THIS WEEK IN GOD…. First up from the God Machine this week is the release of fascinating survey data from the Public Religion Research Institute, highlighting the overlap between self-proclaimed Tea Party activists and the traditional religious right movement. For all the talk that the Tea Party crowd tends to be secular, libertarian-minded folks, primarily concerned about fiscal issues, the results suggest otherwise.

* Nearly half (47%) of self-identified Tea Party supporters are also Christian conservatives, and 36% are white evangelicals. An even greater share of Tea Party supporters identify as Republican partisans — 76% identify with or lean toward the Republican party. (p.4, 9) […]

* Regardless of religious affiliation, Tea Party supporters are socially conservative rather than libertarian: 63% say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, and only 18% say gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to marry. (p. 4)

PRRI CEO Dr. Robert Jones added that Tea Party activists “don’t differ much from the Republican Party’s religious profile.” An NPR report added, after scrutinizing the results, this is “fundamentally a Republican movement.”

The results also showed Tea Party crowd with a membership that is “overwhelmingly white,” and “feel they are losing ground to African-Americans and other minority groups.”

It’s almost as if the Tea Party really isn’t a distinct “movement,” but rather just the reactionary GOP base by a different name.

Also from the God Machine this week:

* Dahlia Lithwick has a helpful report on the Supreme Court hearing oral arguments in Snyder v. Phelps, the case dealing with restrictions on a radical hate church that protests at the funerals of fallen Americans soldiers.

* Right-wing opponents of a community center and mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, tried this week to convince a local judge that Islam isn’t a religion. Seriously.

* Leaders of a prominent religious right group argued on a radio show this week in support of government “regulation” of homosexuality. They weren’t kidding.

* And as part of his new book, the Washington Post‘s Dana Milbank notes that deranged media personality Glenn Beck appears to be motivated, at least in part, by “the need to fulfill” Beck’s interpretation of “Mormon prophecy.” (thanks to reader D.J. for the tip)

Update: The link to the Milbank piece has been corrected. Apologies.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.