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.
In May, Barack Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage. Will this controversial move erode Obama’s popularity within the black community? This question has emerged several times since Obama’s endorsement, and is likely to surface again before the election. In this week’s post for “Figuring Faith,” Dr. Robert P. Jones gives three reasons why Obama’s position on same-sex marriage will not hurt him among black Americans, who remain one of the President’s most loyal constituencies:
Three findings signal that efforts leverage this issue to galvanize the black community against Obama are unlikely to be unsuccessful: continued overwhelming support for Obama among black voters, the fact that same-sex marriage is a very low-priority issue for black Americans, and—the most direct evidence at all—most black Americans who are aware of Obama’s support for same-sex marriage also approve of his position.