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?
John Sides’s latest piece for The Washington Post explores the effect Nelson Mandela had on boosting black South Africans’ patriotism. In 1982, 98 percent of white South Africans expressed pride in their country, but just 57 percent of black South Africans said the same. Following Mandela’s release from prison in 1990 and early moves to end apartheid, 93 percent of white and 90 percent of black South Africans expressed pride in their country. There is also a modest difference by race on this question in the United States, with 58 percent of white Americans saying they are extremely proud to be American, compared to 50 percent of black Americans.
Over at Religion News Service, Fredrick Nzwili has an interesting piece on the influence Mandela’s Methodist education and embrace of religion and religious institutions had on his work and leadership.
A new study finds a majority of Americans ages 18 to 29 say it is either very or somewhat likely that Obamacare will be repealed next year. Thirty-seven percent of Americans in that age group favor repealing and eliminating the 2010 health care law, while 40 percent say they oppose.
NPR is profiling a new meta-analysis from researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, who analyzed studies from 10 countries to find the difference in cost between a healthy and an unhealthy diet is about $1.50 per day.
Finally, please enjoy this awesome “Best Maps of 2013″ round-up by BuzzFeed showing maps of the country as broken down by issues like unemployment, same-sex marriage, and favorite beer by state.