11 faith-based predictions for 2011
January 1st, 2011
06:00 AM ET

11 faith-based predictions for 2011

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

To open 2011, CNN's Belief Blog asked 10 religious leaders and experts - plus one secular humanist - to make a faith-based prediction about the year ahead.

Have a faithy prediction of your own? Share it in comments.

Here's what those in the know are predicting:

1. With the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" there will be a more concerted effort by the gay, lesbian,  bisexual and transgendered community for gay marriage, uniting conservative evangelicals, Roman Catholics, Muslims and Orthodox Jews in a much more civil but principled resistance. Respectful debate will produce more precise and pluralistic solutions.
-Dr. Joel C. Hunter, senior pastor of Northland, a Church Distributed, in Orlando, Florida

2. A new generation of Muslims will bust out of their culturally and politically isolated cocoons and passionately reclaim their voice and narratives; one that has been stolen, used, abused and hijacked by extremists, terrorists and fear-mongering propagandists. Watch out for a major cultural renaissance as a new generation of Muslim artists and storytellers grab the mic, enter the arena and speak their voice with a revived passion and purpose.
-Wajahat Ali, Muslim playwright and attorney

3. As anti-Christian violence accelerates in places like Iraq, Egypt and India, a government crackdown on Christian churches gathers steam in China, and European bureaucrats continue to drive Christianity from the public square, “Christianophobia” will become a buzzword.
-John Allen Jr., CNN's senior Vatican analyst

4. After years of increasingly contentious debates and billboard wars between religious believers and atheists, American secularists will begin to embrace a message of positive humanist community, gaining increasing acceptance as they organize cooperation between nontheists and theists toward the common good.
-Greg M. Epstein, humanist chaplain at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts

5. As religious tensions grow over the coming presidential election and domestic cultural issues involving perceived legislation of morality, the media will find more zealous Christians reacting to the issues of the day whose extreme positions will further divide the evangelical church into radical positions, and turn away seekers looking for a peaceful resolution to the churning in their own souls. In other words, the devil will play a trick on the church, and the church will, like sheep, lose their focus on the grace and love of Christ and wander astray. Those who seek peace, then, will turn to liberal ideologies.
-Don Miller, Christian author whose books include "Blue Like Jazz"

6. I foresee multiple instances of dialogue and cooperation between Muslim and Jewish houses of worship, with the initiative coming from the moderate Muslim community. They will avoid talking about the Middle East and concentrate on living as religious minorities in the United States.
–Rabbi Harold Kushner, author whose books include "When Bad Things Happen to Good People"

7. Mormons have delivered the vote for Republicans year after year, but the GOP would be wise to remember that Mormons don't actually belong to them. We noticed and will not forget Mike Huckabee's viciously anti-Mormon mockery of Mitt Romney during the 2008 campaign. If Huckabee is the Republican nominee for president, look for substantial numbers of Mormons to defect or abstain. Mormons are the key to Republican victory in many Western swing states; if Huckabee actually wants their votes, he'd better start mending fences now.
-Orson Scott Card, Mormon author whose books include "Pathfinder"

8. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will loudly and proudly denounce the anti-Muslim rhetoric of Republican presidential hopefuls, ensuring that religious pluralism will be a central issue in the 2012 presidential race and nudging President Obama and other leading Democrats to stand tall for one of America’s most cherished ideals.
–Eboo Patel, founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core

9. Religious conservatives and Tea Party activists will increasingly work together to keep pressure on the Republican Party to remain true to its fiscal and culturally conservative principles in the new session of Congress and the 2012 presidential nomination.
–Ralph Reed, founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition

10. More Wiccan ministers and other pagan leaders will be actively involved in interfaith organizations, conferences and initiatives in the United States and internationally. Interfaith endeavors will grow in importance in addressing ongoing needs in the world today as well as in responding to natural disasters and other tragedies.
-Rev. Selena Fox, senior minister of Circle Sanctuary, a Wiccan church near Barneveld, Wisconsin

11. Two-thousand-eleven will be, unfortunately, a continuation of great Islamophobic and uninformed attacks that will further alienate American Muslims and cause great distress in the rest of the Muslim world. However, I predict that the Park 51 will become less of an issue as more New Yorkers decide enough is enough and that they will not allow a few people with an Islamophobic agenda to dictate location of places of worship.
- Muna Abusulayman, secretary general of The Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation

CNN's Jessica Ravitz, John Blake, Maria Ebrahimji and Kelly Marshall Smoot contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Islam • Judaism • Leaders

soundoff (803 Responses)
  1. realistic

    ANY AND ALL organized religion is evil!

