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? Some protesters appeared sporting waxed mustaches, a riding crop, top hats, and even (I think?) a banjo, in an attempt to stop Abercrombie & Fitch from opening up a store on London’s posh Saville Row.
House Speaker John Boehner informed Sen. Marco Rubio that his modified version of the DREAM Act – which would provide legal residency but not a path to citizenship for some illegal aliens who serve in the military – would be DOA in the House. The modified DREAM Act is part of a campaign to win back Latino support after Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, declared that he would veto the DREAM Act if it came across his desk. Over 8-in-10 (81%) Hispanic Americans favor a policy that would provide illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children with a path to citizenship if they join the military or attend college.
A striking new graphic from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life illustrates changing attitudes on gay marriage over the past decade.
At this year’s United Methodist Church’s General Conference, gay and lesbian activists will press for the ordination of gay clergy. They also argue that pastors who live in states where same-sex marriage is legal should be able to perform marriage ceremonies for gay couples. A solid majority (57%) of white mainline Protestants favor the ordination of gay clergy with no special requirements, and nearly three-quarters (73%) say that if their church began to perform blessings of gay and lesbian couples, they would continue to attend.
Yesterday, a federal judge ended a decades-long dispute over a large cross that a WWI veterans’ group placed in the Mojave Desert in 1934. The legality of the cross was disputed by the ACLU, which filed a lawsuit on behalf of a retired park employee in 2001, claiming that the cross was unconstitutionally placed on government land. The case wove through the court system for over a decade, even appearing before the Supreme Court, until a compromise was finally reached: the land on which the cross stands will be exchanged for five acres of property elsewhere. The (extremely complex) details of the case are here, summarized by the Washington Post.
A warning about springtime horserace polls: according to Micah Cohen, “Since 1972, winning in April has been no guarantee of winning in November.”