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’s nothing like riding on a donkey with your iPad to make you feel like you’re in ancient Israel. (Thanks to Arnie for sending this in!)
Roman Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan will offer the closing blessing at the Republican National Convention (assuming it’s not derailed by Hurricane Isaac), suggesting that the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ denunciation of VP candidate Paul Ryan’s proposed budget has been trumped by the ongoing struggle over religious liberty.
The GOP platform, which has been subject to a thorough picking-over this week, includes support for a policy of “self-deportation,” endorsing “humane procedures to encourage illegal aliens to return home voluntarily.” When Americans are asked to choose between a comprehensive approach to immigration reform that couples enforcement with a path to citizenship on the one hand, and an enforcement and deportation only approach on the other, Americans prefer the comprehensive approach by a large margin.
Two conservative groups (the Liberty Institute and the Family Research Council) released a study of “religious hostility” in America, which details over 600 incidents of alleged attacks on religious freedom. Most (56%) Americans do not believe that the right of religious liberty is being threatened in America today.
Like Millennials overall, younger Latinos are increasingly identifying as religiously unaffiliated.
After pretty much every major figure in the GOP asked Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin to step down, powerful Christian conservatives are stepping up to defend the beleaguered candidate. They are, however, very much in the minority. As our graphic of the week shows, strong majorities of Americans (including white evangelical Protestants) support allowing a woman to get an abortion if the pregnancy was the result of rape.
Three newly “discovered” passages from the New Testament may force some to rethink the social gospel. (Thanks to Thomas for sending this in!)