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Discussing religion, spirituality and values. Amy Umble is the religion reporter for The Free Lance-Star. You can email her at
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Betting on God and other stuff

First, an interesting religion story from the United Kingdom:

Irish bookies lower odds on God’s existence

LONDON (RNS) Thanks to — or perhaps in spite of — a huge new atom smasher near Geneva and a bus advertising campaign by atheists in London, a leading bookmaking firm in Britain has shortened odds on the existence of God to 4-1 — subject to proof.

    The Irish bookie company Paddy Power actually began taking bets on whether there is a provable God when the multibillion-dollar Large Hadron Collider was switched on last September.

    This is the machine that physicists hope will get down to the fundamentals of how the universe was created, with the hoped-for discovery of an elusive sub-atomic particle nicknamed the "God’s particle."

    At that time, Paddy Power offered longish odds of 20-1 that proof would be found that the Supreme Being is real — but lengthened it to33-1 when the atom smasher had to be shut down because of a magnetic problem.

Click here for the rest of the story.

 Also, there’s some info out about how faith influenced Tuesday’s presidential election:

Republicans typically win the weekly churchgoing voters. They did this time, too, but the gap has narrowed. Last time, the GOP enjoyed a 29-point advantage in this category. This time, it was 12 points. About 55 percent of weekly churchgoers chose McCain while 43 percent picked Obama.

Monthly churchgoers chose Obama.

More than half of Catholic voters picked Obama–55 percent and 44 percent chose McCain.

White evangelicals represented 23 percent of the vote. Three-quarters of them voted for McCain. Not so surprising numbers, but that does represent a 5 percent drop from those who supported Bush last time.

Analysts say these findings are significant and represent the narrowing of what is called the God Gap–the idea that the religious often choose the GOP.

Katie Paris, director of communications strategy at Faith in Public Life said, "2008 was a dramtically different year for religion and politics than 2004. Evangelicals are not monolithic, Catholics are indeed swing voters, and the religious voices on the political scene are no longer just a few."

Religion analysts say the white evangelicals are diversifying, and the Democrats are reaching more faithful worshippers.

The Rev. Richard Cizik, a Stafford County resident and vice preseident for governmental affairs at the National Association of Evangelicals said, "There are cracks occurring in the religious right. The cracks occur because millions of evangelicals are concerned about hyperbolic rhetoric and the partisan attitude that pervades their public speech."

Many have said evangelicals are changing their voting habits as the broaden their issues and become more concerned with poverty, healthcare and the environment.