Quotes & Sayings

We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write from the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Does the Bible Prove Open Theology?

The Bible Proves Open Theology?

by Thomas Jay Oord
November 15, 2012

I’ve been working with my graduate theological students lately on issues pertaining to open theism. A few biblical passages have played key roles in the discussion.

I’m of the opinion that the majority of the Bible supports open theology’s notions about a loving God in relationship with the world. I think the Bible generally supports the notion that creatures have genuine freedom, which God gives them.

I also think the Bible supports, overall, the view that God does not know all of the details of the future until those details are worked out in actual experience. I believe God knows all of the possibilities for the future. But I don’t think God knows with certainty which possibilities will be actual until the time comes.

Let me be quick to admit, however, that a few passages in the Bible do not easily fit open theology. They don’t fit, at least, in the way they are typically interpreted. In some, the English words translators use lead away from an openness perspective, although the original Hebrew or Greek words may not do so.

I thought I’d post the biblical passages we’ve been working through together. In my view, they support open and relational theologies well.

God Regrets
In the story of Noah, we find that God observes something God apparently did not expect. In fact, God has regrets. This suggests that God doesn’t know all of the future with certainty.

“The LORD saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.” – Genesis 6:5-6

God Learns

When God sends Abraham to kill his son, God isn’t sure what Abraham will do. Will he be obedient? After seeing Abraham ready to go through with the sacrifice, God learns something about Abraham God did not know previously.

“Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son. But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." He said, "Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." Genesis 22:10-2

God Changes Plans

God says Hezekiah will die. This apparently reflects God’s plans. But Hezekiah pleads for continued life. So God changes plans, based on Hezekiah’s response. This suggests the future is not settled, complete, or done, and God doesn’t know with certainty all things that will occur in the future.

“In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, "Thus says the LORD: Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover." Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall, and prayed to the LORD: "Remember now, O LORD, I implore you, how I have walked before you in faithfulness with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight." And Hezekiah wept bitterly. Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah: "Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the LORD, the God of your ancestor David: I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life.” Isaiah 38: 1-5

God Changes His Mind

Many of us know the story of Jonah and the big fish. But fewer know that God’s plans changed because of Nineveh’s eventual repentance. God tells Jonah that the city will fall. But because Nineveh repented, God changed his mind. God’s statement about Nineveh falling must have been conditional and not express something certain about the future.

“The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time, saying, "Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you." So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days' walk across. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day's walk. And he cried out, "Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!" And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth. When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. Then he had a proclamation made in Nineveh: "By the decree of the king and his nobles: No human being or animal, no herd or flock, shall taste anything. They shall not feed, nor shall they drink water. Human beings and animals shall be covered with sackcloth, and they shall cry mightily to God. All shall turn from their evil ways and from the violence that is in their hands. Who knows? God may relent and change his mind; he may turn from his fierce anger, so that we do not perish." When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.” Jonah 3:1-10


Do these passages (and many others like them) prove that open and relational theologies are the only way we rightly interpret the Bible? Do they prove that open and relational theologies offer the correct view of God and God’s relation to creation and the future?


But they offer compelling reasons for Christians who think open and relational theologies do a better job than other theological frameworks. They are strong evidence for the biblical basis for open theism. And biblical passages such as these invite us all into the discussion of how we might best think about, worship, imitate, and love the God described in the Bible.

Rebirth: Towards An Open Bible and Emerging Faith

What seems heretical to the enfranchised must be mandatory
for the disenfranchised in order to regain some semblance of
a living faith unsheltered from this present day world of
postmodern angst, agnosticism, disbelief, and atheism. - R

A little while ago a Facebook friend and I bantered over the meanings of the new Pew report showing how Americans voted in the 2012 Presidential elections between Republican and Democratic party lines (posted at the end of this post).

Our observations ran like this -

"From the survey it is very interesting to look at the voting patterns of Black Protestants, Black Other Christians, and Hispanic Catholics. I think this pattern suggests a difference in interpretation of the Christian message along racial and ethnic lines. Or is there another interpretation? Are the teachings of Jesus better represented by the voting patterns of White Evangelicals, Mormons, White Catholics, Black Christians, and Hispanic Catholics? And if so, is there an implication by the headline of the Pew report that a vote for Mitt Romney was a test of Faith?" - J

In response I made the following observations (which I now take full liberty to elaborate upon!) -
"Good points all J - . Which is why I wanted to put up the link in the first place in order to show how various people groups of faith differed in their perceptions of political issues and events. And how those perceptions then created differing voting patterns amongst those same faith groups.
"This same reasoning lies behind Christianity's history of denominationalism... that the dominate theology of the dominate people-group usually ruled. This has been true since time immemorial (sic, the Church eras of the Early Church Fathers that led to Catholicism's wide acceptance; then its separation into Eastern Orthodoxy's forms of faith; which then led many years later to the Lutheran and Protestant Reformation; and finally, to some form of Evangelicalism in the 19th and 20th Centuries).

