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?
It turns out that Rob Portman, who you may know as one of the “boring white guys” on Romney’s shortlist for VP, owns a haunted hotel. Portman, also dislocated his shoulder while kayaking in Chile and – Lethal Weapon 2-style – slammed his shoulder on a rock to put it back in place. Maybe not so boring?
NPR has two helpful graphics which illustrate changes in financial aid for higher education over the past decade. Grants — scholarships and other money that doesn’t have to be paid back — have risen by more than 50 percent, to nearly $7,000 per student per year. Federal grants, in particular, have grown over the past five years. Meanwhile, two-thirds of the general population say the government should do more to help students pay for college.
One influential evangelist has built his career on the claim that the United States is – and has always been – a Christian nation. Four-in-ten (42%) Americans believe that America always has been and is currently a Christian nation, while 37% say that America was a Christian nation in the past, but is not now. Only 17% say that America has never been a Christian nation.
At the Monkey Cage, scholar David Karol takes the media to task for perpetuating the myth that Americans’ perspectives on abortion and same-sex marriage go hand in hand. In fact, as we discovered last summer, while these issues were once at the heart of the “values” agenda, they’re no longer necessarily linked in the minds of most Americans.
A new Republican ad takes on the Obama administration’s “Julia,” telling the virtual woman who avails herself of government services throughout the course of her life to take a look at her rising grocery bill. For more perspectives on “the Life of Julia,” especially those of Tea Party women, take a look at Affiliated Scholar Melissa Deckman’s latest post for our blog.
Interestingly, the Census discovered that in some counties in Utah, there are more registered voters than residents.