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15 faith-based predictions for 2012
January 1st, 2012
03:00 PM ET

15 faith-based predictions for 2012

To ring in the New Year, CNN's Belief Blog asked experts in religion, faith leaders, and a secular humanist about how the forces of faith and faithlessness will shape the world in 2012.

Here's what they told us:

1. The Republican Party will tap Mitt Romney as its presidential nominee, and America will finally have its "Mormon moment." As evangelicals try to figure out whether they can support a president who practices Mormonism, the rest of us will try to figure out whether Mormonism is a cult, a form of Christianity, or something in between. Meanwhile, visitors to Marriott hotels will finally crack open some of those nightstand copies of The Book of Mormon.
-Stephen Prothero, Boston University religion professor and regular CNN Belief Blog contributor

2. Despite all of the lessons that could have been learned from Y2K and Harold Camping, people will still rally around the idea that apocalyptic events are on the calendar for 2012. Some will turn to the end-date of the 5125-year-long cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar (closely associated with the Maya civilization) and a handful of folks believe cataclysmic events are awaiting on December 21, 2012. But the dates with will pass with little fanfare — except for those profiting from the sale of gold coins, generators, and dried food that you'd probably rather want to die than eat.
-Margaret Feinberg, author of "Hungry for God"

3. Continuing revolutions across the Arab world will raise alarming questions about the fate of the remaining Christians in the region, and will put the issue of religious persecution squarely on the political agenda. Sizable Christian populations now survive in only two Arab countries, Egypt and Syria, both of which could soon be under Islamist rule. At a minimum, expect to see inter-faith violence on the ground. In a worst case scenario, Arab Christians could face large scale persecution, forcing millions to seek new homes overseas. Watch too for religious persecution to be an emotive issue in the U.S. presidential race.
- Philip Jenkins, Penn State University professor and author of "Laying Down the Sword: Why We Can't Ignore the Bible's Violent Verses"

4. The year will see an increase in the number of people "coming out" as nonbelievers. Major events like the Reason Rally in March will be a catalyst for more people to publicly declare their secular worldview. The statements of popular celebrities George Takei and Ricky Gervais as atheists in 2011 are just the tip of the iceberg.
–Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association

5. "All-American Muslim" will become a bigger hit than "Jersey Shore" ever was. Obsessed fans worldwide, regardless of gender, will begin rocking sassy colorful hijab (veil) and converting en masse. Tim Tebow will choose to fast in solidarity with Muslim football players and Tebowing will be replaced by Teprostrating. President Obama will jump on the bandwagon and replace VP Joe Biden with Keith Ellison as his running mate, guaranteeing his re-election in a landslide victory in November. Peace will reign on earth and pigs will have a new lease on life.
-Maysoon Zayid, comedian, actress and co-producer of the New York Arab American Comedy Festival

6. There's no question the worldview of most younger Christians already differs from previous generations regarding social justice, cultural engagement and politics. The next issue of probable divergence? The conflict in Israel and Palestine. The American church has largely purported just one theology about the modern state of Israel, but now questions are being asked - especially by younger Christians learning of persecution and human rights issues happening in the region - if the church should have a more active role in peacemaking. Is there a way for the Church to be pro-Israel, pro-Palestine and pro-peace?
–Cameron Strang, publisher of RELEVANT magazine

7. Significant numbers of millennials (young people born in the 1980s and 1990s) will continue to walk away from socially conservative religious traditions. Bringing them back will be tough, especially for religious organizations deeply invested in brick-and-mortar and bureaucracy. Millennials who are facing the erosion of access to affordable, quality education and meaningful employment and who stand to inherit from their elders a great deal of debt and environmental destruction want to know why and how faith matters.
-Joanna Brooks, Mormon author and columnist for Religion Dispatches

