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?
A new poll finds that the slow economic recovery, problems with Obamacare and the partial government shutdown have voters angrier with Washington than ever before. Yikes!
Charlie Savage and Mark Mazzetti over at The New York Times report that the CIA is collecting records of global money transfers under the same law allowing the NSA to track phone records, information sure to contribute to the ongoing national debate over privacy and security. Forty-two percent of Americans say the government has gone too far in monitoring private telephone and email conversations of its citizens and the program should be eliminated, while 31 percent say the government should continue its current monitoring program in order to protect American citizens from terrorism. Nearly one-quarter (23 percent) of Americans were neutral on this question.
The United Methodist Church’s debate over same-sex marriage grew heated after a retired bishop in California ignored a request not to perform a wedding ceremony for a same-gender couple. Fifty-seven percent of white mainline Protestants favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally, while 39 percent oppose.
Be sure to check out our blog for my latest on the challenges facing religiously unaffiliated candidates running for office in America today, as well as a look at the surprisingly significant difference in Americans’ perceptions of atheists versus the non-religious.