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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. JaxZen

    BIG FOOT can't be caught....He is really GOD.. He is on the run because his ascension power has been Kaput for a very long time and he is stuck on planet Earth..................

    January 1, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  2. Belieber fever

    I predict beliebers will continue to say they don't beliebe in the Theory of Evolution, while continuing to go to their doctors, who prescribe them antibiotics, based cultures and sensitivities done in their labs, that prove that theory millions of times per day, (instead of praying), proving they really don't beliebe very much at all.

    January 1, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • augustghost

      Is your computer missing a "V" ??

      January 1, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Belieber fever

      Well, as you can see in "fever" I beliebe it is not.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  3. misgnomer

    The only truly faith-based prediction is that God knows what will happen and we do not.

    January 1, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Kirk

      No one knows what will happen...

      January 1, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  4. Mike

    CNN's cover story: Faith-based predictions. I do indeed remember when CNN reported factual news and events. Now we have horoscopes based on cults reported as "news". How sad.

    January 1, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  5. withoutgod

    I predict that theists of all sorts will continue to make excuses to try to explain why the world works the same way it would if there was no loving, all powerful, miracle working God who answers prayers.

    January 1, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  6. novoodoo

    I predict that this year Americans will take the thousands of victims of clergy abuse and the intentional cover ups by the catholic church seriously enough to hold the vatican accountable, Yes, instead of letting them get away with cheap, as usual, apologies hundreds of years later.

    Many children committed suicide and others mentally ill due to the abuses. What did the catholic church do to help them? Nothing, instead to lobby to stop laws that would expose the truth. Catholic politicians helping the catholic church to, again, destroy the already destroyed child

    Not a single catholic dioceses across the US is free from abusing children, they all did. What would we do if this were a day care center?
    Please everyone. Help the victims and their families. One mother I know, her son committed suicide. She lobbied to change laws only for a catholic politician to stop the law from reaching the floor for votes, denying her. That politician is friends with a catholic bishop who is a pe-d-0ph=ile. This woman cried to her death, as other moms did.

    All we need are Americans to stand up against this church and demand lawmakers change laws enabling these cases to come forward and to make those cases public. In the end, we will expose the truth. The truth is the greatest healer.

    January 1, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • Kirk

      I want them all HANGED in public... for their shame....

      January 1, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      novoodoo, tell me again what you've done? Oh, yes, post your babble on this site and never once jump in the waters of life to get anything done.

      Sit on those sidelines novoodoo and just speak up but ensure someone else fights the fight.

      Amen.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
    • novoodoo

      Writing here IS doing something, going to senators to change laws is doing something and helping to stop other children from abuse is doing something..

      And you judge me? I wonder what your agenda might be. Better yet, who you really are.

      January 2, 2012 at 11:37 am |
  7. rousch15

    1) Fundamentalist Republicans will prove themselves to be too bigoted to throw their support behind a Mormon.
    2) The world won't end.

    January 1, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • Answer

      Yep. Perhaps having their leader be a mormon will change these pathetic losers for the better.

      Let them taste the fruits of a challenging religion and see how pathetic their old religion was.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Jesus' truth has nothing to do with man made religion.

      Amen.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
  8. fdw

    I believe that liberals will continue their antisemitic rants and drive Jews to the right.

    January 1, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Kirk

      I thought you started that anti-semitic ranting?

      January 1, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  9. Shabaz

    Simply enjoy your own beliefs, and surround yourself with the like-minded, as well as those who disagree. However, if opposing viewpoints bother you to the point that it becomes a distraction from your own faith, or lack of faith, then you need to take another look at the reasons behind this agitation. If you feel the need to attack in any way those who believe in a higher power, then you must have questions about your own place. Hate is fear.

    January 1, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Kirk

      No fear here... we are too well established... most folks live in their worlds without much understanding of others views which in turn leads to misunderstandings. When one group tries to shove religion down others throats... or morality... or any kind of social behavior, one often resents and is offeneded by what I consider a life of lesser value or meaning. My WAy is always better than yours, because you do not have the depth of understanding that I and others have. So, I will remain as I am.. without any kind of interference in my beliefs... and I will do better things than those who talk so boldy, yet do nothing!

      January 1, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Shabaz

      If one needs to proclaim his or her way better than any other's, it does nothing to prove value to his or her lack of belief in anything bigger than he or she. You are free to feel this way. The people of faith who are true to God have no need to gripe about those with a self view like the one you seemingly possess. You can love yourself without God as you please. And if it bothers you that others love God, then you make the point many times over on why you may be confused.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  10. Nick

    So pretty much everyone with an opinion thinks that their opinion will go big in 2012. This is news.

    January 1, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  11. NorthVanCan

    Religion has been loosing ground to science for hundreds of years now, and so with information moving freely at the speed of light i suspect religious leaders around the world are feeling a little overwhelmed and desperate now.

    January 1, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • Answer

      Science – the real stuff will change our future! I am glad for the upcoming future.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Shabaz

      There are unsolved mysteries of science. Scientists would be out of work if we knew everything. People of faith are .allowed to embrace both science and religion.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Phil

      *now faster than the speed of light.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  12. Kirk

    Yellowstone will explode sending massive dust clouds into the atmosphere... blocking sunlight for years... and most of humanity is wiped out...

    January 1, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • truth will out

      Me and my friends prefer this outcome more than any

      January 1, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • JustJosh

      You forgot to add "because of all the gays!"

      January 1, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
  13. no fan of religion

    I look forward to seeing more atheists and agnostics coming out. Get up off your knees, you pitiful religious slaves. Think for yourselves! You don't need any "holy books" to tell you how to live if you are a thinking adult.

    January 1, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • Hamster12

      only on these boards. they are a small pitiful minority and will remain such.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Answer

      They will continue to be on their knees and beg. That is their tradition.

      I am fine with that. Let them be the beggars til they die off.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • Kirk

      Yeah.... get of your knees and roll up your sleeves.... I can't believe a sign I saw in another County which read... Pray for Recovery... as if praying will do any good in this economy....

      January 1, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  14. Phil

    @ Steven L. Bullington

    Highly unlikely. Here is why.

    The observable universe is approximately 13 or so billion light years wide. Our galaxy alone is 100,000 light years wide. There are billions and billions of galaxies, like ours, with billions of stars within. Each galaxy likely contains hundreds of millions of planets, many of which can support life.

    Why is our planet so important? It's not. It's just like millions of others out there. We do not have some privileged position in the universe and it's very unlikely that a god had anything to do with it.

    I believe in logic and reason, not fairytales and campfire stories.

    I was a Catholic for 20 years, you dope. I found flaws all over the bible and with the church. It took 10 years of being agnostic to make my mind up. I've been atheist for 8 years.

    January 1, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  15. Atheist

    My friends, what ought we do with the empty church buildings? I strongly oppose demolishing them, as many of them are architecturally beautiful and historical treasures of our communities.

    January 1, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Answer

      Why? I would fill the places up with beds and allot the homeless a place of permanent residence. Let the owners of the property pay all the taxes – that should fix the problem.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • Hamster12

      Yea, Hitler and his brown shirts already did the destruction thing. Didn't go so well for him.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Kirk

      Let's turn them into shelters for the homeless... or apartments for the elderly.. or homes for mentally ill.. That's what Jesus would have done...

      January 1, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Eric G

      Turn them into remote location science classes.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Belieber fever

      They're good places for rock concerts.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  16. conoclast

    Wake me up in 2013.

    January 1, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  17. imagine

    i predict obama will be removed from office with the approval of the democratic party for his disgrace failure to do the job he was elected for....

    January 1, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  18. Kirk

    No need for churches... they are an instrument of corruption, used for the benefits of those who lust for power. I can pray much better at home... God surrounds you.. no need for churches when God is all around you all the time...

    January 1, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Shabaz

      Yes you can. You have the right to refrain from churches, as do church-goers have their right to attend. Like any thing that numbers in the many thousands, there are always a few that are corrupt.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • prediction

      You're on you own. Your future is up to you. This is simply foolishness. The world is what we make of it.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  19. sally

    It is unfortunate that CNN chose to address the New Year with predictions from a religious perspective, thus attracting any number of religious bigots to attack anyone who believes differently than they do. I am so sick of people wearing their religion on their sleeve.

    January 1, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Hamster12

      Yea, I certainly have observed how kind and appropriate all of the atheists are.

      January 1, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Answer

      It happens ever year. It's not a surprise 🙂

      January 1, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Zanthros

      Sally, I could not agree with you more, but unfortunately a lot of religious nuts are like this. In their quest for righteousness, they often become self righteous, using their belief system as a weapon, to bash over the heads of others, rather than as a tool to improve their own lives and to become a living example of what true christians should be like or what truly compassionate humans should be like, it's very sad, that so many christians don't have a clue how to act like decent people, and that they are hypocrites and full of hate.

      January 1, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • Phil

      @ Hamster12

      I truly am a genuine, kind and loving person. Just because I don't believe in god doesn't make me a hateful person.

      I come unglued when people with faith start quoting fiction as if it were absolute fact.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • Hamster12

      Yea, us religious "nuts" don't have a clue how to communicate appropriately without calling names and resorting to grade school behavior.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Shabaz

      If this bothers you, you have more questions about your own faith, or perhaps lack thereof, than you think. Think.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Hamster: when the theists stop trying to force their ignorant beliefs down everyone else's throat, perhaps you'll see the kinder, gentler side of the previously oppressed thinkers, but as long as the pathetic promotion of "god" (which one, again? there have been so many) continues, pure contempt is the only response.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  20. JaxZen

    I wrote a book without any 'footnotes' and I will call it THE WORD..All shall believe my Word..LOL

    January 1, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Phil

      Put a few bulls__t stories in there - bury in your back yard with the hope that it will be found a couple thousand years from now.

      Chances are, it will be known as the Gospel of JaxZen and people will pray to you...

      January 1, 2012 at 5:02 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.