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.
Last Friday, I was on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, discussing the high-profile meeting of white evangelical leaders, who gathered last weekend in Texas to unite behind an emergency “consensus” candidate. The question is whether their decision (they ultimately endorsed Rick Santorum) will carry enough weight among voters to unseat Mitt Romney, the frontrunner. Watch below: