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.
The United Methodist Church, the second-largest Protestant denomination in the world, faces a imminent schism as traditionalist and progressives church leaders are unable to reconcile their views on the issue of same-sex relations. In the United States, 62 percent of white mainline Protestants support the legalization of same-sex marriage.
For those readers eager to know the outcome of the congressional elections this November, The Upshot’s got you covered with an interactive forecasting model that provides up-to-the-minute predictions about the 2014 midterm Senate races. By calculating the win probabilities for each state’s individual candidates, The Upshot determines that the Democrats currently have a slight edge over Republicans.
Gallup just released its global survey measuring the happiest places in the world. You might be surprised about where the United States ranks on the list, which is featured in a slide show at the Washington Post.
In a profile about Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the New York Times explores how Pope Francis’s move away from culture war issues like same-sex marriage and abortion has impacted the Catholic Church’s hierarchy. A staunch defender of Catholic orthodoxy, Dolan still retains influence in the U.S., but as Francis has elevated less conservative Bishops and Cardinals, the center of gravity in the American church has shifted. Among U.S. Catholics, 37 percent say the Church should preserve traditional beliefs and practices, while an equal number (37 percent) say the Church should adjust traditional beliefs in light of new circumstances; 23 percent say the Church should adopt modern beliefs and practices.
National Journal looks at where military veterans are most likely to settle after returning to civilian life.