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?
Dennis Rodman has announced plans to head up a basketball diplomacy event involving North Korea following his trip to Pyongyang, during which he spent time with his pal Kim Jong-un. Kim may be one of the world’s most repressive dictators, but hey, The Worm says he’s a great guy who’s just doing his job.
You can talk the talk, but you’d better not walk the walk in criticizing China’s government. A new study conducted by Harvard University social scientist Gary King finds Chinese censors are most likely to crack down on efforts to mobilize action, while they’re more inclined to let critiques of leaders and policies slide.
Nine-in-ten Chinese LGBT folks said in a recent survey that they haven’t come out at work, and fear of workplace discrimination is a top reason why. In the United States, 73 percent of people favor laws that would protect gay and lesbian people from job discrimination.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is leading a nationwide effort to show lawmakers that the Catholic community supports immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for people currently living in the United States undocumented. A majority (65 percent) of Catholics support the immigration system allowing a way for immigrants currently living in the United States illegally to become citizens provided they meet certain requirements, including 62 percent of white Catholics and 74 percent of Hispanic Catholics. Interestingly, the biblical example of welcoming the stranger is not the main reason Catholics support the path to citizenship, with only 47 percent of Catholics saying that following this example should be a very or extremely important moral guide to immigration reform.
Pope Francis is continuing to encourage world leaders to avoid taking military action in Syria, as he calls Catholics around the world to fast and pray for peace in the country. Perhaps it’s working — a possible new solution surfaced yesterday when Syrian leaders indicated a willingness to hand over their chemical weapons. Be sure to check out The Atlantic’s latest piece exploring the reasons behind the international community’s ban on chemical weapons.
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