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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. accord1

    In the year of 2012 "the coloring of America"i.e. the "Re-coloring of America"; will come more to the front and center of politics, religion and in out society at large. http://www.accord1.wordpress.com

    January 1, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • Solitairedog

      going to strange websites can contract viruses. I personally never do it. I think a recoloring is in order. How about green?

      January 1, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
  2. Atheist #1

    Atheist will Rule 2012!

    January 1, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • ddblah

      Isn't this happening in a few countries already?

      January 1, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
    • Atheist #1

      The Liberals Are Always Right (Just Give Us Time)

      January 1, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • ddblah

      #1: you are probably right too, I think, though you may not be a liberal.

      January 1, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
  3. Junius Gallio

    @ddblah: "That's a waste of energy."

    Yeah, but it's better than all that formaldehyde in the environment.

    Actually, my wife has teased me for years that she was going to give me a $20 funeral: call a cab, hand the guy a $20 bill, and say "He's drunk, so drive him around town and dump him when the money runs out." Problem is, $20 won't get you as far as it used to. 😉

    January 1, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • ddblah

      Man, that would a total waste of energy ;).

      The most eco-friendly funeral would be sea-burial.

      But just in case some of my kids/grandkids want to find out why they are so dumb, I could have a chance to be cleared if my body is buried in ground.

      January 1, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
  4. Bobby Dole

    I am actually shocked at what a really good article this is. While some of the points are not going to happen, a lot of the "predictions" are definitely things that make you think. Further questioning of the need for faith is a definite theme, and something that will probably become a more prominent ideal in 2012.

    January 1, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
  5. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    I predict that Mark from Middle of Nowhere will continue to post inanity without end. I predict he'll never figure out how to use "you're" and "your", just like the rest of the religious dimwits. I predict he'll continue to beat his puny chest and imagine himself to be an intellectual giant who makes real inroads for his silly cause. I predict that no one who has a brain will be fooled by his simple-minded drivel.

    January 1, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • Lear King

      Mark isn't quite that stupid, but I know how you feel.
      He apparently thinks everything can be "filtered" through his simplistic and clearly skewed view of "how things work", and plainly sees himself as being some "great centrist" who is nevertheless extremely right-wing (fascist), black, and a southern Christian.
      When he speaks he likes to insinuate everyone but him is a fascist, yet he is a card-carrying Republican who seems to think being a Republican is something every black American needs to get behind, yet he calls everyone else but him a fascist and likes to tell people they are five minutes away from turning into Hitler and committing genocide – but a Republican like him would never be a right-wing theocratic fascist like Hitler...oh no...never....*cough*
      No, he is just intelligent enough to put on a show when needed, but stupid to think he is getting away with his big lies and too dumb to see how transparent he is....or so it would appear.
      His usual response is predictable. For this post of mine, expect the troll response looking to evoke a reaction along the usual lines. "Oh did I get under your skin?" or "You see, kid, etc." or maybe a snotty youtube video response.
      And he's too lazy to figure out stuff. Can't be bothered to answer hard questions. Cuts and runs. Usual Christian crap.
      Seen it before. There's always someone running around with shoulder-chip sunglasses on the internet.
      Maybe when he gets his fat ass a piece it'll clear his mind. Virgins like Mark are so ....,,,,,.....you know?

      January 1, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • Teh Orbs of Seeing

      I see you've encountered our special needs troll named Mark from Middle River.

      January 2, 2012 at 12:01 am |
  6. JACK U

    HAS THAT PIX BEEN PHOTOSHOPED?

    January 1, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • Junius Gallio

      Has that keyboard been capslocked?

      January 1, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
  7. Barefoot Freddie

    Opinions may vary on this subject, friends...But opinions do not change facts–

    There are no American patriots greater than the founding fathers. The Treaty with Tripoli stands as a testament to those founders.

    George Washington supported it, but by the time it was passed, John Adams was the President. It was read aloud in its entirety and passed by both houses of congress on June 7, 1797. The vote in both houses was unanimous. President Adams signed it into law. Here is the complete text of Article 11, with its original spelling.

    "As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."

    In other words, according to a unanimous agreement of America's founding fathers, the USA is NOT and was never intended to be a Christian nation....

    January 1, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • ddblah

      Gee, they could have been crucified had they said these today.

      January 1, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • Jim C.

      Wise men indeed.

      January 1, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
  8. BNB42

    "If God exists, I hope he has a good excuse." Woody Allen

    January 1, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
  9. Rock

    Religion is not the problem it is man who corrupts the message of religion to the own gain look at the crusades,al qaeda, and cults

    January 1, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • Jim C.

