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? It seems a bit cruel to deny Indiana Jones tenure. Okay – so he doesn’t spend much time in the classroom, he steals the occasional treasured artifact, and he certainly doesn’t publish very much. Then again, why shouldn’t an archaeologist’s tool kit consist solely of a bullwhip and a revolver?
Happy Purim! The Jewish holiday, which commemorates the deliverance of ancient Persia’s Jewish people from a devious plot by a man named Haman, begins tonight at sundown. If you’re really into Purim, you’ll be munching some hamantaschen to celebrate. They’re exceedingly difficult to make (mine turned into little hamantaschen-pancakes in the oven), but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try!
Soccer’s international governing body, FIFA, announced that it will allow Muslim female soccer players to test out specially designed head coverings. FIFA has prohibited headscarves since 2007, citing safety concerns. This has, unsurprisingly, generated a great deal of controversy among Muslim soccer fans.
The New York Times has a fascinating article about Rick Santorum’s evolution from “nominal Catholic” to “clarion of faith.” It’s interesting, of course, to note that Santorum’s politics seem to appeal more to white evangelical Protestants than his fellow Catholics.
A new Fox News poll shows GOP candidates losing ground to Obama among Latino voters. Mitt Romney, in particular, has been outspoken in his opposition to policies like the DREAM Act, which could be swaying many of these voters.
The Associated Press surveyed a group of leading economists, who are optimistic about U.S. jobs and the economy overall. This is likely to be exciting news to the 83% of Americans who say that jobs and unemployment are a critical issue facing the country.
A sidebar: I’ll be on vacation, tooling around this lovely land with some friends, starting on Thursday. That means you’ll get the Buzz tomorrow morning, but since I’ll have absolutely no internet access while I’m away, the Buzz will be on hiatus until Monday, March 19. I’ll miss you – but I’ll be back soon!
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