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?
Are children raised in atheist households likely to become non-believing adults? Dylan Matthews at Vox raises this question when considering a 2008 study that shows only 46 percent of people raised unaffiliated remain unaffiliated into their adulthood. However, PRRI Research Director Dan Cox notes in a recent Huffington Post article that the religiously unaffiliated are more likely to hold onto their childhood identity today than in the past. In the 1970s, only 34 percent of Americans raised in unaffiliated households remained so as adults. In 2012, 61 percent of those raised unaffiliated were still without religion in adulthood.
Thousands of Jewish people from Israel and around the world gathered in Poland on Monday to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day. Gatherers silently marched at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi German concentration camp to remember the nearly 430,000 Hungarian Jews who died there.
In an effort to eliminate racial bias in the criminal justice system, the Justice Department will begin collecting data on stops, searches and arrests in five U.S. cities. According to the Justice Department black men were six times more likely, and Latino men are 2.5 times more likely, to be imprisoned than white men in 2012. Fifty-three percent of white Americans agree that black Americans and other minorities receive equal treatment to white Americans in the criminal justice system. Nearly three-fourths (74 percent) of black Americans and roughly 6-in-10 (58 percent) Hispanic Americans disagree.
The United Church of Christ filed a lawsuit against North Carolina yesterday, claiming the state’s ban on same-sex marriages violates the clergy’s right to freely exercise their religion. It bears noting that, unlike 10 years ago when there were no major religious groups in which a majority supported same-sex marriage, today majorities of Catholics (57 percent), mainline Protestants (62 percent), and Jewish people (83 percent) favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry.