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? An almost intact Roman ship has been found off the coast of Varazze, Italy, complete with a full cargo of ancient foodstuffs. First-century pickled fish picnic, anyone?
The Republican National Convention will feature three Latino speakers: New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, Tea Party darling and Senate candidate Ted Cruz, and Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuño. This is a change of pace from previous conventions, which were criticized for a lack of diversity.
The “right to pray” amendment to the Missouri constitution passed by a wide margin earlier this week. The amendment, among other provisions, allows for schoolchildren’s “right to pray and acknowledge God voluntarily in their schools.” The measure was so popular that embattled Democratic Senate candidate Claire McCaskill said that she had voted for it. The bill’s opponents, however, say that it will face court challenges. Last March, 23% of respondents who said that religious liberty was under threat identified the cause as the removal of religion from the public square.
In a new survey, nearly 4-in-10 (37%) social psychologists report that given two equally qualified candidates for a job, they would support the hiring of a liberal candidate over a conservative candidate. Now, many academics are wondering if this is true of their field as well.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who seems increasingly fed up with American politics, says that Obama should just raise taxes on everyone.
In the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a scholar of theological studies and a nonprofit director take the Catholic hierarchy to task for criticizing the American nuns. The bishops, they argue, should be focusing on poverty and income inequality, rather than culture war issues like same-sex marriage and contraception. The the issue of same-sex marriage and abortion rank relatively low among the priorities of most Catholics.
In weird campaign news, the third-to-last paragraph of a New York Times article on the Senate race in Missouri reveals this gem: “Kerry Bentivolio, a libertarian-leaning reindeer farmer and a holiday Santa, defeated Nancy Cassis, a former state senator who formed a last-minute write-in campaign.” Thanks to Arnie for unearthing this!
And finally, the viable VP candidate we’ve been waiting for.