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’s graphic illustrates a striking generation gap on same-sex marriage which crosses party lines. Majorities of Millennial Republicans (58%) and Democrats (77%) favor same-sex marriage, compared to 14% of senior Republicans (age 65 and older) and senior Democrats (50%). In other words, while older Republicans and Democrats remain quite polarized on the issue, younger Republicans and Democrats are closer to reaching an accord.