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 daily 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?
Thomas Edsall’s latest op-ed for The New York Times cites Public Religion Research Institute’s September 2012 Race, Class and Culture Survey in an exploration of how Democrats can win back the votes of white working class Americans.
Be sure to check out our latest Graphic of the Week, which depicts the role negative religious teachings about, or treatment of, gay and lesbian people have played in Americans’ decisions to leave religion altogether. Among Millennials (Americans ages 18 to 33) who were raised religious and are now unaffiliated, nearly one-third (31 percent) say such teachings played a role in their decisions to leave religion.
How much will it cost you to pass on health insurance? More than you might think, according to a new piece over at NPR that explores the penalties facing people who refuse to comply with Obamacare. In June 2013, a few months before the new law went into effect, 42 percent of Americans favored repealing and eliminating the health care law, while 42 percent opposed.
A sculpture depicting Jesus as a homeless person asleep on a park bench next to a plaque quoting Matthew 25:40 — “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” — is causing quite a stir. Supporters of the statue, which sits outside St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Davidson, North Carolina, say it’s an important reminder to be charitable to those less fortunate; critics call it “creepy” and “macabre.” When asked what Jesus and the prophets meant when they discussed taking care of the poor, half (50 percent) of Americans felt they were primarily talking about charitable acts by individuals, while 41 percent believe they were speaking to our obligation to create a just society.
Finally, The Atlantic has posted a cool new video showing what happens around the world in the time span of one minute, including the number of babies born, couples marrying, and planes taking flight.