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?
Pope Francis won the Internet again, as a new report from Facebook says folks talked about the pontiff more than anything else during 2013.
Satanists are working to erect “an homage to the historic/literary Satan” next to a statue of the Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of Oklahoma’s state capitol building. Americans are divided on whether the principle of the separation of church and state is being threatened in America today: 45 percent say it is, while 48 percent say it isn’t.
A Catholic high school teacher in Philadelphia was fired after telling school administrators he planned to marry his same-sex partner, even though the pair held a civil union in 2008 and had come together as a couple to several school events in the past. Fifty-seven percent of American Catholics favor allowing same-sex couples to marry legally, while 40 percent oppose.
The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, which historically played a significant role in campaigning for both Prohibition and women’s suffrage, is now working to keep marijuana from being legalized as cities and states across the country move to legalize the drug’s use. A slight majority (51 percent) of Americans believe the use of marijuana should be legal, while 44 percent oppose.
Be sure to check out Mark Oppenheimer’s latest for The New York Times, which explores the interesting relationship between Christianity and the animal rights movement through the years. (Thanks to Steph for sending this in!)
Did you shop at a traditional grocery store this weekend? If so, odds are you’re an independent voter, according to new data compiled by consumer research firm Scarborough. (In case you’re wondering, Democrats tend to choose shops like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, while Republicans are more likely to head to Wal-Mart and Costco.)