"I grew up in a predominately fundamental and evangelical region of the country which means that I have experienced a high degree of religious and social conservatism. However, this same region is now experiencing an influx of newer, non-native people-groups migrating into this area (new students, workers, minority and refugee groups). Which means that the church's traditional evangelicalism is being challenged as to its right to "rule," and "king-making" privileges, within our city/county governments, public and private schools, and churches of varying stripes and colours." - R

I went on to state in a more abbreviated fashion than I do here -

"Moreover, we should be aware that if we fall into a dominate people-group (like I have experienced) that its views of life and, its biblical interpretations of the bible, doesn't get to rule for all other peoples in that area. Living in a pluralistic society will not allow this. Pluralism requires listening to others and adjusting our thoughts and behaviors, practices and beliefs, lest our Christian faith no longer remains relevant to today's multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, societies.

"For myself, I have personally witnessed the boundaries of Evangelicalism as self-limiting (and excluding) in its expressions, beliefs, doctrines, practices and dogmas. It thus must now require a broader, more pervasive, interpretive philosophic framework that must also include the widest number of Christian viewpoints without unduly diluting the original message of the gospel as expressed through Jesus in the pages of the New Testament. As example, when asking "What does the Gospel of Jesus mean to you?" We will find within this topic (dependent upon a respondent's background) a combination of stricter views of religious interpretation as well as less formalized views of interpretive meaning." - R

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Now let me digress for a bit -

For the past dozen years or more I have been on a new spiritual journey away from the Evangelicalism that I was familiar with towards a more open, post-evangelical expression of Christianity. Not long ago I started writing down my thoughts using Relevancy22 as my preferred medium of choice to document my journey seeking the broadest philosophic (or theosophic) frame of reference that would no longer delimit the gospel message to any one particular religious group. I first began this effort by listening to mine own group's rhetoric and disappointments. This meant that I had to evaluate the state of affairs that now existed within Evangelicalism while determining whether its version of the gospel of Jesus could be modified to other forms and frames of Christian reference.  And if not, to determine whether a newer expression of Evangelicalism, or some other form, may be a better representation of the Christian faith. One that might be more rigorous to the original intent of the New Testament Scriptures where the Gospel of Jesus is found. And yet less rigorous to the preponderance of itself as a religious institution. And if so, I would need to address the very foundations upon which this religious expression of faith existed while removing any past claimants become useless, or unhelpful, in the evolving dusts of historical progress.

Of course, this type of effort is being done everyday within the many branches of Christian ministry and education, and under a wide variety of religious views and -isms. However, not all views are as dominate - or as durable - as the Evangelic view. Which, for me, was the very one that was demanding my response to its present contemporary beliefs and practices. It necessitated that I step back from my own faith background and look at larger ecumenical forms and perspectives of Christianity. And specifically, those forms and perspectives that were relevant to today's postmodern (or, post-postmodern) generations while staying faithful to the testimony of Scripture. Along the way I discovered other similar research as my own being conducted that correlated present faith practices and dogmas across the Christian spectrum to one another, and to the NT Gospel itself. This I considered rather encouraging and have made all efforts to correlate and incorporated those newer, more relevant, discoveries and progressive responses to mine own. Thus providing a "hosts of witnesses" to this same effort as mine own so that no one should think that I am alone in my mind and heart on these dis-settling matters.