8. The year 2012 promises to be a time of great spiritual stirring in our nation. People are seeking both practical and spiritual answers to their problems. As a result, churches and media ministries that answer specific needs will grow in unprecedented numbers. We can expect to see the numbers of mega-churches and super mega-churches continue to grow. Culturally there will be marked return to helping the poor (both domestically and internationally) and political and social engagement by a younger/more racially diverse, evangelical people.
–Harry R. Jackson Jr., senior pastor, Hope Christian Church and president of the High Impact Leadership Coalition

9. Sabbath becomes trendy! Fourth Commandment makes a comeback! Sabbath named Time’s person of the year! A new movement sweeps the country. They call themselves 24/6. Worn out by being tethered to the grid 24/7, sick of being accessible all hours of the day, inundated by updates, upgrades, and breaking news, Americans finally rebel, demanding, “We need a day off.” People all over the country go offline for 24 hours every week. The simple break from the frenetic pace results in lowered cholesterol rates, fewer speeding tickets, and a reduction in marital strife. Peace, tranquility and contentment spread like wildfire.
–Jamie Korngold, rabbi and author of "The God Upgrade"

10. Women in the Middle East and around the world will rally in protest about the woman who was beaten, stomped on and stripped down to her blue bra (under her abaya) during a demonstration in Egypt. Women everywhere who have been oppressed by their religions will rise up, as they have already done in Egypt, to join "The Blue Bra Revolution." We're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore.
–Sally Quinn, founder and editor-in-chief of Washington Post's “On Faith”

11.“Occu-pew Church" – a movement away from counterfeit "Church-ianity," cult of personality and religion toward authentic grassroots personal faith, based on living and loving like Jesus. More churches will lose the moat dragon mentality, lower the drawbridge and dispatch members beyond the church service to church SERVICE, applying their faith in the community through volunteerism and outreach. A renewed global emphasis on prayer - especially for peace and reconciliation - as individuals and leaders recognize that personal spiritual peace in one's heart provides the only lasting foundation for physical peace among families, friends, neighbors - even nations
–A. Larry Ross, Christian communications executive representing clients like Billy Graham and Rick Warren

12. Hindu Americans will continue to become better advocates for themselves, particularly in the public policy arena. They will play a larger role in defining the manner in which Hinduism is represented in the media, academia, popular culture, and interfaith dialogue. The acknowledgment of the Hindu roots of yoga will continue to spread with more people seeing the connection. And the Hindu ethos of religious pluralism will take on a more prominent role in nurturing not only tolerance, but respect for and between the world's religions.
–Sheetal Shah, senior director of the Hindu American Foundation

13. In 2012 the lines between the sacred and the profane will get even more blurry: Scientists will religiously maintain their search for the elusive God particle (they won't find it); evangelical sports superhero and Denver Bronco quarterback Tim Tebow will continue to be both an inspiration to the faithful and an object of scorn to skeptics (he will be watching, not playing in, the Super Bowl); at least one well-known religious leader or leading religious politician will be brought down by a sex scandal (let's hope all our leaders have learned a lesson from former Rep. Anthony Weiner and stay away from sexting); and the "nones" - those who don't identify with one religion - will grow even more numerous and find religious meanings in unexpected places (what TV show will become this season's "Lost"?)
–Gary M. Laderman, chairman of Emory University’s religion department and  director of  Religion Dispatches

14. America’s evangelical community will have its hands full addressing both a presidential election and offering a biblical response to “end of days” Mayan prophecies surrounding 2012. With the economy emerging as the primary issue for the November election, America’s born-again community will have an opportunity to contextualize an alternative narrative to the polarizing elements from both the right and the left by reconciling the righteousness message of Billy Graham with the justice platform of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. By offering compassionate, truth-filled solutions and focusing on the message of grace, love, reconciliation and healing, evangelicals will demonstrate that the greatest agenda stems neither from the donkey nor the elephant but rather from the lamb.
- Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

15. We are seeing the divide between younger generation evangelicals and older generation (baby boom and older) get wider every year both theologically and culturally (lifestyle). 2012 promises to widen the gap even more with Gen X and younger evangelicals having trouble understanding why the traditional lines make sense and/or just outright rejecting those lines.
–Mark Tauber, publisher at HarperOne

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Christianity • Hinduism • Islam

soundoff (2,166 Responses)
  1. tony

    The combination of mega-corporations ability to secretly remotely turn on your cell phone's camera and microphoneo, plus issue soporific drug gases, on command, will mean that there will finally be a real god in the US. Just not the loving one we expected.

