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.
Click here to read PRRI CEO Dr. Robert P. Jones’s latest for The Atlantic. Dr. Jones argues that while social issues have brought about a surprising alliance between Protestant evangelicals and Catholic bishops, the pontiff’s focus on economic justice could complicate matters.
At first glance, the link between evangelicals and Catholics seems like a political match made in heaven, with the U.S. Bishops cultivating a new evangelical flock to compensate for the loss of lay Catholic support on cultural issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. Francis is mindful of this other flock. On March 31, for example, he met with 18 members of the Green family, staunch Southern Baptists and owners of the billion-dollar Hobby Lobby empire that is suing the Obama Administration over the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act. But the pope’s call for economic justice complicates the relationship, because it calls both Catholics and evangelicals to cooperation beyond a narrow band of cultural politics. It remains to be seen whether this evangelical flock will hear in Pope Francis’ broader message the voice of a shepherd they can follow.
Click here to read the rest at The Atlantic.