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?
Today, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) will join Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli in delivering the keynote address to Liberty University’s convocation, which the evangelical Christian school says is the largest weekly gathering of Christian young people in the nation. To learn more about the relationships between libertarians and white evangelical Protestants, be sure to RSVP for the release of our 2013 American Values Survey, “In Search of Libertarians in America,” tomorrow at Brookings Institution!
President Obama says he may consider a Republican-backed series of small bills to provide a path to citizenship for the 11 million people currently living in the United States illegally, rather than solely backing the comprehensive immigration reform bill passed by the Senate in June and set to soon be taken up by the House. Roughly one-quarter (24 percent) of Americans say reforming the nation’s immigration system should be the highest priority for President Obama and Congress this year, and an additional 47 percent say it should be a high priority for the president and lawmakers. Additionally, 63 percent of Americans favor allowing a way for those currently living in the country illegally to become citizens, provided they meet certain requirements.
The Air Force Academy is considering removing “so help me God” from its honor oath, in response to a complaint from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation that the phrase violates students’ constitutional rights. Seventy-two percent of Americans agree that religion is private matter that should be kept out of public debates over social and political issues, while 27 percent disagree.
And this may not be surprising given that nearly 4-in-10 Americans say they’ll never be able to afford to retire, but church giving is down to Great Depression-era lows among American Protestants.
The archbishop of St. Louis has challenged his counterpart in Boston to a $100 wager (for charity) as the Cardinals prepare to take on the Red Sox in the 2013 World Series. Twenty-seven percent of Americans say God plays a role in determining which team wins sporting events, while 70 percent of Americans disagree.