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 man in the moon is slowing our roll. Scientists say the moon’s gravity causes gravitational friction, which is responsible for extending our day to 24 hours from 23 hours about 200 million years ago.
A student’s anonymous e-mail proposing a “straight-only” chapter of Delta Gamma sorority at Smith College has been met with backlash from students, faculty and national Delta Gamma leaders. The student who penned the note said she felt marginalized as a heterosexual woman on the college’s campus, and while many of her peers have said they don’t believe the college has a problem with discrimination against straight students, college leaders plan to address the issues raised by the incident as a community. Sixty-seven percent of Americans agree gay and lesbian relationships should be accepted by society, while 26 percent disagree.
The latest in Eli Saslow’s series on food stamps for The Washington Post profiles Representative Steve Southerland, the Florida Republican whose proposal to overhaul government food assistance passed the House last week. The bill requires able-bodied adults to work or volunteer at least 20 hours per week to receive food stamps and has been met with mixed reviews, as some Republicans say the reforms aren’t tough enough while Democrats say the bill is unfair to people receiving assistance. Forty-six percent of Americans say people who receive welfare payments are taking advantage of the system, while 44 percent say they’re genuinely in need of help.
Immigrants’ supporters could be close to a big victory in California, as Governor Jerry Brown mulls whether to sign into law a measure that would block local police from holding suspects for immigration agents when they would otherwise be free to leave. Sixty percent of Californians support a path to citizenship for immigrants currently living in the United States, while 23 percent support allowing them to become permanent legal residents but not citizens and 14 percent favor identifying and deporting immigrants living in the United States illegally. To learn more about how Hispanics living in America view the issue of immigration, be on the lookout for our Hispanic Values Survey, to be released Friday at 3 p.m.!
A heat wave in Alaska and surprisingly low temperatures in Florida? Scientists say the latest bout of weird weather is attributable to odd patterns within the polar jet stream, which they say may also be responsible for the recent flooding in Colorado. More than six-in-ten (63 percent) Americans say the weather has gotten more extreme during the last few years, while six percent say it’s gotten less extreme and 29 percent say it hasn’t changed.