This compatibility of social and economic concerns has become apparent, of course, in the Tea Party movement. While Tea Partiers were initially cast as die-hard fiscal conservatives, the movement’s pious rhetoric—along with subsequent polling data—indicated that religious concerns were central to its popularity. Ultimately, the Tea Party movement revealed the extent to which religious and economic beliefs meld in the minds of many frustrated Americans.
To put this more concretely, approximately 31 percent of Americans, many of whom are white evangelical men, believe that God is steering the United States economy, thus fusing their religious and economic interests. These individuals believe in what I call an “Authoritative God.” An Authoritative God is thought to be actively engaged in daily activities and historical outcomes. For those with an Authoritative God, value concerns are synonymous with economic concerns because God has a guiding hand in both. Around two-thirds of believers in an Authoritative God conjoin their theology with free-market economics, creating a new religious-economic idealism. Nearly one-fifth of American voters hold this viewpoint, signaling that it can be a major political force.