Despite the tea party’s well-known fiscal focus, the anti-tax, budget-slashing movement’s most underappreciated energy source may be evangelical Christians.

I suspected as much when I attended a couple of early tea party rallies. News coverage focused on the signs, speeches and slogans that promoted free markets, fiscal responsibility and constitutionally limited government. But my conversations with participants revealed another widely shared agenda: stop abortion rights, same-sex marriage and the other social evils in the eyes of the religious right.

David Brody, Christian Broadcasting Network’s Washington-based chief political correspondent, was making similar discoveries. If it often looks as though tea partyers are driven by something resembling religious zeal, you’ll understand why after reading his new book “The Teavangelicals: The Inside Story of How the Evangelicals and the Tea Party are Taking Back America.”

Along with numerous profiles and interviews, Brody recounts polls, like a 2010 American Values survey, that indicate nearly half of self-identified tea party members say they are part of the “religious right or conservative Christian movement.”

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