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?
There is no place for dignity, guilt, or regrets at the Iowa State Fair, according to one NY Times writer. In this way, it is much like American politics.
Commentators are falling over each other to predict how Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan will impact every conceivable kind of voter, including (but not limited to) evangelicals, minorities, Tea Partiers, women, Catholics, Floridians, and Jews.
Meanwhile, Americans overall are divided in their opinion of Romney’s selection of Ryan. According to a new USA Today/Gallup poll, over 4-in-10 (42%) say that Ryan is only a “fair” or “poor” choice for VP, while 39% think he is an “excellent” or “pretty good” choice. Americans appear to be less excited about Ryan’s selection than they were about Sarah Palin back in 2008, or Dick Cheney in 2000.
A group of atheists decided to transcend party lines by announcing dual billboard campaigns deriding the religious faith of both Romney and Obama. The ads were intended to run in the cities where the Democratic and Republican conventions were being held, but no one in Tampa, the soon-to-be home of the Republican convention, would sell them billboard space. Democrats flocking to Charlotte, NC, however, will be exposed to signs that declare that God is “sadistic” and Jesus “useless” as a savior.
Remember David Barton, the evangelist who made his career by declaring that America is a Christian nation? His new book, The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson, an attempt to debunk the widely supported notion that Jefferson was a secular politician, was yanked by its publisher, Thomas Nelson, because the book contained “historical details that were not adequately supported.” That’s quite a euphemism.
A southern California Islamic organization asked the Department of Justice to investigate an incident as a possible hate crime: last week, three pig legs were allegedly thrown onto the proposed side of a mosque near Los Angeles. For more on Americans’ perspectives on Muslim Americans, check out our blog.