Getting Religion at the Tea Party Convention

February 5th, 2010 at 7:27 pm | 52 Comments |

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Click here for all of Jonathan Kay’s posts from the Tea Party convention in Nashville.

I’ve spent the day listening to speeches here at the Tea Party National Convention, and talking to some of the other delegates. For the most part, no big surprises: The folks are sociable, middle-aged, white (I think I counted two black adults in the whole room — though, interestingly, both of them ended up on the podium, giving speeches) and mad as hell that Barack Obama is conspiring with the United Nations to turn America into a socialist province of a One World State.

I think the one thing that really did surprise me was the high level of explicitly Christian social conservatism on display here. One of the “breakout sessions” featured a speech from Pastor Rick Scarborough — who is most famous for trying to get America’s preachers more politicized. (“I’m not a Republican. I’m not a Democrat. I’m a Christocrat.”) After his speech, a middle-aged female delegate with a twang stood up and said, during the Q&A, “All the media types are asking us why we’re here. Here’s what I say. We’re all here for a little R&R — revival and revolt. If you’re not a Christian, and a person of faith, you just can’t understand what we’re doing!!” She got a standing ovation.

At the time, I thought this might be just because this particular session was self-selected by Christian attendees. But an hour later, the lunch speaker was Roy Moore: the “10 Commandments Judge” who was fired from his position as Alabama Chief Justice when he refused to remove a 5,000-pound 10-commandments sculpture from his court building. (He’s now running for Alabama Governor — his volunteers are a big presence here.) Anyway, he gave a fire-and-brimstone speech that peeled the paint off the walls. He sounded, at times, entirely indistinguishable from an Evangelist at Sunday service, listing off the many reasons America is going to hell (militant gay activists, naturally, figured prominently). And the guy brought the house down.

During his whole speech, I kept thinking to myself: And to think that this guy used to be mandated by the state of Alabama to pass judgment on non-Christians, gays, and all the other heathen. Tea Party types tend to be strongly pro-Israel. But that aside, it’s not a particularly familiar place for a nice Jewish boy from Canada.

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