    January 1, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • LC B

      Even Jehovah Witnesses cult?

      January 1, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  2. cnninformed

    Not exactly religiously based but a prediction about the near future can be found here: http://distantlooks.blogspot.com/

    January 1, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  3. Zargothnot

    What is great about our world is you can take any position on a topic be ignorant and self righteous about that opinion and there is always someone who will agree with you.

    I also like when people complain about a site (Fox) but spend their "precious" time opining all day.

    January 1, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
  4. ramon2004

    The day we realize what we are, we will learn that there is no reason or motive to kill each other, that day Mother Nature will be happy and proud, of the burden she carries with her, that wonderful process called life.
    We are all light.
    In this life and the next one, Stay in the light.
    Sandoval Ramon Gonzalez.

    January 1, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
  5. Phil Newton

    I predict that humankind will continue to speak for and against God, and He will notice nothing–except our hearts.

    January 1, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • LC B

      "He"???? Why . . . "She" does the procreating . . . and the christ followers good book states – 'as above, so below' . . .

      January 1, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  6. Shadowalker

    Maybe as Americans we should Follow the teaching of Native Americans. RESPECT withOUT judgement. It is time for us to realize that Non-Native Americans have corrupted everything here as well as in their homelands. Question.... Why do Christians and Mulisms believe their way is the best way? Christians talk of forgiveness and love yet are the ones who do the most Harm.

    January 1, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • LC B

      'Tis truth you speak, oh wise one called 'shadow'!

      January 1, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  7. louky502

    after reading most of these comments, i have found that there is very little to no hope for the human race. so i say: COME LORD JESUS. everyone hear can hate me for saying that and i am fine with it. i am not angry or hateful to anyone of any religion for anything they say. christians have been told since the beginning that the world will hate us and also that one day everyone will be judged and that judgement is done by God.

    January 1, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • louky502

      meant to say "everyone here..." not "hear".

      January 1, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • KeithTexas

      The statement you used “we are told every one will hate us" is one of the same lines used by cults. It is used to excuse rude or anti social behavior. It is probably one of the best unifiers for a myopic society you could think up.

      If everyone hates you, it isn't them that have the problem. Those social behaviors that some organized religions use to isolate themselves from the world are responsible for the distrust and hatred. It has nothing to do with the truth that you seek.

      January 1, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  8. Muneef

    Keep your thoughts positive, 
    because your thoughts become your words. 

    Keep your words positive, 
    because your words become your actions. 

    Keep your actions positive, 
    because your actions become your habits. 

    Keep your habits positive, 
    because your habits become your lifestyle. 

    Keep your lifestyle positive, 
    because your lifestyle becomes your destiny 

    Thanks for the year 2010 with it's sore and happy moments and we welcome a new year 2011 which no one is aware what it contains for us other than God Allah whom I certify for being no other God than Him and I certify that Muhammed is his messenger and that he was sent as the messenger of mercy and in mercy to the worlds..God had created negativity by Satan and positivity through Messengers as evil and good were created for testing faith of man and confidence "Iman" then there is always in between both whom we call stray..while the evil is the cursed one..
    Now look at it this way Black & White has Gray in between!
    Nagative & Posative
    Evil & Good
    Dark & Light
    We have learnt from birds and animals many things of science? So haven't we asked our selves why night flying insects are attracted to the light? Or maybe should ask our selves why were ancient nations worshiped the Sun the Moon the Stars the fire?? They new they should be looking for light but have become stray time after time after every messenger they become stray from the Right Straight Path that was tought to Adam down to all Prophets and Messengers of God. We were told that God Allah has tought Adam all his names meaning the Knowldge and the Message for Mankind to live with on earth which only proves there was a spoken language and since teaching all that means there was writings then there might have been scriptures from such length of time changing hands father to son and hand to hand their are verses where God Allah mentioned teaching to Adam and to the prophets&messengers through people of knowldge and the holy spirit ..

    January 1, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  9. fastball

    Faith is not a disease....the INTOLERANCE that has accompanied different faiths throughout history and into today is the problem.
    Belief is all right...but the belief that YOUR belief is better, stronger, truer, and more right than the next guys is the problem.
    The hypocrisy that is today's faith is the problem. Mouthing the words "love thy neighbor" every Sunday in church, but hating him for the other six days because he's a different race or different faith or different orientation is the problem.
    Faith/religion is not the problem...people are.