Overall, the key for me was that of determining the broadest possible philosophical and theological perspectives that might present the widest possible interpretations within the biblical faith without doing harm to Christianity's original content, intent, and message. It would require a broader, more open Bible, and the willingness to leave behind ingrained (conservative) Evangelical (or Fundamental) concepts that have for a long, long time been considered sacrosanct to the church's dogmas. Thus began my journey towards a more progressive form of Evangelicalism I have been calling Emergent Christianity.*

Moreover, I am acutely aware that Emergent Christianity has received bad press and, at times, poor representation amongst its more public adherents. However, rather than throw all out I am preferring to reshape it against the many Christian doctrines being held hostage within the impregnable fortress walls of high Calvinism and Evangelical folklore. Once released and given newer expression of life within the broader philosophic/theosophic interpretations of the bible, I will expect a better PR reception to what Emergent Christianity is now receiving. And if not, then we'll rename it something else with a less disparaging history and move on. Names don't matter. But better biblical interpretive work does matter. As does resultant practice, worship, and mission. The gospel of Jesus needs reclaiming and can no longer go any further along in its present day witness when held imperfectly by all other non-Emergent faith disciplines. Emergent Christianity when done well will reshape each-and-all while respecting the many flavors of Christianity remaining however they evolve. Relevancy22 has hoped to capture this effort through the works of others intent on sharing Jesus to the world.

What seems heretical to the enfranchised must be mandatory for the disenfranchised in order to regain some semblance of a living faith unsheltered from this present day world of postmodern angst, agnosticism, disbelief, and atheism. I want a Gospel that can speak to today's lost generations of disbelievers far removed from God not realizing that Jesus is as much their Savior as He the church's Savior. That Jesus' gospel message of salvation is for all men everywhere and not restricted to those few believers who dance to the required tunes of Evangelicalism (or to any religion for that matter). That Jesus, through the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit, lives and breathes throughout the spaces of His creation - even in the hearts of the wicked refusing His will and word. That there is no place one can exist without God being everywhere present and sharing His love within this wicked, sinful world. That His light can dispel darkness. His grace bring peace and forgiveness. His wisdom deliver us from the wickedness of our own hands. That we live and breathe firstly to love and serve all around us unto the glories of God's holy redemption found in the atoning sacrifice of Christ Jesus His Son and Second Person of the Trinity.
Foolishly, we speak neither of Evangelicalism nor of Emergent Christianity, but of the church of God sent to minister and to save through the Gospel of Jesus. We are neither of Paul nor Apollos. Of Peter nor John. Of Calvin or Arminius. Of Wesley or Billy Graham. We are but one body. And must learn to listen to one another and serve together as we can. That what once mattered in ages past must be re-jigged and re-configured to meet the needs of the world today. First it means opening up our closed bibles to see humanity afresh. And this then means that it does no good to deny scientific discoveries and findings by twisting its results to something we think it should (or should not) be saying; by refusing gender equality under the banners of hierarchical male domination; by repressing the rights of homosexual couples desiring civil union; by refusing to adapt our religious practices and worship to dissimilar non-native groups that are Hispanic, Asian, or Muslim; by declaring God's judgment upon one-and-all for refusing an evangelical (or Western) view of life; by showing an intolerance and exclusion to those (un)faithful daring to speak out on behalf of the church today; and so on, and so forth.
We do both God and His Word an injustice by keeping our hearts closed and refusing the rightness of His reign and ministry. Yes, we struggle to understand God's heart and the meaning of His words. Yes, we do imperfectly see what Jesus wants us to truly see - did not even His own disciples struggle with their religious ignorance and steadfast ways? Yes, the task is too hard, too foreign, too demanding, too unlike us to dare trying. Yes, we feel ill-equipped and out-of-sync with today's societies gyrating to the newest beats of heathen practice and ideologies. But God is for all men and not just the church. The church of God must get its hands dirty and be willing to give up (as it can) its exclusive religious practices and steel-tight religious boundaries. To be willing to see people as men and women loved by God and not as hell-bound souls. A more open mind, heart and soul can begin this next step. The willingness to doubt ourselves and trust God can help. And throughout this spiritual journey Relevancy22 is committed to lending what help it can to this perplexing landscape of disbelief and disjointed wilderness of religion. In mine own journey I have been sharing both my doubts and discoveries suspecting others to have a similar journey to mine own. And throughout its undertaking I pray that God will be honored and His Word declared as true and righteous. Even as it is given for our edification, reproof and rebuke. Be therefore at peace and know that God is gracious and ever true in leading all who wander upon the darker paths of illuminating self-doubt His own guidance and fellowship. Though singularly alone many times the biblical prophets of their day stood for God and declared His Word to the distress and ignoble arguments of His people. Not all will come but still God's Word must be proclaimed.

