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?
Would you like to eat your chicken McNuggets off a crisp white tablecloth? Some McDonald’s franchisees in Australia are making your dream a reality.
New data shows that teen pregnancy rates in New York City have plunged 27% over the past decade. Over this time, the city has worked to make it easier for teenagers to access condoms and other contraceptives. A slim majority of Americans favor allowing methods of birth control to be available to teenagers age 16 and older without parental approval.
By the end of the month, the Obama administration will file two briefs in a pair of cases on same-sex marriage that will come before the Supreme Court early this spring.
New research uses surnames to trace how economic inequality affects multiple generations. A majority of Americans believe that one of the big problems in this country is that we don’t give everyone an equal chance in life.
A Lutheran-Church Missouri Synod pastor who participated in a multi-faith prayer service in Newtown, Connecticut apologized for violating his hierarchy’s prohibition on joint worship with other religions. The president of the Synod accepted his apology. (Thanks to Tom for sending these in!)
The Catholic bishops in Louisiana are seeking to stop the Ash Wednesday execution of a man convicted of a child’s murder, but so far, without success; Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal rejected their request, and the Louisiana Board of Pardons denied the convicted man’s clemency petition without a hearing. A slim majority of Catholics favor life in prison with no chance of parole for people convicted of murder, rather than the death penalty.