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? One can only imagine that 1950′s-era AP editor Dorothy Roe would be deeply, deeply disappointed in the women of today, given her predictions about the women of the mythical year 2000. After all, few of us are six feet tall, and even fewer have “shoulders like a wrestler and muscles like a truck driver.”
Tonight, President Barack Obama will address Congress with the annual State of the Union speech. In a video message to campaign supporters released this weekend, he said that he will discuss the urgent need to “[build] an economy that works for everyone, not just a wealthy few.” This is likely to be a message that resonates with many Americans: for more on Americans’ perspectives on income inequality and economic fairness, check out this survey.
Gallup had two interesting pieces of information yesterday: first of all, Mitt Romney’s national lead over Newt Gingrich appears to be collapsing, and Americans are deeply unhappy with the state of the economy – more so than with the country’s moral and ethical climate. Both of these findings have implications for the upcoming primary in Florida: although Gingrich is clearly closing the gap, fueled in part by the support of white evangelical Protestants, he may have to broaden his message in Florida, a state where social values issues are likely to matter less than in South Carolina.
Romney will release his 2010 tax returns today. If they show, as expected, that he’s paying significantly less in taxes than working and middle class Americans, expect a fresh round of debates about the fairness of the current tax system. After all, nearly 7-in-10 (69%) of Americans favor increasing taxes on Americans making at least $1 million dollars per year as part of an effort to reduce the deficit.
Even as the election trundles on to Florida, where evangelical voters wield much less electoral power, Mitt Romney is still dealing with requests to discuss his Mormon faith “openly” – this time from Mike Huckabee. Perhaps Romney’s staffers should send Huckabee this video?
In a piece for the CNN Belief blog, R. Albert Mohler Jr., the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, looks to Millennials as the reason why the abortion issue “won’t go away.” He raises an interesting point (one which Bob Smietana of the Tennessean also explored in a piece this weekend): Millennials are less supportive of legal abortion than their demographic profile suggests. But it’s important to remember that Millennials are significantly more likely than the general public to say that at least some health care professionals in their community should provide legal abortions (68% vs. 58% respectively).
If you’re interested in the abortion debate (or, specifically, escaping the debate and entering a real conversation about it) and live in Atlanta, you should certainly check out this upcoming event at Mercer University featuring a dialogue between Rachel Laser and Dr. David Gushee, speaking from separate sides of the abortion divide. Info about the event is here.
The impeccably-spoken British philosopher and public intellectual, Alain de Botton, calls for a new approach to atheism in a recent TED talk, “Atheism 2.0.” I haven’t read his book, Religion for Atheists, but the talk is certainly worth watching.
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