Finally, in gracious reply my Facebook friend then said in conclusion -

"Thanks. You are a person with whom I could always discuss religion and politics and come away smarter, happier, and know that I have been heard. "- J

It was a nice reply and made me feel encouraged against too many times when there has been little, to no, encouragement given. Even so, I have felt the same way with my friend as with any seeker who likewise journeys through this vale of tears. It is always best done together with an open heart and inquisitive mind sharing doubts and concerns, prayers and hopes, cheers and dismays. For nothing is definitive unless it is our own shut minds and closed souls unreceptive to God's mighty works within our midst. Let us pray then that God's Spirit not allow us this final definition of ourselves. Be therefore at peace and let God's love shine through all that we say and do within our imperfect lights of His great love.

R.E. Slater
November 15, 2012

by R.E. Slater

@copyright R.E. Slater Publications
all rights reserved

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

*... Should we be thinking in terms of denominational labels let me say that Emergent Christianity (EC) is a bit of a step further to the left of Post-Conservative Evangelicalism (PCE). A cumbersome name at the least! And one I dislike in its witness to the world as it still retains the name of "evangelical" within its much misunderstood label amongst the press - though readily identifiable to the knowledgeable Christian seeking affiliation with the church's historic past. And yet, EC should not be thought of as so far left as to fall into Progressive Mainline Denominationalism (PMD) active in social works, equitable justice, and minority empowerment, but less-focused on Jesus and His Word; nor even left of that into Liberal Theology (LT) concentrated on pure anthropological construction of the biblical text and devoid of Jesus altogether. Why these distinctions? Because many of my evangelical friends believe these things and continue to tell others of these untruths.
Moreover, I have come to believe that EC's present job is to remove the structural restrictions of classical Evangelical expression while making all efforts to create a postmodern Christian orthodoxy that is updated from its current classical expressions of itself. Releasing itself at once from its extra-biblical, non-orthodox past, of disseminated church dogmas and traditions, while immediately seeking truer (more biblical expansive) expressions of historic orthodox doctrines and theologies within the fluid contexts of contemporary, (post-)postmodern global society filling with the unborn generations yet to come. As such, Emergent Christianity - undergirded by an emerging theology - should embrace church movements both right-and-left of itself while providing the Scriptural judgments and spirit of revival requisite for the job at hand for Emergent Christian expression in the 21st Century.
Something classic evangelical churches may attempt to do, but be unable to fully do, if remaining unyielded to critiquing their movement, belief, expectation, hope, and social mores. Even so, it is hoped that migrating PCE congregations will adopt a more progressive tone-and-tenor of toleration within their congregations as they search the Scriptures to determine God's revelation for today's generations. But to simplistic describe one's church as being a "missional church" or a "progressive fellowship" will not be sufficient in the demanding head winds of today's (post-)postmodern societies. To be truly missional, or progressive, is to challenge one's past beliefs and knowledge, relying on the wisdom and power of God's Holy Spirit whom we know as the Fire of God's burning heart alive with the eternal heats of God's divine love unwilling that any be excluded from the Kingdom of God. It is a task we must all unite around.
And because the gospel of Jesus seems to get overlooked in the many good works of PMD, and lost altogether in the biblical redactionism of LT, I don't believe any further movement left by EC is warranted. Consequently, I would like to see the tent of EC expand over all definitive Christian canopies, if possible. Built upon newer, ex-Reformational (ex-Calvinistic) structures, that are more Jewish, more postmodern, more scientific, more pluralistic and expansive. When it does, it will require a global language, symbolism, unity, and faith, that will look wholly unlike anything it does today. In fact, Christianity's postmodern expression will take several generations to accomplish, if not longer. One which we hope to begin here within this era, and by the enterprises of other forward-looking Christian groups, regardless of their heritage and denominational background. Think of these emergent fellowships as "Christian Think Tanks" which will push (lovingly) against the sacred boundaries of the present day Church.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

How the Faithful Voted: 2012 Preliminary Analysis
In his re-election victory, Democrat Barack Obama narrowly defeated Republican Mitt Romney in the national popular vote (50% to 48%)1. Obama’s margin of victory was much smaller than in 2008 when he defeated John McCain by a 53% to 46% margin, and he lost ground among white evangelical Protestants and white Catholics. But the basic religious contours of the 2012 electorate resemble recent elections – traditionally Republican groups such as white evangelicals and weekly churchgoers strongly backed Romney, while traditionally Democratic groups such as black Protestants, Hispanic Catholics, Jews and the religiously unaffiliated backed Obama by large margins.
Vote Choice by Religion and Race
Religiously unaffiliated voters and Jewish voters were firmly in Obama’s corner in 2012 (70% and 69%, respectively). Compared with 2008, support for Obama ticked downward among both Jews and religiously unaffiliated voters in the exit polls, though these declines appear not to be statistically significant. Both of these groups have long been strongly supportive of Democratic candidates in presidential elections. Black Protestants also voted overwhelmingly for Obama (95%).

