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? Please note: if you are flying to London for the Olympics, don’t bother packing your sun hat, vuvuzela, crossbow, or Che Guevara t-shirt. But you should probably bring a poncho, because big umbrellas are also banned from the Games (and I’ve heard that it rains sometimes in London).
Two scholars from different religious backgrounds – Robert P. George, a Catholic, and Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, a Muslim – united in a letter urging hotel executives to remove pornography from their companies’ in-room movie services. George and Yusef argue that pornography undermines “human dignity and the common good.” Pornography is, needless to say, a hotly contested issue. The 2012 Millennial Values Survey found that a slim majority (51%) of younger Millennials (age 18-24) believe that viewing pornography is morally wrong, while 41% believe that it is morally acceptable. There are significant differences between the views of young men and women. Notably, young men and women differ significantly on this question.
Good news for Mitt Romney in a new Gallup poll: his wealth would make only 1-in-5 voters less likely to vote for him.
Check out these gorgeous infographics from Demos, which feature some not-so-gorgeous data on American poverty.
Melinda Gates has been fending off accusations that she is betraying her Catholic faith by co-hosting the London Summit on Family Planning, where organizers hope to raise $4 billion to expand access to contraception in regions like Africa. However, as Time’s Tim Padgett points out, U.S. Catholics’ perspectives on contraception are a lot more in line with Gates‘ views than the Vatican’s.
Church women are launching a crusade against an amendment to Minnesota’s constitution that would ban gay marriage. Recent surveys have found that there are religious groups on either side of the same-sex marriage debate.
Americans rank last in National Geographic’s new environmental sustainability index (the “Greendex”), and they don’t feel particularly guilty about it. Last fall, Americans were divided on whether, given the current economic climate, the country could deal with an issue like climate change.