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?
Atheists say the spread of YouVersion, a Bible app for smartphones, will only swell their ranks as people delve deeper into the contradictions in and between translations of the ancient text. Religious leaders say the app’s popularity is a good thing, as it brings the Bible into the conversation on belief. Thirty-six percent of Christians in America say the Bible is the word of God and should be taken literally.
Be sure to check out Dr. Robert P. Jones’s latest column for The Washington Post, which explores patterns of support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) as the Senate prepares to take up and vote on the measure this week. If passed, the federal law would ban employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. Majorities of all religious groups, including religiously unaffiliated Americans (84 percent), Catholics (76 percent), white mainline Protestants (75 percent), minority Protestants (61 percent) and white evangelical Protestants (59 percent) favor laws that would protect gay and lesbian people from job discrimination.
Also, head on over to State of Belief radio to hear Jones’s recent interview with host Rev. Welton Gaddy on the exciting findings of the 2013 American Values Survey: In Search of Libertarians in America!
Obamacare is continuing to face criticism from Americans thanks to widespread health insurance cancellations of policies that don’t meet requirements of the health care law. Most Americans (54 percent) have an unfavorable view of the law, while a substantial minority (44 percent) favor it. While most people who have an unfavorable opinion of the law believe it goes too far, some think it should do more.
Ever wonder what Pope Francis is thinking about when he’s not being quoted by religion reporters? His recently translated book, explored by The Atlantic’s Judah Bellin, offers some answers by delving into the pontiff’s personal theology.