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? According to one BBC radio producer, the District of Columbia is on its way to supplanting Chicago as America’s “second city.” Although I am not an expert on DC’s shift from “commercial backwater” to hip government town (is that an oxymoron?), in terms of the cities’ imaginary monsters, DC certainly has Chicago beat. Who would want to tangle with the Goatman?
Passover, the Jewish holiday that commemorates the story of the Exodus, in which the Israelites were emancipated from slavery in ancient Egypt, begins tomorrow night at sundown. In this week’s column for “Figuring Faith,” Dr. Robert P. Jones explores how, for many American Jews, the values of Passover resonate throughout the year.
While you’re at it, check out this article, which grapples with what it would mean to have a Mormon in the White House. Dr. Jones provides some insightful commentary.
NPR asks whether young voters will show up to vote in 2012, despite historic turnout in 2008. Several analysts say that young people are not as engaged as they were four years ago. On the other hand, the general election campaign has yet to start in earnest, so it’s hard to know how enthusiastic young people will be.
The results from the Wisconsin, Maryland and D.C. primaries elicited several juicy zingers from Washington insiders – one of the more memorable was directed at Rick Santorum. James Carville, as always, is a poet.
President Obama delivered a budget speech on Tuesday, where he emphasized the need to raise taxes on the wealthy. This could be a fruitful angle to pursue this election season: 7-in-10 Americans support increasing the tax rate on Americans earning more than $1 million per year.
A new(ish) website, Frequencies, has taken on a daunting task: asking scholars, artists and writers to describe what “spirituality” means to them (some are straightforward, others less so). Laura R. Olson has an interesting take on the project up at the Immanent Frame; she admires Frequencies, while others have taken issue with it.
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