    January 1, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • 1nd3p3nd3nt

      i agree

      January 1, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • Also a Believer 2

      Very well said Fastball. We as Christians often fail to live up to Christ's paradigm. I am often, daily I would admit, guilty of this. Where being a Christian comes in is when I see my failings and ask for God's grace and help to not continue to behave in such a manner. It doesn't happen overnight, but when I am sincere in my request to change then I do. I ask for his forgiveness for my behavior and then I work on replacing the motivating emotions behind the behavior (anger, impatience, self-hate, etc) with the knowledge of all that God has done for me through his Son. I am a continuing work in progress, and I am human. I will fail again today, I'm sure. As a loving parent who sees me struggle to please him he loves me anyway – just as I still love my child when they do not behave as they should.

      I will say that believing that your faith is the right one is not a bad thing. If you don't feel that way then why bother? It's how we behave towards others when we feel that way. Faith should be based on knowledge. God wants us to KNOW him not just believe in him, and he has left us plenty of information to do that. The more that I get to know him, and as a result love him, the more that I am sure that Christianity is the only way. Do I beat other people over the head with that? No, that will never bring anyone to God. I study other faiths as well, but that just undergirds the strength of Christianity. I am sure that it is the only way and I will lovingly tell someone why I have come to that conclusion if they are seeking answers. The love, grace, and sacrifice of God illustrated through his Son is not something that I want to keep to myself as that would be selfish. If you do not want to know about it that's fine, but I can still offer. Again, it's not Christ who fails, but it's the behavior of those who follow him. Thinking that your faith is the correct one is not bad – it's what you do with that viewpoint that can cause problems.

      January 2, 2011 at 7:33 am |
  10. Bruce

    That #11 is interesting. If he really wants to stop the movement of "Islamophobia," something must be done about what is really causing it. I noticed that no Christians drove car bombs into a Muslim new year's eve service in Egypt.

    January 1, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
  11. Fish

    I predict you can't predict....

    January 1, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  12. HotAirAce

    I was disappointed by this article! I was hoping for something like:

    1. Bishop Long confesses that he ab-used young men and reveals that he has never actually believed in god – it was all just to make money and get closer to his victims.

    2. Pope-a-dope confesses that he ab-used young men and reveals that he has never actually believed in god – it was all just to make money and get closer to his victims.

    3. God, along with Zeus, Apollo and Thor, will make an appearance in New York in Central Park on July 1. Admission will be $100 with all proceeds going to the Retired Gods Foundation. No one shows up.

    4. Jesus and Mohamed appear together at an interdenominational meeting intended to reconcile Christianity and Islam, but they get into a fistfight. Atheists jump in to restore order.


    7. Following the lead of the Dallas-Fort Worth Transportation Authority, all faith-based charities will lose their tax-free status effective immediately.

    8. Sarah Palin decides to endorse the Richard Dawkins Foundation (richarddawkins.net). Her endorsement is rejected on the grounds that there is no way she can make an informed decision, even with every fact in front of her, and her poor track record of endorsing losers such as Christine O, Sharon A and the Tea Bagger entry for Senator from Alaska.

    9. (In)Famous CNN Belief Bloggers (say one from each major faith?) confess that they have renounced all religious beliefs and that they have been closet atheists for years. They say they are coming out because they could not longer utter or write the drivel necessary to defend their imaginary friends and fictional books.

    10. The Virgin Mary appears and gives her version of The Immaculate Conception. S3xual misconduct charges are laid against several men in the bible, but they are nowhere to be found. The RCC issues a statement saying "Hey – it's just fiction!"

    11. Harry Potter is elected as the new pope-a-dope (replacing the one sitting in jail for harbouring criminals), despite numerous statements by JKR saying "Hey – it's just fiction!" The cardinals instead choose to believe that Harry P has decided to ascend to heaven earlier than expected, but will probably be putting in an appearance soon – sometime in the next 1, ummm, 10, ummm 100, OK, 1000 years.

    The predictions in the article are not really "faith based" – they are more about the politics of dealing with faith, and I suspect the prognosticators are merely trying to get their agendas on the table for the next USA election cycle.

