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? This, ladies and gentlemen, is the world’s oldest murder mystery, discovered by Alpine hikers in 1991.
Senate Democrats in Illinois proposed legislation that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $10/hr. Illinois’ minimum wage is currently $8.25/hr, which is higher than the federal minimum wage ($7.25/hr). Two-thirds (67%) of Americans favor increasing the minimum wage to $10.00/hr, including a majority (52%) of Republicans.
A piece of Missouri legislation nicknamed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill because it would bar schools from using instructional materials or sponsoring extracurricular activities that discuss sexual orientation is making waves in the media and in the state legislature. A Republican state lawmaker actually came out as gay to his colleagues in protest against the bill.
The Rev. Billy Graham, a famous evangelist, endorsed the ballot initiative to constitutionally ban gay marriage in his home state of North Carolina. It’s unclear what influence his endorsement will have in next week’s vote: a majority (53%) of Americans disagree that religious groups should hold their ground and oppose efforts to make homosexuality acceptable.
It looks like Virginia, once a solidly Republican state, will be up for grabs this election cycle.
Could polling on Catholics be the best bellwether for which candidate will triumph in the November election?
And on the Colbert Report, Father Thomas Reese (a member of the “Georgetown Jesuit mafia,” according to Colbert) expounds upon the discrepancies between Catholic doctrine and Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan.