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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. Answer

    @An inconvenient truth

    "If the screams and torment at the gates of hell can be reduced by one more voice it is worth every effort by the believer to try to help."

    Stupid religious people and their attempts to satisfy their own plight – look at how they want to insinuate towards their cause. Look at the implied reasoning for "gates" – what for? To keep dead people from going to hell from going in?

    Or to keep the tormenting people from escaping? Escape to where?

    You religious idiots need to employ reasoning. You are clearly utterly retarded. But if you say hell has gates then it must be right? *Purely comical from you lot!*

    January 1, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • An inconvenient truth

      It is a phrase long accepted that refers to the entrance of hell. The point is God is not willing that any should perish and we who are believers stand in agreement with God. I do not want to see any lost to hell but rather all come to salvation through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus the Christ.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Answer

      Sure sure.. just keep on thinking that. You want your happy thoughts.

      Go on keep on thinking it.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Rock0f@ges

      Atheists will always latch on to whatever flimsy excuse they can come up with at the spur of the moment to support their own desire to continue to be their own little emperor of their own little fragile life. Vanity is a tool satan uses often. And sadly, it works often. On the foolish minds of the weak, and proud. REPENT! Your time on this earth is short! Tomorrow is promised to NO ONE!

      January 1, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • nik

      Rock0f@ges, you're the religious person here. You have no room to charge others with believing something that has absolutely no evidence to support it. Additionally, you're not acting very christ-like with these comments.

      January 1, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  2. Eddie

    If the world doesn't end this year, I would like to sue. Would that be all right?

    January 1, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Junius Gallio

      I'll join that suit! "Class Action!" 😀

      January 1, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  3. Rick

    Funny how there isn't a single projection from a spokesperson for the Cathollic church.

    January 1, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  4. SurRy

    The only other countries I read about that focus this much on religion seem to be Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, etc. Industrialized nations are not preoccupied with fairy tales and sky fairies.

    January 1, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • nik

      Here here!! The greatest weakness our country has: religion. The most dangerous ideology to mankind: religion.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Veritas

      Sadly, the US is the only western nation that is this theocratic. Most other countries have moved on since the age of Enlightenment, were it not for a steady influx of uneducated muslims (Europe).

      January 1, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • Marge

      More wars and misery are caused by extreme religion that all things put together. Check the real history books.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • Hubs

      Playoffs Next Week!!!! Yoo Hoo!!!!!

      January 1, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Rock0f@ges

      The most dangerous ideology to mankind is the silly notion that we can all be our own little GODS, and do whatever we want to whomever we want to! See where that is getting us? Absolutely NOWHERE. Our own foolish folly is leading us all down the path to destruction. SIN is something we can't avoid, and always carries a price we are not willing to pay. JESUS paid the price for us. All we need to do is accept His gift of salvation and everlasting life. REPENT FOOLS! Your END is coming sooner than you think!

      January 1, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • Answer

      You religious freaks can go repent and sit and wait til your happy delusions catch up with you.

      The rest of society will just do fine with living a happy life.

      January 1, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • Rock0f@ges

      Marge:
      It is not "religion" itself that has caused problems throughout the ages, but man's own personal interpretation of religious ideas that he twists around to serve his own wicked purposes. The sinful MAN ( and satan ) uses religion as a means to do wicked in the world. The ONE TRUE GOD of the Holy Bible never intended for this. Satan has always twisted things of this world around to use against us. Too many of us are blind FOOLS to what is happening. We ignore the Bible, and we fall into the traps of this world, orchestrated by SIN and satan himself! BE foolish no more! REPENT! Read the Bible. Get your heart right with JESUS before it is too late for YOU!

      January 1, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • nik

      Rock0f@ges, religion is man-made. Prove otherwise.

      January 1, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  5. eyeson

    49ers won!

    January 1, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • RusTnuts

      You mean the 69 er's? They are from the catholic league right?

      January 1, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  6. us1776

    Religion will continue to decline at an even faster pace in 2012....

    .

    January 1, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Rock0f@ges

      Religion will continue to decline, chaos and depravity will continue to rise. Until JESUS returns! Then suddenly, all the non-believers of the world will feel really stupid. REPENT FOOLS! Before it is too late for YOU!

      January 1, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Answer

      Threats and fear.

      That is how religions operate.

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

      You'd think that a god of love, Jesus, wouldn't wait until later to save this dying world. I guess he doesn't love us very much, does he.

      January 1, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
  7. peter out

    I predict that Sunday will come before Monday every single week in 2012. Hold on to your pants people. It's going to be crazy.