      If all religions are true then maybe men could have misinterpreted them all. However, if only one is true then men made up the rest of them and are interpreting them in a way that benefits them personally, and the followers of the true religion are misapplying it. If all are man-made...

      January 1, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • Michael

      If men are the problem why doesn't your God just come and clarify it to give everyone a fair shake. Just too busy eh? Or insert another excuse here.

      January 1, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
  10. marc

    Religious=mentally challenged. Evangelical=retarded

    January 1, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
  11. DocD

    This had to be the STUPIDEST thing CNN.COM has ever published. What a bunch of drivel!

    January 1, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • end2game

      @phil
      I'm sorry for your loss.....

      January 1, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • Phil

      @end2game

      Thank you.

      January 1, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
  12. james

    To all that want to quote kill God. How can you kill the creator. Not possible. Voltaire tried he died and now is lost forever. Jesus is real and saves. I hope one day you realize this and accept Christ.....

    January 1, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • Voltaire Saves!

      God can't be killed because "he" doesn't exist.

      January 1, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • Zeus

      Yes I do!

      January 1, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • Phil

      lol - jesus is real.

      No proof exists that he ever existed and performed miracles. Thousands of years has gone by with no evidence or visit again.

      It will never happen. Your god is a troll.

      January 1, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • Michael

      Voltaire lived int the 1600s and 1700s.....not only did he die, but everyone born in that time frame is dead as well, so what is your point? You are correct though, no one can kill something fictional.

      January 1, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • ddblah

      You meant "Jesus was real" or "Jesus is real"?

      I'd agree that there was a person named Jesus who was the founder of the Christian faith that contributed enormously to the humanity and that whose followers, including yourself, committed both positively and negatively to the advancement of human society in his name.

      Other than that, if you believe he IS real, you'd have to show us or you are really delusional.

      January 1, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • ashrakay

      hm... maybe we can trap him? or... if that fails, maybe we can just ignore him.

      January 1, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
    • Solitairedog

      I have hope for you too, James. I hope you will realize that belief is not something you can brow-beat into anybody. I hope that you will find relief from the fella in your head that judges your every thought and action by rules made two thousand years ago. I hope you will finally understand the concept of freedom.

      January 1, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
  13. end2game

    I am here with you now, not the same gentle lamb from the past.... Do not be fooled by the Light that shines in my eyes...
    But the Shine of the light of the Sword!!!

    January 1, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
    • Phil

      Let me take your coat. Would you like a beer?

      January 1, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • Don

      wow you have stupidity written all over you, let me help you ouot of your misery, here put your neck in this hangmans noose and we will cure you of that affliction.

      January 1, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
  14. Phil

    Those who "claim" I'm taking the bible out of context by posting the 10 contradictions on the previous page.

    Yeah, right. I'm taking it out of context. That's what all of you say when you find out that an atheist is quoting the bible. Like the crazy terrorists do when we quote their trash book too.

    I bet you also say "I must not be worthy" or "god is too busy" when your prayers don't get answered. But when the laws of probability work in your favor then "it's a miracle".

    January 1, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • ddblah

      I am not going to be too picky on a book of stories passed on verbally from generation to generations. It was a monumental achievement to have a book that was remotely coherent. We atheists have our own inconsistencies.

      What made me really upset is that the believers use their believes to challenge scientifically verified conclusions.

      January 1, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
  15. fastball

    Seriously....worry about the economy. Worry about the global situation. Worry about climate change and what you can do to make this world better for your kids.
    But, for the love of Pete, worry about what some yet-to-come-forth-and-be-counted, may-or-may-not-be, supernatural being has to say about anything.
    If there is a God – he/she/it lives inside of all of us....it's called a conscience. We all know deep down inside what's right and what's not right.

    January 1, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • fastball

      sorry...DON'T worry about what some "yet-to-come-forth-and-be-counted...."

      January 1, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
  16. David

    I think 2012 will mark a beginning with our younger generation. Who knows, maybe Catholics will accept the GLTB community and embrace their relationships they have. As of right now, the Catholic church basically accepts you as gay but they want you to abstinent the rest of your life. They love the sinner and hat the sin. This is why I left the Catholic church and many younger generation Catholics have left. I want to be part of a faith that is going to recognize me for who I am, love me for who I am and accept my partner for who he is...... One day they will wake up and hopefully it will be 2012!

    January 1, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • Reason & Logic

      The Catholic Church is all about strict adherence and not about reality. If it wasn't they would accept birth control as an alternative to abortion.

      January 1, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • Junius Gallio

      I hope so. I'm not terribly optimistic that it will be this year, but one day, I hope your prediction comes true.

      January 1, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • ddblah

      The word "conservative" means the said subject moves really slowly. But surely it moves.

      January 1, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
  17. M

    Why does it say IN GOD WE TRUST in U.S. money? Interested to know...

