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?
It’s always comforting to know that our tax dollars support important legislative debates over “bear ranches.”
New data from Gallup shows that residents in the District of Columbia are most likely to identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (10%), while people in North Dakota are least likely to identify as LGBT (1.7%). Perhaps unsurprisingly, Gallup found that of the 10 states and D.C. where at least 4% of respondents identified as LGBT, seven are among the most liberal states in the country.
Less than 3-in-10 (29%) Americans say that having different religious beliefs is a major problem for a marriage or romantic relationship, but their outlook may be different when one spouse loses their faith during a marriage. Peggy Fletcher Stack writes about this conundrum among Mormon couples.
Catholic scholar George Weigel calls for a new era of “evangelical” Catholicism – but is such a vision realistic? More at the Economist.
Bucking a trend of state-level restrictions on abortion, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is seeking to rewrite legislation to guarantee access to late-term abortion for women, if their health is in danger or the fetus is not viable. More than 8-in-10 (86%) Americans agree that a woman should be able to get an abortion if her health is seriously endangered by the pregnancy.
A small but committed group of activists are attempting to overturn laws that prohibit concealed weapons on college campuses. Most Americans would not support this effort: nearly 8-in-10 (77%) say people should not be able to carry concealed guns on campus.