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? In case you weren’t quite up to speed on what kids are doing these days, the hippest pastor in Houston asked his flock to get images of the Stations of the Cross tattooed on their bodies for Lent.
Maine Senator Olympia Snowe’s decision not to run for re-election has raised questions about Congress’ ability to do anything remotely bipartisan. But this political acrimony seems may be primarily confined to male senators – at least, according to the Daily Beast’s Margaret Carlson, who writes about how women in the Senate maintain cordial relationships across the aisle.
Former Republican strategist Ken Mehlman, who managed George W. Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign and came out as gay in 2010, said that he wishes he had spoken out about the issue of same-sex marriage sooner – and added that the issue is a “net positive for winning elections, as well as the right thing to do.” Given the Millennial generation’s overwhelming support for same-sex marriage, the politics of this issue seem likely to evolve.
A new campaign from the Islamic Circle of North America is attempting to educate Americans about the “noble” meaning of Shari’a or Islamic law through a new public education campaign. For more on the challenges that anti-Shari’a laws may face in state legislatures, check out Dr. Robert P. Jones’ latest piece for “Figuring Faith.”
Roman Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan (until recently, the Archbishop of New York) urged Catholics to become more politically active on behalf of their faith. Given how divided Catholics are on many of these issues, it’s unclear just what effect this would have.
A brief lesson on why the wording in poll questions matters.
Mitt Romney won the Washington State caucuses (no thanks to the Seattle Times, which gave him the most lackluster non-endorsement possible). And now on to Super Tuesday! Rick Santorum is campaigning hard for the support of conservatives in southern states like Tennessee. For those of you still wishing to keep track of the also-rans, check out Smart Politics. Rick Perry has gotten more than 50,000 votes since dropping out of the race.
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