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?
Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle say they’re representing citizens’ interests by not compromising on Obamacare, but what do Americans really want? Well, that’s a tricky question. Fifty six percent of the U.S. population agrees the government should guarantee health insurance for all citizens, even if it means raising taxes, and a full 44 percent oppose that view. Meanwhile, Americans’ views on the 2010 health care law are split evenly; 42 percent of Americans favor repealing and eliminating the law, while 42 percent oppose repealing the law. Less than one-third of Americans believe that the federal government is either generally working (7 percent) or working with some major problems (24 percent). Roughly two-thirds say the federal government is broken but working in some areas (40 percent) or completely broken (26 percent).
A few security guards and some barricades weren’t about to stop these World War II veterans from walking, and in some cases wheeling, their way around the memorial dedicated to their service on the National Mall yesterday. Several members of Congress met the group of Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight vets at the monument to ensure they had full access to the site, in spite of the closure of all national malls and parks due to the government shutdown.
Church shopping? Look no further than your smart phone! FaithStreet is a new app that connects users with local churches, and creators say the product aims especially to hook up the growing number of religiously unaffiliated Americans with local faith communities in 3,677 American cities. PRRI data shows more than one-in-five (21 percent) Americans identify as religiously unaffiliated.
Happy World Vegetarian Day, Buzz fans! Check out this great story over at NPR about the world’s oldest vegetarian restaurant, Hiltl, which you can visit even today in Zurich! Six percent of Americans say they keep a vegetarian diet, and an additional 38 percent say they have a close friend or family member who’s vegetarian.
Finally, for those of you who are furloughed, please continue to use your time away from the office to come up with (and try out) these amazing government shutdown pick-up lines.