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?
If you’re wondering how that bottle of vino disappeared so quickly, this one’s for you: new research shows wine drinkers often unknowingly over-pour their glasses based on several factors, including the shape and size of their stemware, the color of the wine and whether they filled up an empty glass or topped off a partially full one.
The Religion Newswriters Association has presented its annual awards for excellence in covering religion, offering top prizes to Michelle Boorstein of the Washington Post, G. Jeffrey MacDonald of Religion News Service and VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky, among many others. Congratulations to all those who were honored, and many thanks for a great year of religion reporting!
Pew Research Center’s Rich Morin is highlighting a new study suggesting that more Americans may oppose same-sex marriage than polls show, as pre-election surveys consistently underestimate opposition to legalizing same-sex marriage by five to seven percentage points. Political scientist Richard J. Powell conducted the study, and suspects the discrepancy may be due to the social desirability bias, or people’s tendency to offer views they consider to be socially acceptable rather than their true opinions. PRRI data shows 52 percent of Americans favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally, while 41 percent oppose.
The Vatican has announced both Popes John XXIII and John Paul II will be declared saints next year. The Catholic Church typically requires a person to have lived a holy life and performed two miracles to attain sainthood, but Pope Francis I has decided to canonize Pope John XXIII even though he’s credited with performing just one miracle after his death.
Are women more likely to take a bribe than men? Mexico seems to think so, as the country is replacing male traffic cops with female ones in order to battle corruption. NPR reports on whether the assumption that women are more trustworthy than men is an accurate assessment or an unfair double-standard.