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.
This week, PRRI Research Director Dan Cox had the opportunity to sit down with the proprietors of the American Enterprise Institute’s “Banter” podcast, Stu and Andrew, to discuss our recent poll on sports and religion. The hosts confessed their impulse to get on their knees and pray during the Super Bowl (one of them is from San Francisco), while Dan explored the poll’s findings, which discovered that nearly 3-in-10 Americans believe God has a hand in the outcome of sporting events.
Dan explained regional differences on the issue, and delved into some of the poll’s other findings, which included Americans’ perspective on whether God rewards faithful athletes with good health and success. Does God have stronger feelings about Ray Lewis, the Ravens linebacker who often expresses his faith publicly, than the ill-fated Tim Tebow, who often prays on the field but may soon be out of a job?
You can listen to the podcast here. Dan’s section begins around 9 minutes in.