    January 1, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • ddblah

      Historically, a much greater portion was christians in US when the nation was found.

      January 1, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • ddblah

      You can also say because God gave us money. So, you pray to get more.

      January 1, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • Zeus

      Doesn't say which one.... there are hundreds

      And all are false except Zeus!

      January 1, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • Junius Gallio

      Because in 1864 (for coins) and in 1957 (for currency), they thought it would be a good idea. It was not the "official" motto of the United States until 1956.

      Because we live in a majority Christian culture.

      Because Congress thought it was a good idea.

      Because ... it's largely irrelevant. We are not a Christian nation: we are a secular nation with a majority Christian population, but ALL Americans are "real" Americans, whether they are theists or not.

      January 1, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • Phil

      In god we trust was added to coins in the late 1800's and added to paper money in the 1950's. One nation, under god - was added to the pledge in the 50's also.

      This nation was in fact, not founded with the belief in god.

      January 1, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • Junius Gallio

      @Zeus.

      Zeus, you philanderer! Hera is pretty peeved with you!

      January 1, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • Amy Black

      Interestingly the idea of 'in god we trust' and 'one nation under god' came from Socialists, in one case a Methodist minister.

      The reasoning behind 'one nation under god' was because we wanted to be different than the 'goddless' Soviets.

      January 1, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • Don

      Well first of all Amy, as anyone knows the Soviets never practiced true socialism or anything else except a dictatorship type of hegemony. To blame that failed style of government who could not even properly name themselves is as false as the claim that hesus really eisted. But then youo claim to be a minister of christianity so you are truly used to spreading lies, no wondwer you don't know any facts about anything.

      January 1, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • ashrakay

      Since "In God We Trust" is taken from the Qu'ran, (Quran 7: 89), I suppose we a nation under allah. I know a great site where you ladies can start getting fitted for your burqa.

      January 1, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • Jim C.

      Geez Don, the motto was added in the 50's in anti-Soviet religious fervor. I don't think she was commenting on the nature of Socialism or Soviet-style communism.

      January 1, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
  18. Junius Gallio

    @ Answer: "Everyone will rot. Everyone."

    Not me. Gonna be cremated. No muss, no fuss. 😉

    January 1, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • ddblah

      That's a waste of energy :).

      January 1, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • Reason & Logic

      You mean, no moss no floss.

      January 1, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • Phil

      @ ddblah

      So is taking up a lot of valuable space by storing a body underground.

      January 1, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • ddblah

      @Phil

      Well, easier to recycle a piece of land than a chunk of energy ;).

      January 1, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • Phil

      Also takes energy to do that. What do you think powers the equipment that digs the grave sites? Fuel...that's energy.

      January 1, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • ashrakay

      Soylent green is people!

      January 1, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • Jason the Pendleton Rat

      In the end, everyone will be cremated, as the sun turns into a red giant, the Earth will fry. We are all star dust. Cremation is just a bit quicker.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
    • Junius Gallio

      @Jason the Pendleton Rat

      Why wait? I want to avoid that last-minute rush.

      January 2, 2012 at 12:27 am |
  19. Reason & Logic

    Only numbers 2, 3, & 15 have a real chance of happening. The others are wishful thinking by clueless people.

    January 1, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
  20. reducing_ingnorance

    In response to #3, under islamic law, christians, jews, and people of other faiths are required to be protected by the Islamic government. Human rights are protected under Islamic law, and that includes freedom of religion. Back during the medieval age, christians and jews would escape from Europe and move into the Islamic empire in order to escape persecution from the Catholic Church. All it takes is a little research for people to know the truth about islam and not take their facts from sources that hide WHO they got their fictional information from.

    January 1, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • Junius Gallio

      Under Islamic law, that is indeed what is _supposed_ to happen. It does not always happen that way. Ask the Copts of Egypt about how "protected" they've been over the last few months.

      January 1, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
    • Reason & Logic

      My God! Islamic nations cannot even protect Sunni and Shiites from themselves how are they going to protect people of other religions?

      January 1, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • ddblah

      In the past, Islam did contribute positively to tolerance and christians did commit massive crime against humanity because of intolerance.

      Nowadays, this is no longer true. Christianity is indeed more tolerant than Islam, in comparison.

      January 1, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • Amy Black

      Islamic empires (in the time period you write about) also had equal rights for women until westerners came in, invaded and said 'no, you did it wrong'.

      January 1, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • Don

      Amy, here again you need to be corrected for your falsities. What you should have said was christian morons from western countries came in and said here you are doing this wrong, but then you have been spreading lies all your life if you are a minister so I understand why one more won't bother you.

      January 1, 2012 at 9:54 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.