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?
Brrr! As record-breaking freezing temperatures hit the country yesterday, my latest blog piece explores American public opinion on whether U.S. weather patterns have become more extreme in recent years, as well as the possibility that climate change could be to blame. (Bonus: NPR has compiled a photo series of pets frolicking in the snow. Enjoy!)
German public schools are now offering classes on Islam to elementary school students in an effort to foster understanding and counter the influence of radical religious thinking. In America, 14 percent of folks say they know a lot about the religious beliefs and practices of Muslims, while 57 percent say they know a little; 29 percent say they know nothing at all.
Following the Supreme Court’s move to temporarily halt the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate for a Catholic organization in Denver last week, questions have arisen about how the court may handle the estimated 90 legal challenges to the requirement filed thus far. Fifty-five percent of Americans say all employers should be required to provide health care plans covering contraception at no cost, while 40 percent say they should not. Head on over to our blog for more on how Americans feel about employers’ compliance with the contraception mandate.
The burglars who famously raided the FBI on March 8, 1971, making off with numerous files about the bureau’s surveillance measures, were a group of peace demonstrators working to start a debate about the FBI’s power to spy on Americans, according to a newly released book. Five of the eight involved in the break-in have stepped forward to discuss the incident, which opened a national discussion on government surveillance that continues today. Forty-two percent of Americans say the government has gone too far monitoring private telephone and email conversations of American citizens, and the program should be eliminated, while 31 percent say the government should continue its current program of monitoring private telephone and email conversations in order to protect American citizens from terrorism; 23 percent are neutral on the issue.
Oh, and the New York-based Satanic Temple has released designs for a 7-foot statue of Satan flanked by children it hopes to erect next to a depiction of the Ten Commandments on the Oklahoma State Capitol grounds.