Our 2013 American Values Survey: In Search of Libertarians in America finds that libertarians stand out among conservative groups for their unique religious make-up and comparatively low levels of religious commitment. A majority of libertarians identify as white mainline Protestant (27 percent), or religiously unaffiliated (27 percent), while roughly 1-in-4 (23 percent) identify as white evangelical Protestant, 11 percent identify as Catholic and only six percent say they belong to a non-Christian religion.
By contrast, more than one-third (35 percent) of Americans who identify with the Tea Party movement are white evangelical Protestants, while roughly equal numbers identify as Catholic (22 percent) or white mainline Protestant (19 percent), and fewer than 1-in-10 (9 percent) are religiously unaffiliated.
Libertarians and Tea Party members also differ in the importance they place on the role of religion. Relatively few (15 percent) libertarians say religion is the most important thing in their lives, and another 38 percent say religion is one among many important things in their lives. More than 4-in-10 libertarians say either that religion is not as important as other things in their lives (19 percent) or that religion is not important in their lives (25 percent). Conversely, nearly 3-in-10 (28 percent) Tea Party members say that religion is the most important thing in their lives, and nearly half (49 percent) say religion is one among many important things in their lives. Only 11 percent of Tea Party members say religion is not important in their lives.
Not surprisingly, libertarians report much lower levels of religious attendance than members of the Tea Party. A majority (55 percent) of libertarians report that they seldom or never attend religious services, while roughly 1-in-5 say they attend services either monthly or a few times a year (22 percent), or report attending services at least once a week (22 percent). Among Tea Party members, close to half (45%) say they attend services at least once a week and less than one-third (31%) report they attend seldom or never.
To find out more about how the religious compositions of these two groups affects conservative politics on a range of issues, be sure to check out our 2013 American Values Survey: In Search of Libertarians in America.