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?
This week, PRRI is proud to release A Shifting Landscape: A Decade of Change in American Attitudes about Same-sex Marriage and LGBT Issues. For you local Buzz fans, be sure to RSVP for the release event Wednesday, February 26, at 10:00 a.m. over at the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Barbara Jordan Conference Center. PRRI CEO Dr. Robert P. Jones will discuss the findings with a panel of leading researchers, including Kaiser’s own Dr. Jennifer Kates, Dr. Clyde Wilcox of Georgetown University, and Washington Post columnist Jonathan T. Capehart. Click here for more information, or here to register!
Pope Francis called last week for leaders in the Roman Catholic Church to take a “pastoral” approach to congregants dealing with controversial issues such as divorce, cohabitation, same-sex marriage and contraception, Religion News Service’s David Gibson reports from the Vatican.
Arizona’s state Senate has passed a bill to allow businesses to refuse service to any customer if doing so would violate the owners’ religious beliefs. Proponents of the bill say it allows citizens to live out their faith, while opponents say the bill would encourage new forms of discrimination. Half (50 percent) of the country says religious liberty is being threatened in America today, while 49 percent say it is not under threat.
New research from the Brookings Metropolitan Policy program has identified America’s most economically unequal cities, finding Atlanta, San Francisco and Miami to be among the cities with the largest income gap between rich and poor residents. Seventy percent of Americans report knowing the income gap between the rich and poor Americans has gotten larger during the past ten years, while 21 percent believe it’s stayed about the same; five percent believe this gap has gotten smaller.
Finally, scientists have proven what many of us have known for years: dogs can sense how we’re feeling thanks to an emotional detector in their brains, which reads our voices and helps them to respond accordingly. Check out NPR’s article on the research, which comes complete with some very sweet pictures of pups!