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?
Happy 2014, Buzz fans! For those of you wondering what’s in and what’s out this year, be sure to check out The Washington Post’s comprehensive line-up. (Who knew gyms in churches were the hot new thing?)
A federal judge in New York has ruled the state’s expanded ban on assault weapons is constitutional, as it serves to further the state’s interest in securing the public safety. Residents of the Northeast United States are the most likely to support gun control laws, with 72 percent reporting they favor passing stricter gun laws compared to about one-quarter (26 percent) who oppose.
Be sure to check out our blog for my latest piece on Utah officials’ appeal of a federal judge’s ruling allowing same-sex marriage in the state to the U.S. Supreme Court. Utah might seem an unlikely state to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry, given that its population is heavily Mormon—62.2 percent according to recent tallies—a group broadly opposed to homosexuality.
A group opposed to the Boy Scouts of America’s decision to include gay youths among its ranks has started Trail Life USA, billing the new group as a Christian alternative to the Boy Scouts and organizing 500 troops ahead of today’s launch. Two-thirds (67 percent) of Americans agree that gay and lesbian relationships should be accepted by society, while roughly 1-in-4 (26 percent) disagree.
And for those of you feeling a little stuck in 2013, NPR’s featuring an awesome five-minute mash-up of the year’s 68 most popular songs and music videos to help you re-live your favorite (and least favorite) jams!