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’s easy to imagine members of Congress giving speeches like this on a daily basis. But do they really sound more like this? Well, okay, it’s not that dramatic, but still – the Sunlight Foundation reports that since 2005, the average grade level at which members of Congress speak has fallen by almost a full grade.
Today in lawsuits: Over 40 Catholic institutions – including the Washington, D.C. Archdiochese and the University of Notre Dame - are suing the Obama administration over the contraception mandate. Meanwhile, William P. Blatty, the author of The Exorcist, is also preparing a canon lawsuit against Georgetown University for failing to live up to its Catholic identity.
What will it take to reach Catholics this election season? Jim Arkedis of the Progressive Policy Institute suggests that Democrats should emphasize “social justice, equality and inclusion” to capture this crucial swing vote. Economic policies that address inequality have been fairly popular with the general public. For example, majorities of every major religious group support increasing the tax rate on Americans making more than $1 million per year.
At Patheos, sociologist Mark Regnerus explores a recent change in the marriage-to-divorce ratio nationally. The marriage rate has dropped 17 percent in 10 years, while the divorce rate has dropped 10 percent. Does this mean that Americans are being more careful about who they marry?
Are influential Americans being persuaded to support same-sex marriage at the dinner table?
Juan Williams argues that turnout among minority voters could decide the 2012 election.