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.
Last Friday, pro-life activists gathered at the National Mall to protest abortion and mark the 40thanniversary of Roe v. Wade as a “solemn occasion.” The March for Life rallied thousands of pro-life/anti-abortion activists to Washington D.C., but in an exceedingly complex debate over abortion, what do the labels “pro-life” and “pro-choice” actually mean to average Americans? It turns out that identifying as both pro-choice and pro-life is actually more common than one might expect: 43% of Americans overall choose both labels. To see how different religious groups break down, take a look at this week’s graphic of the week.