    January 1, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
  2. IceT

    Atheism ... the silent vast majority.
    Most of the "religious" among us don't actually believe, they're just afraid to admit it .. even to themselves.

    January 1, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Veritas

      I think, or at least hope, that you are correct. I too think that when pressed on specifics, most Americans do not actually believe in the biblical nonsense, but pretend to do so for social reasons.

      January 1, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
  3. Ed Sr of Dallas Tx

    I predict that no predictions will come to pass!

    January 1, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  4. dan

    The idea of the end of the age in 2012 may turn out to be right. Jesus predicted an end to this age but could not say when.
    ALL the things he said would happen just before the end have and are happening. What Jesus said will happen will happen.
    The stock market is poised to crash. World economies will crash. Governments will not only default they will cease to exist. That has already begun. Religions of this world will fight for control and will split apart. People who think they are believers will learn they are not. If they have time science will find the God particle. The sooner these things happen the better and it all may start in 2012.

    January 1, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • Anita Bleujob

      Jesus never existed, bub.

      January 1, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  5. Georgia

    All religion is silly and it is a shame that what was once a reputable news source (CNN) has become such a joke as to even have a "belief" section.

    January 1, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • Anita Bleujob

      Wait ... it was reputable once? When was that?

      January 1, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  6. SS

    First sentence of the paragraph needs correction. "The Republican party will tap on Ron Paul as its presidential nominee" not Mitt Romney...

    January 1, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  7. Veritas

    To all you frightened religious people, being dead is not scary. Just accept that there is no "afterlife" and that everything will be just the same as before you were born. Religion was born out of people's fear of dying and has since then been used as a tool to control people. Did you know, for instance, that King James ordered his translation of the bible to have more elements of authoritarianism and submission to the clergy and king?

    January 1, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • AK

      "Just accept that there is no "afterlife"

      You sure about that? How do you know? I don't know. I know what I believe, but i don't know.

      Good luck to both of us in what we believe – or don't.

      January 1, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • Veritas

      Look, we cannot prove the non-existence of anything, not matter how crazy and outrageous. But if you realize what we are, evolved cellular organisms, it becomes obvious that some "magical after-life" in another dimension, or whatever, is as unlikely as anything can be. Reason and logic, my dear friend.

      January 1, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  8. heavyhorse

    Paganism in all its forms will continue to rise in numbers and openness, remember "there was a time when He was not and the Mother was all around"

    January 1, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  9. eyeson

    Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

    January 1, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Answer

      Bull.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • Jhn H

      if only you had a clue what that means. It's not what you think, and you're on the wrong side. Jesus is not where you're looking for him.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • Answer

      Tell us where this delusional character is.. I bet your secret handshakes and pretty costumes can lead you to finding it.

      Good luck.

      January 1, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  10. Joshy

    This article sucks. Theres nothing on CNN about obama signing the ndaa either. CNN is just a place for fake news now.

    January 1, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • Simon

      Laying the blame for the NDAA on Obama is incorrect. The Democratic Senators who aligned with the GOP are responsible, it was a veto-proof bill.

      January 1, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  11. Sam Houston

    These people are experts in religion from whose point of view? Certainly not from the Bible's point of view.

    January 1, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • WilltheFree

      And what makes the bible any more authoritative than these people? Nothing. It was written by people just like them, except 2,000 years ago...

      January 1, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  12. Ho

    I have no predictions.
    I have obervations and evaluations. These I see for real and true.
    Few want to live in peace, most want to dominate. The ratio appears to stay the same; only the population grows and also, the dominating percentage grows. This is leading to a greater oportunity for massive devistation.
    We all know what history tells us: human kind is Selfish, Domineering, and a Very Jealous species , and we ignore the characteristics instead of putting forth a viable effort to correct them; for fear our neighbor will not and we will be dominated.
    Truth is, humankind does want peace but it has to come from our neighbor first and be a lasting peace before one yields to peace. History shows this has never happened in the millions of years humankind has been around.

    Bottom line? What is the reality of the truth.

    I see humankind will always war with one another wheather it is a fist-fight or a World War, reason being – humankind wants the other person to change first and under that, we will not change.
    We can not dominate our neighbor to be peaceful (World neighbor or otherwise) because then, we are not peaceful.

    January 1, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  13. kamana

    Truths are constants that have never had a beginning, will never have an end, go on forever in every direction, cannot be distorted or destroyed, can repeatedly be replicated or validated, and always results in equilibria as is demonstrated in mathematics, the Language of Truth.

    A close look at religion shows that religion has few, if any, truths. What they define as truth appears to be nothing but heresy, belief profoundly at odds with the obvious, the real, the demonstratable, the provable, the logical.

    January 1, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  14. Mr Chihuahua

    I predict the Pope's breath will continue to stink lol!

    January 1, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  15. Steven L. Bullington

    What most non believers don't know is that once you ask Jesus to come into your life and forgive you of your sins and he does. The gift you receive is worth more than any $$ figure. As a true christian we want some how to repay God for what he has given us. He says as a christian, anytime we defend his word or his love or his son and are rejected it is a blessing to us!
    So keep it coming.

    January 1, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • Answer

      So many other religions thought that theirs was right also. Funny.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • taint

      As a former christian who now realizes I was in a delusional cult, I wish for you enlightenment, and not of the ridiculous biblical kind.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • Veritas

      Yeah, yeah, we know that all those in the christian cult collect imaginary brownie points to be redeemed once they get their imagined "after life". Sad really, that adult people can be so childish.

      January 1, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • kamana

      In Jesus’s trial (for sedition) before Pontus Pilate he was asked if he advocated a rebellion against the roman government to which Jesus stood mute and refused to respond. He was than asked if he were the promised jewish messiah who would liberate the jews from their roman conquers to which Jesus again refused to respond. Finally, he was asked if had anything to say in his defense and Jesus did not. Whereas in most serious crimes the criminals head was simply decapitated, in the crime of sedition the punishment was crucifiction to insure that the victim would suffer a long, slow and painful death to discourage others from rebelling or advocating a rebellion..

      January 1, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  16. Charles Fulton

    May you all rot in that evil place!!!!!

    January 1, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • Junius Gallio

      Feel the love. *rolls eyes*

      January 1, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • Answer

      Everyone will rot. Everyone.

      Get used to that fact.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  17. Gavin Ford

    The secular humanist is the only person worth listening to.

    January 1, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • Junius Gallio

      As a secular humanist ... you're wrong. EVERYONE is worth listening to, because every human being is worthy of respect, even if I disagree with them.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • Gavin Ford

      You shouldn't have to respect absurdities. I sure as hell don't.

      January 1, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • Junius Gallio

      @Gavin: "You shouldn't have to respect absurdities. I sure as hell don't."

      I didn't say you had to respect the ideas. If you do not respect other _people_–even those who disagree with you–then you are exactly the same as the theists you condemn, and your ideas just as absurd.

      January 1, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  18. Jon Obert

    Faith and religion cannot prevail against human greed, love of violence, desire to dominate the weak, especially women and children and causing pain for the pleasure of it. Religion is used as a tool for those wishing to exploit their fellows by many in this world. To many religious people provide blind support to these monsters because of their religious fervor or because they hide behind their religion as they benefit from the dominance. Religion is not the problem or the cure. A cure is needed for the sickness in the human heart. Until then, nothing will change.

    January 1, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  19. blake

    Few predictions in this list of 15. If you look at who made each of the statements, they are simply outrgrowths of the hopes or fears of each author.

    January 1, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  20. rawdi

    Yes it was. The man was Jesus.(God in the flesh)

    January 1, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.