At the other end of the political spectrum, nearly eight-in-ten white evangelical Protestants voted for Romney (79%), compared with 20% who backed Obama. Romney received as much support from evangelical voters as George W. Bush did in 2004 (79%) and more support from evangelicals than McCain did in 2008 (73%). Mormon voters were also firmly in Romney’s corner; nearly eight-in-ten Mormons (78%) voted for Romney, while 21% voted for Obama. Romney received about the same amount of support from Mormons that Bush received in 2004. (Exit poll data on Mormons was unavailable for 2000 and 2008.)
Compared with religiously unaffiliated and Jewish voters on the left and white evangelicals and Mormons on the right, Catholics and white mainline Protestants were more evenly divided. Among white mainline Protestants in the exit poll, 54% voted for Romney, while 44% supported Obama. This is virtually identical to the 2008 election, when 55% of white mainline Protestants voted for McCain and 44% backed Obama.
White Catholics, by contrast, swung strongly in the Republican direction relative to 2008. Nearly six-in-ten white Catholics (59%) voted for Romney, up from 52% who voted for McCain in 2008. Three-quarters of Hispanic Catholics voted for Obama, and Catholics as a whole were evenly divided in 2012 (50% voted for Obama, while 48% backed Romney).
Vote Choice by Religious Attendance
As in other recent elections, those who attend religious services most often exhibited the strongest support for the Republican presidential candidate. Nearly six-in-ten voters who say they attend religious services at least once a week voted for Romney (59%), while 39% backed Obama. Romney received as much support from weekly churchgoers as other Republican candidates have in recent elections.
Those who say they never attend religious services were again among the strongest Democratic supporters in the presidential election. More than six-in-ten voters who say they never attend religious services voted for Obama (62%). Voters who say they attend religious services a few times a month or a few times a year also supported Obama over Romney by a 55% to 43% margin.
Religious Composition of the 2012 Electorate
The religious composition of the 2012 electorate resembled recent elections, though there are signs that both the white Protestant and white Catholic share of the electorate are gradually declining over the long term.
 Slightly more than half of 2012 voters describe themselves as Protestants (53%), compared with 54% in each of the three previous elections. Roughly four-in-ten voters were white Protestants in 2012 (39%); by comparison, 42% of 2004 and 2008 voters were white Protestants, as were 45% of 2000 voters. The decline in white Protestants’ share of the electorate is most evident among non-evangelicals, whose share of the electorate has declined slightly from 20% in 2004 to 16% in 2012. White evangelical Protestants constituted 23% of the 2012 electorate, compared with 23% in 2008 and 21% in 2004.
One-quarter of 2012 voters were Catholics, including 18% who were white Catholics. By comparison, white Catholics constituted 21% of the electorate in 2000, 20% of voters in 2004 and 19% of the electorate in 2008.
Jews accounted for 2% of the 2012 electorate, and Muslims and members of other non-Christian faiths together accounted for 7% of the electorate. The religiously unaffiliated made up 12% of 2012 voters; the religiously unaffiliated share of the electorate is unchanged from 2008, even though the religiously unaffiliated share of the adult population has grown significantly over this period.
For more election-related analysis from the Pew Research Center, see "Changing Face of America Helps Assure Obama Victory,”Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, Nov. 7, 2012, "Latino Voters in the 2012 Election," Pew Hispanic Center, Nov. 7, 2012 and "A Milestone En Route to a Majority Minority Nation," Pew Social & Demographic Trends, Nov. 7, 2012.

1 This preliminary analysis reflects data for 2012 as published by NBCNews.com as of 10:15 a.m. on Nov. 7, 2012. If data are subsequently re-weighted by the National Election Pool (NEP), the consortium of news organizations that conducts the exit polls, the numbers reported here may differ slightly from figures accessible through the websites of NEP member organizations. As in previous years, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life plans to conduct a more detailed analysis of religion in the 2012 campaign once the raw exit poll data become available.
© Joshua Bickel/Corbis
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