    January 1, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • Timmy never really read the Bible

      Hail Messiah !

      January 1, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  8. Mike Rotchitches

    When did CNN decide to go all religion on us? There are a lot more salient story to cover. Get with it and stop pandering to the religious fanatics.

    January 1, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • Veritas

      Because they know that these religion wars are good for ratings and web site hits.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • peter out

      Religious subjects result in an emotional response by both believers and nonbelievers. This generates alot of attention to the CNN website. CNN is simply vying for web hits and ratings. It's all for $.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  9. SKyle

    If Christians started acting Christ-like, my generation might not be so skeptical. Problem is, we witness those professing to have faith as some of the biggest hypocrites influencing our lives. Shape up, Christians, or lose us to secular humanism...

    January 1, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Answer

      They don't want to, hence they are losing. It's so nice that they are.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Marge

      What I can't understand is, all these republicans in congress telling us day in and day out, God told us to do this, God told us to do that. From everything I have heard of the actions of God and Jesus they were supposed to be passionate caring, loving and compassionate. They cared for the needy and gave to the poor.

      What do the republicans in congress do. They have cut cut cut most of the social programs that support the poor. They continue to cut programs for the poor and the middle class. they want to get rid of social security a safety net for seniors. They want to cut medicare which is the lifeline of medicine for seniors. What is compassionate about that. While all the time they are falling all over themselves trying to provide more loopholes for corporations to rob the country blind with paying no taxes and also cutting what little bit of taxes the very rich pay. Anybody that does not see that these people are not the spawn of Satan and not disciples of God is lacking the very thing that made this country great.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Mike Rotchitches

      “The problem with writing about religion is that you run the risk of offending sincerely religious people, and then they come after you with machetes.” (Dave Berry)

      January 1, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • beachgalone

      agree. i feel that way about many "do gooders" as well. the celebrities that tout their politics all made their money here in the US under a capitalist system. They should not be allowed to vote or have any voice in our elections since the turn out does not affect them. They are ultra rich and can rise above any regime or disengage completely, including moving overseas.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Junius Gallio

      What was it George Michael said? "[God] can't come back, 'cause he has no children to come back for."

      January 1, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  10. Veritas

    Great movies to watch: "Jesus Camp" and "Religilous".

    January 1, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Mike Rotchitches

      Jesus Camp... sounds like a hoot. I'm putting it on my Netflix queue 🙂

      January 1, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  11. EatYouAlive

    I predict that believers will still believe than non believers will suffer torture and agony in the pit of hell.

    January 1, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Answer

      They'll still be gnashing their teeth on that to happen but it will never be.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • An inconvenient truth

      If the screams and torment at the gates of hell can be reduced by one more voice it is worth every effort by the believer to try to help.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Answer

      Why would hell need gates?

      Illogical.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Veritas

      @Answer: "Illogical"; well it's religion so logic doesn't apply, only blind faith in the impossible.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • Answer

      @Veritas

      Yea I know 🙂

      Their thought processes are completely and utterly retarded.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  12. dougaussie

    i predict the pope will die, there will be an earthquake in jerusalem, obama will be president in 2013, sarkozy will still be french president, iraq will have a short civil war and become another dictatorship, syria will go the way of libya, putin will still rule russia, california will have an earthquake, a queen will die, Imran khan will become president of pakistan whenever, US unemployment will go up and the stockmarket go down. Christianity in america will lose its way and become a harlot. thats it for me , i'm all predicted out. hey could happen. oh and we will be back here again in 2013 making predictions.

    January 1, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  13. Scientist - See: Rational Being

    America is a truly sad failing superpower. Brought to greatness and power by science and technology, but being undermined from within by religious groups trying to bring it back to the dark ages.
    Evolution is an observable fact, whether the natural common cold, flu, or artificial system like computer technology or cars.
    Religion requires blind faith in an imaginary universe and willful ignorance of the workings of the real universe.
    Religion teaches you that you are special, the center of the universe, and that Santa-God is looking out for you.
    Reality teaches you that your are special, but a small part of a much, much, much larger reality, that is goes literally beyond our comprehension.
    Relax America, your leaders will consult with the local Psychic/Numerologist/Priest/Shaman to decide social policy.

    January 1, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  14. GAW

    Yes 2012 will bring about renewed interest in eschatological (end times) thinking. Many Evangelical groups may modify their outlook on the future and adapt is to the so called Mayan prophesies. A host of books and DVDs will give end times fanatics more material to chew through and a way for authors to make more money. All in all such material and the expectation for the end is very much a form of entertainment. It's very emotional like waiting for the lotto numbers or the verdict for a high profile court case.

