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?
The confusing yet endlessly intriguing saga of Notre Dame football star Manti Te’o’s imaginary girlfriend has sent the internet into a tizzy. There are so many questions to be answered: did Manti Te’o (much like his distinguished forbear, Henry VIII) get “catfished”? How will Hawaii Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who was praising Te’o on the House floor as recently as a month ago, take the news?
Disgraced former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford has announced that he will run for his old congressional seat. Sanford left the governor’s mansion after admitting to an extramarital affair with an Argentine woman. He’s clearly hoping his former constituents will be either forgiving or amnesiac: nearly three-quarters (72%) of Americans say it’s a very serious problem for elected officials to cheat on their spouses.
A new analysis from the American Enterprise Institute shows that, as the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade approaches, Americans oppose overturning the landmark ruling, but favor a wide range of abortion restrictions. Read more about this paradox at our blog.
President Obama will be sworn in for the second time on Monday, using Bibles owned by his political heroes, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. Daniel Burke writes that Obama’s use of scripture echoes both men’s unique rhetorical style. Meanwhile, the word “God” will appear in the oath of office – but not without controversy.
NPR explores the challenges of making marriage work when only one spouse believes in God.