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? Just take a little glance before you get sucked into the media black hole of Chris Christie’s press conference and the Apple iPhone 5 announcement (so I guess neither Christie nor the iPhone will be running for president…unless they both are?).
If you didn’t see our CEO Dr. Robert P. Jones’ latest piece for the CNN Belief Blog, check it out here. In it, he looks twelve years into the future, at a time when Jon Huntsman could be a real contender for the Republican nomination. We’ll have to wait until 2024 to see if Dr. Jones is truly clairvoyant.
A poll from 60 Minutes and Vanity Fair shows that 49% of Democrats think that intelligence is the most important characteristic for a president to have, compared to 31% of Republicans. By contrast, 43% of Republicans chose “character” as the most important trait (27% of Democrats agreed). Although Rick Perry’s campaign looks like it’s suffering some setbacks, perhaps this explains why, as Dr. Jones pointed out in his last column for “Figuring Faith,” Perry chose to embrace anti-intellectual rhetoric.
At the Washington Post On Faith, Michael Gerson argues that secular liberals will continue to object to Romney’s Mormonism after conservatives have made peace with it. However, according to a recent PRRI survey, only 4-in-10 Americans know that Romney is Mormon.
The Supreme Court will allow a Muslim woman to sue prison officials in Southern California for forcing her to remove her hijab. Americans are divided over how comfortable they are with Muslim women wearing the burqa, a full-body robe with a face veil.
In other news, Maurice Sendak’s new book sounds terrifying, and Sendak himself is no less intimidating, at least in this interview from the Guardian. His favorite among his own canon, Outside Over There, is one of the few books I remember vividly from my childhood – mostly because it made me want to hide under my covers and not come out.
For updates and coverage throughout the day, follow us on Facebook or Twitter. Also a reminder that our CEO, online communications associate and press secretary are all on Twitter: they’re @robertpjones, @PRRIAmelia and @PRRIShannon, respectively.