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?
Same story, different state. Pennsylvania became the second state this week–and the 11thoverall since the 2013 Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage–to overturn its ban on same-sex marriage. The judge presiding over the case said the law should be tossed in the “ash heap of history.” More than 6-in-10 (61 percent) of Pennsylvanians favor legalizing same-sex marriage; 35 percent oppose.
Ritchie King at FiveThirtyEight ponders the irony that, while Democrats are popular with women voters, no state in the Northeast–a Democratic stronghold and liberal hotbed–has ever elected a female Democratic governor. He crunches the numbers and discovers only 23 states have elected a total of 30 female governors throughout history, 19 Democrats and 11 Republicans. In Senate elections, women hardly fare better. Overall 35 percent of women in the United States identify as Democrat, while 20 percent say they are Republican and 36 percent are independent.
Conventional wisdom suggests that “Dreamers,” immigrants living in the U.S. illegally who were brought to the country as children, tend to strongly favor the Democratic Party, but a new study from the University of California, San Diego turns that notion on its ear. The report, which was based on interviews with young immigrants without legal status, found that only half identify with Democrats and half claim to be independent or have no party affiliation. More telling, the youths tend to hitch their political support to the party making the most progress on immigration reform that provides a path to citizenship. Politicians will want to take note. Even though the young people surveyed are not able to vote, they are politically active and, according to the study, wield considerable influence with their legally-voting peers.
New research out of Italy shows that first-born children are likely to be more conservative than their siblings, regardless of the political leanings of their parents.
Religion News Service explores the connection between the seminal Brown v. Board of Education decision and religious life in the United States. According to an article by Tom Ehrich, after the ruling in 1954, white flight caused a racial divide in congregations around the country. Urban churches became–and are still–primarily black whereas suburban congregations remain predominantly white.
Yesterday, PRRI Research Director Daniel Cox joined Michael Wear, Sociologist Penny Edgell and Jaweed Kaleem on HuffPost Live to discuss PRRI’s new study, “I Know What You Did Last Sunday,” which reveals Americans’ propensity to exaggerate their religious attendance. Check out the conversation here, and for a look at the study click here.