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? If you’re dying to know which confection will become the latest overpriced sensation, insiders say that marshmallows (not macarons!) are the new cupcakes. I was initially skeptical, but chocolate rosemary marshmallows do sound rather delicious. If you live in New York, try one and let me know if it’s worth $1 of your hard-earned cash.
Mitt Romney won the Iowa caucus by a hair, but he’s far from locking up the GOP nomination. South Carolina Republicans are claiming that their state’s primary, which follows New Hampshire’s, will decide who goes on to challenge Obama in the general election. Santorum’s strong performance among social conservatives in Iowa suggest that South Carolina could be fertile ground to make an effective case against Romney for his record on social issues like abortion. Conservative elites – including James Dobson – are allegedly meeting to find a “consensus” candidate to back (i.e., not Romney).
Michele Bachmann bowed out of the GOP race, but not without a nod to her Christian roots.
Washington State could be the next state to legalize same-sex marriage. Nationally, religious groups fall on either side of the same-sex marriage debate; for more information, see our recent report.
This Washington Post graphic will scare college students who are contemplating degrees in arts and architecture, especially if they’ll be racking up significant college debt. Approximately two-thirds (66%) of the general population say the government should do to help students pay for college and pay off student loan debt.
And in New Hampshire, three freshmen congressmen introduced a bill that would require all legislation in the Granite State to be based, not in the U.S. Constitution, but in the Magna Carta. This document, in case you need a refresher on your British history, was signed by King John in 1215 at the behest of a group of feudal barons. It’s unclear how passages like “We shall straightway return the son of Llewelin and all the Welsh hostages” or “All fish weirs on the Thames and the Medway and throughout England are to be entirely dismantled” might prove relevant for the New Hampshire legislature, but if the state is currently holding Welsh hostages, it would probably be a good idea to return them.
For updates and coverage throughout the day, follow us on Facebook or Twitter. Also a reminder that our CEO and our online communications associate are on Twitter: they’re @robertpjones and @PRRIAmelia.