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?
Tough commute this morning? Well, it may not be too long before your car can drive itself, if the development of this self-driving car by engineers at Carnegie Mellon is any indication.
Senator John McCain is spending the summer drumming up support in his home state of Arizona for the immigration reform bill he helped to write, which has passed the Senate and is pending in the House. Eighty-one percent of Arizona residents say reforming the nation’s immigration system should be a high priority for President Obama and Congress this year.
Nicole Soojung Callahan’s latest for The New York Times, “Mixed Kids are Always so Beautiful,” offers an interesting look at the often well-intentioned but occasionally misguided comments from friends, family and strangers that come with raising multiracial children. A recent Reuters poll shows roughly one-third of Americans younger than 30 who are married or in a relationship are with someone of a different race.
Leaders of the Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles, better known as the Temple of the Stars, are pursuing a $150 million restoration and expansion of the stunning 80-year-old synagogue ahead of the upcoming high holy days. The restoration is welcome news to Jewish leaders across the country, who have watched as other temples have closed their doors in recent years due to declining membership and funding. (Thanks to Arnie for sending this in!)
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has signed a law banning therapy that aims to convert gay and lesbian minors into being straight. The new state law follows a similar ban on gay conversion therapy for minors in California, and follows flagship “ex-gay” group Exodus International’s June announcement that it was closing its doors after 37 years of working with gay men and lesbians to change their sexual orientation through prayer and therapy. A majority (53 percent) of Americans say that a gay or lesbian person’s sexual orientation cannot be changed.
Ah, the digital dating age. Text message shorthand can make deciphering your love interest’s messages tricky enough, but throw in some emoticons and, more complicated yet, emoji, and you’re bound to be baffled. Nick Bilton’s latest op-ed for The New York Times looks at what’s getting lost in translation as American adults adopt the language of Japanese teenagers. Maybe older Americans just don’t understand, as 16 percent of Millennials say their generation is more tech savvy than their parents’ generation.