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?
The decades-long academic and religious argument over when the Buddha was born and died may be coming to a close, as scientists have uncovered physical evidence that, for the first time, pinpoints his passing to some time during the sixth century B.C.
As President Obama called immigration reform “good for the American people” in remarks from San Francisco yesterday, PRRI released its new report, What Americans (Still) Want from Immigration Reform, at the American Academy of Religion’s Annual Conference in Baltimore. Check out coverage of the report’s launch at The New York Times, CNN, NBC Latino, The Washington Post and Bloomberg!
Be sure to check out Dr. Robert P. Jones’s latest column over at The Washington Post on the report’s findings of bipartisan and cross-religious support for immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants currently living in the United States illegally. Today, 63 percent of Americans favor providing a way for immigrants who are currently living in the United States illegally to become citizens provided they meet certain requirements. This support for a path to citizenship has remained unchanged from earlier this year, when in both March and August 2013 an identical number (63 percent) supported a path to citizenship for immigrants currently living in the United States illegally.
A federal judge has ruled that tax-free housing for clergy members, currently allowed through an IRS exemption, is unconstitutional as it violates the separation of church and state and guarantees of equal protection. If the ruling stands, clergy members could see a five to 10 percent decrease in their take-home pay each year. Americans are divided on whether the principle of separation of church and state is being threatened in America today, with 45 percent reporting that it is, and 48 percent saying it’s not.
Finally, as debates on increasing the minimum wage continue to make headlines across the country, NPR has a series of graphs showing who in America is currently making the minimum wage by occupation, age and gender. Seventy-one percent of Americans favor raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10 per hour, while 24 percent oppose.