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?
In case you missed the Venus transit, which happens once every 105 years, here is an amazing video released by the Solar Dynamics Observatory.
Scott Walker’s victory last night in Wisconsin may be a wake-up call for Democrats in the post-Citizens United political landscape. Although Tom Barett received an enormous amount of grassroots support, Scott Walker outspent him 8-to-1, thanks in large part to out-of-state contributions by corporate and wealthy donors. In January, a CBS News/New York Times poll found that 67% of Americans believe that unlimited spending on advertisements by groups not affiliated with a candidate during a political campaign should be limited by law.
With a twist on the well-worn “What’s the Matter with Kansas” debate, Jonathan Haidit, a professor of psychology at NYU’s Stern School of Business, argues that working class voters aren’t voting against their self-interest; rather, they’re voting FOR their moral interests. But a recent op-ed by PRRI CEO Robert P. Jones shows that the picture is more complex, with white working class voters strongly backing a moral vision of a more egalitarian society, as PRRI CEO Robert P. Jones details here.
According to the New York Times, it appears that the heated political and moral debate over the morality of the morning-after pill may be based on a faulty understanding of how the drug actually works. Generally, an overwhelming majority of Americans and Catholics (89% and 82% respectively), believe it is morally acceptable to use birth control.
How exactly does AP call elections before all the votes are counted?
In the first quarter, gay fundraisers raised more than $8 millions for the Obama campaign. And this number is suspected to rise due to President Obama’s announcement in support for same-sex marriage. However, we won’t know how much for sure until-mid June. In March, we found that 52% of Americans favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally.