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?
If you happen to be in Washington DC this morning, head over to the Brookings Institution for the release of “Faith In Equality: Economic Justice and the Future of Religious Progressives.” This major new report by E.J. Dionne, Bill Galston, Korin Davis and Ross Tilchin sheds light on the history of the progressive religious movement in the U.S. and its current challenges and opportunities.
Humanists in foxholes? As of April 12th, all members of the U.S. Army are allowed to check “humanist” as their religious affiliation. The adoption of the new category was the result of request made by Army Major Ray Bradley who was dissatisfied with the options “atheist” or “no religious preference.” Bradley, who identifies as a humanist, first fought to self-identify as someone who stresses scientific explanations and maximizing human happiness more than two years ago. A small minority of the U.S. military (3.6 percent) say they are humanist according to a survey by the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute.
This past Easter Sunday, CBS featured a recent PRRI survey in an interview with Russell Moore, the new leader on ethics and policy for the Southern Baptist Convention. In the segment, correspondent Jan Crawford cites that one-third of of Americans 65 or older identify as evangelicals, but only 1-in-10 Americans ages 18-29 identify as evangelicals. Moreover, one-third of young people say they have left their childhood religion because of its views on gay rights and 43 percent of young evangelicals support same-sex marriage. Click here to watch the video.
If you want a job at which you will be rewarded for taking drugs, making violent threats, misusing your employer’s credit card, and failing to pay your taxes, start applying for open positions at the IRS. Apparently, the organization paid out $2.8 million in bonuses to employees cited for these very transgressions. Chalk it up as another public relations nightmare for the IRS.
The American Journal of Psychiatry published a new study that shows being bullied as a child has long-ranging effects — even into middle age. Victims who said they were bullied occasionally or frequently as a child reported more psychological distress at ages 23 and 50, and were at higher risk for depression, suicidal thoughts, and anxiety disorders at age 45. Roughly two-thirds (66 percent) of Americans agree bullying of gay and lesbian teenagers is a major problem in schools today, while nearly one-quarter (23 percent) disagree.