federalists*

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The Tea Party is known most for its positions related to economic and fiscal issues, and its emphasis on limited government and adherence to the Constitution.  However, there is an unfolding debate within the movement about the role of social and religious issues.  This paper considers why these issues have not been the focal point of the Tea Party and whether this phenomenon is likely to remain going forward. Have social and religious issues been relegated merely for tactical reasons or is the movement indeed more libertarian than it is conservative?  My analysis includes: 1) major Tea Party organizations, 2) key Tea Party documents, 3) prominent movement figures and 4) recent poll findings.  The debates of the current day are then be compared with those that took place between the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists, touching on important questions related to the role of government and religion in America. 

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