    In closing, here's my sincere prediction – the USA will continue to decline because the majority of its citizens continue to cling to religion, while the rest of the world continues to develop faster than the USA because they do not have, or more rapidly shed, the baggage of invisible, manmade, imaginary supernatural beings, many of whom are not all that friendly.


    PS: If you are offended because I seem to have targeted your faith or because I have left out one of your compet-itors, I do apologize and assure you that I am an “equal opportunity atheist” – I hate ‘em (religions) all. And before someone gets twitchy about me using the harsh word “hate” – think in terms of “hate the sin, love the sinner.”

    Happy New Year To All!

    January 1, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • KeithTexas

      I am not offended, I am sorry that you are angry at, and hurt by religion. You are not funny though.

      January 1, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  13. white anglo-saxon pagan

    i predict a rise in the number of jerks, both religious and non. my evidence? this comments section.

    January 1, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  14. bobbomatic

    After reading all the above comments from both sides of the aisle, please permit Uncle Bob a theological question:

    Before you can get to the afterlife, don't you first have to have ...you know... a LIFE?

    January 1, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  15. Christ follower

    I could not agree more 1nd3p3nd3nt that genuine believers in Christ should live as He lived and love as He loved. I am saddened that apparently you and so many others see a "segment" of Christianity and then jettison the whole message. To use a well-worn cliche, "you throw the baby out with the bathwater". Please don't reject Jesus or HIs gospel message of love and grace and reconciliation with God through His sacrifice because "people" get it wrong.

    January 1, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • Easterbunnyclause

      In other words, Jesus was a good person...be a good person

      January 1, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • 1nd3p3nd3nt

      i won't follower. There are a lot of wonderful good things about jesus and christianity. I've even met people that needed the guidance and structure christianity and other organized religions bring, a value that is often overlooked i think. So even with all the bad one could argue organized religions may do, there is still the positive. I am not against christianity and especially not jesus.

      But i am against not thinking and not asking why.
      I appreciate the comment, and I wish you well, spread what good you can and I will attempt to do the same. We are all on the same team, is how i look at it, whether we like it or not sometimes : )

      January 1, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • KeithTexas

      Churches and their followers are his "Jesus" representatives on earth. How else are we, those of us not in your church, to judge your beliefs if not by your actions?

      January 1, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  16. AthensGuy

    I also predict nobodye will have the guts to tax religious organizations

    January 1, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • KeithTexas

      I predict that you are right about that and it is just sad that Thieves and Scoundrels use politics and religion to commit their outrages.

      January 1, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  17. AthensGuy

    I predict many people will continue to forgo their right to think and ill continue to believe in the abracadabra imagined by goat herders 6,000 years ago, and we will continue to have all the radicalization and undue religious interference in politics...

    January 1, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  18. Gary

    As an agnostic I predict fundies will continue to ignore common sense,science and even the ability to use their own brain. Earth is billions of years old. Proof is in the erosion escarpments,plate techtonics,Pangia puzzle,mid oceanic ridges, animal fossils,fossil fuels and so much more. 2011 will bring lower or @ least no new taxes.

    January 1, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  19. MAria Ashot

    A year from now, we shall remember 2011 as a year in which important strides were made by members of the Authentic Christian denominations (i.e., the ones who have retained the Apostolic Succession) towards restoring the unity of the Church mandated by Christ at the Last Supper, and overcoming the unfortunate schisms that fractured Christendom. Interestingly, continued unhinged attacks and attempted attacks by jihadist extremists, together with overheated rhetoric from their apologists, will cause further rapprochement between non-Muslim religions, notably Christians and people of Jewish heritage and/or faith. And all these important developments will take place within the context of accelerating climate quality decline, that in and of itself shall drive sensible people to seek greater cooperation. Suddenly, many more of us will discover that what we thought of as serious rifts were largely rooted in minor misunderstandings... Meanwhile, committed moderate Muslims shall continue to struggle to find a way to contain the excessive zeal of their misguided sons and daughters.

    January 1, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  20. Zargoth

    May all religions fade away & make room for individual spirituality, advancing the cause of the maturation of the species.....

    January 1, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Gary


      January 1, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • 1nd3p3nd3nt

      sadly, the term "individual spirituality" is becoming more and more "believe whatever I want to."
      it's as dangerous, if not more dangerous, than organized religion. We can barely think for ourselves, yet alone reach spiritual enlightenment on our own.

      I hope it happens, but I doubt it will. It's going to be a struggle, all uphill, like most things in life. But worth doing.

      January 1, 2011 at 12:48 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.