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?
So it turns out that box of Beanie Babies in your attic isn’t worth millions, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s disappointed. But on the bright side, my fellow taxpayers, the man responsible for creating the plush toy animals is set to cut a $53 million check to the U.S. government. Turns out the IRS takes tax evasion pretty seriously.
You’ve probably heard of hot dogs that answer to a higher authority, but did you know you can now purchase a kosher cell phone? Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel, whose leaders have in the past denounced smart phones as a dangerous evil, have a new option to consider thanks to a line of rabbi-inspected, de-smarted smart phones.
In the United States, more than 1,200 rabbis and cantors are taking time during the Jewish holiday season to urge Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill. Two-thirds (67 percent) of Jewish Americans favor a path to citizenship for immigrants currently living in the United States illegally.
A new atheist PAC, launched yesterday by the Center for Humanist Activism, aims to promote secular government, push for a clear separation of church and state and provide support for atheist, agnostic and humanist political candidates. A majority (67 percent) of Americans say they would be somewhat or very uncomfortable with an atheist serving as president of the United States, while 31 percent say they’d be somewhat or very comfortable with an atheist president.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is scaling back its estimates of how much Obamacare will change the status quo, reporting now that 2014 should see an additional 11 million uninsured Americans obtain coverage down from its earlier estimate of 22 million. Forty-two percent of Americans favor repealing and eliminating the health care law, while 42 percent oppose eliminating the law.
2013: a cursed year for weddings? Plenty of couples seem to think so, as wedding industry leaders attest sales are down this year due to superstitions about unlucky number 13.