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 Catholic Cardinals elected Jorge Maria Bergoglio as the next pope in a surprisingly swift conclave. Bergoglio will be the first Latin American pope, and announced that he will take the name Pope Francis I. The new Pope is likely to appeal to both conservatives and reformers for his commitment to orthodox views on sexual matters and support for social justice. Among American Catholics 42% say the Church should preserve traditional beliefs and practices, while 53% say the Church should adjust traditional beliefs in light of new circumstances or adopt modern beliefs and practices.
Meanwhile, in case you’re having trouble figuring out how many popes are alive at any given time, this chart is here to help you.
As the Boy Scouts of America debate whether to rescind its ban on gay members and scout leaders, the organization sent out a detailed questionnaire to 1.1 million scouts and their families.
Even if Jeb Bush doesn’t run for president in 2016, the Bush dynasty is continuing. George Prescott Bush, Jeb’s son and George W. Bush’s nephew, announced his candidacy for Texas land commissioner.
Perhaps the saddest thing about this revelation is that Mitt Romney doesn’t even drink.