    January 1, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  15. Jesus

    These aren't "predictions" they are "this may occur due to the current state of things and likely probability guessing, but if it doesn't occur don't hold me responsible." This is what all religious prophets have done.

    January 1, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Phil

      Jesus,

      What are you doing on the computer? Aren't you supposed to be mowing my lawn?

      January 1, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Steven Hayworth

      Probability and Truth, may be one and the same thing, because Reality and Trust, aren't always the same thing, and you can Trust the Truth. And what I may be able to prove, using actual, honest-to-goodness mathematics, that have always held true, I can actually prove, using Algebra, not fancy-pants mathematics.

      January 2, 2012 at 3:06 am |
  16. JaxZen

    'augustghost' December 21 2012....first contact............ This statement makes sense. Aliens seeded this earth long ago and they are coming back for the Harvest..............

    January 1, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  17. Timmy never really read the Bible

    Timmy predicts that they will open a mountain in Antarctica which will contain a real prophesy, and real technology predicting a future event. A completely unexpected event. It will explain how to use stem cell technology, and make stumps grow, and cure evil 6 year olds of their Leukemias. Not one written in it's own language using only concepts and events which could have been seen as possible from the point of view of other fotune tellers in it's culture, and of it's own day. Billions of people will flock to the site, and worship.

    January 1, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  18. conoclast

    Instead of being born again
    why not just grow up?

    January 1, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Marge

      I have never heard such a truer or more mature statement. Hits the religious nuts right on the head.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  19. Matt

    I see comments like "Religion is good!" and comments like "Atheists should burn!"... Hmmm... You believers...

    January 1, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Veritas

      Not much different than those muslims protesting the Danish cartoons with slogans like "Kill all those that say that islam is a violent religion". All the "christians" I have met in my life have been egotistical materialistic bigots.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  20. Shabaz

    I never met a person of faith, of God, who did not believe in a bad message. What's in the message? What makes some uncomfortable, especially when the freedom exists to just ignore those who believe.

    January 1, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • pat carr

      You really need to be told? We cannot just "ignore" those who believe since they feel it's their right to shove their fairy tale belief down our throats.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Junius Gallio

      @pat carr: "We cannot just "ignore" those who believe since they feel it's their right to shove their fairy tale belief down our throats."

      I've rarely had theists attempt to shove their beliefs down my throat. Far more often, theists have offered, then (when I declined) went on with their lives, and I went on with mine.

      Perhaps the problem is not the shoving, but your anger that they dare believe differently than you? And if that is the case, why precisely do you think you're one iota more moral than they are?

      January 1, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      No, my anger at them is due to their insistence that their way is the only way and that our elected representatives should enact laws that reflect their beliefs rather than adhering to the principles of the Consti tution and its amendments. I'd be fine with others' beliefs if they'd stop imagining they have some God-given mission to make me obey their rules and give up my rights.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I don't care if I'm more "moral" or they are-morality is subjective. That is why we're a nation of laws.

      January 1, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Junius Gallio

      @Tom Tom

      You do realize that you are speaking of a minority of Americans, don't you? If your gloom-and-doom prediction were true, we'd already be an explicit theocracy.

      Are things problematic when religion controls the political sphere? Absolutely. Are we at that point? No–there are problem areas, and I have to admit I was worried for a while that Bachman or Perry (or someone similar) would win the Republican nomination (which would bring your proposed scenario somewhat closer), but it's not all a disaster. We are still a mostly-secular nation.

      There are areas I'd like to see changed.
      * I want DOMA repealed, and any distinctions between "gay marriage" and "straight marriage" eliminated from the law, but that's going to take a while.
      * I want atheists, Buddhists, Wiccans, Hindus, and others to _really_ have equal rights under the law, not simply the lip service we see too often. We are not a Christian nation–we are a multi-religious, multi-cultural nation with a Christian majority, and ALL segments of our population must be treated justly.

      I want these things to happen, and I am willing to work to achieve them. However, the "angry atheists" who foolishly believe that they can insult anyone who disagrees with them make these goals more difficult to achieve.

      January 1, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • Junius Gallio

      @Tom Tom: "No, my anger at them is due to their insistence that their way is the only way and that our elected representatives should enact laws that reflect their beliefs rather than adhering to the principles of the Consti tution and its amendments."

      "They." Every single one? Or do you regularly despise all for the actions of some?

      January 1, 2012 at 7:34 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.