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?
Who will Pope Francis root for in the Italy-Argentina soccer match? With divided loyalties, the pontiff is playing it smart and hedging his bets. Go teams!
New research suggests that white Americans may have a more flexible definition of meritocracy when it comes to college admissions than might be expected from public opinion surveys. A survey of white adults in California found a preference for GPA and standardized tests as the basis for college admissions until they learn Asian-Americans have better test scores and higher GPAs than white Americans, at which point they want those factors to play a smaller role in admissions decisions. Only 21 percent of white Americans believe black Americans and other minorities should receive preference in college admission to make up for past inequalities, while 74 percent say they should not receive preference.
Seventy-two percent of Americans believe religion is a private matter that should be kept out of public debates over social and political issues, but a group of religious leaders hopes most folks don’t feel the same way about keeping politics out of the pulpit. Sarah Pulliam Bailey over at Religious News Services explores a new effort to end the law prohibiting churches from endorsing political candidates without risking their tax-exempt status.
Privacy concerns are not just an issue in the United States; the Associated Press reports that our friends across the pond are now being tracked by high tech garbage cans. A network of waste receptacles are monitoring the Wi-Fi signals emitted by smart phones. (Thanks to Arnie for sending this in!)