Mark A. Smith is professor of Political Science and an adjunct professor of Comparative Religion and Communication at the University of Washington. His research focuses on economic and religious groups, ideas, and influences in American politics. In his new book, Secular Faith: How Culture Has Trumped Religion in American Politics, Dr. Smith argues that religion is not nearly the unchanging conservative influence in American politics that we have come to think it is and is best understood as responding to changing political and cultural values rather than shaping them.
Welcome to the Morning Buzz, PRRI’s morning dose of religion-related news with a shot of data – because what doesn’t liven up a morning round-up like some public opinion numbers? And, because I’m feeling a little cranky this morning, some words of advice to the gentleman I saw this morning riding a Bikeshare bike, wearing no helmet and listening to his iPod: do not do that.
Take a peek at PRRI’s latest graphic over at Religion Dispatches – when is a Christian not really a Christian?
And while you’re clicking around Religion Dispatches, Joanna Brooks has an interesting new piece on Mitt Romney’s supposed awkwardness with ordinary voters and his Mormonism. Unfortunately, this may not mean much to the 6-in-10 Americans who don’t know that Romney is a Mormon.
A heckler at an Obama fundraiser in California was escorted out, after causing a disturbance and calling Obama the Antichrist. While we don’t have data on how many Americans agree with him, we do know that one-fifth of Americans think that Obama is a Muslim, so there’s that.
Even though Pope Benedict XVI spoke out against same-sex marriage during his recent trip to Germany, he also seemed to embrace the country’s growing religious diversity. For more on the challenges of religious pluralism in the United States, take a look at PRRI’s recent report.
And for all you religion nerds out there, here’s an old video of religion scholar Elaine Pagels on the Colbert Report. It’s pretty hilarious.
For updates and coverage throughout the day, follow us on Facebook or Twitter. Also a reminder that our online communications associate and press secretary are now both on Twitter: they’re @PRRIAmelia and @PRRIShannon, respectively.