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. Logic

    I look forward to the outright slaughter of religions upon each other. The more they fight and kill off each other the better.

    I wonder how many of them will die off this coming year? Oh, a side note for your religious banterers/supporters.. go off and fight too. Don't waste time with these debates, just go out and start slaughtering. I approve of it.

    January 1, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
  2. Jigger Jones

    As an athiest I sense unfathomable horrors for 2011, but it will cause the majority of the religious to finally say to themselves, "My God cannot possibly want this. This must stop."

    January 1, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • Raider

      You would be right except for one thing, religious people love suffering!

      January 1, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • TJ

      That is yet another biased and unedcuated statement about religious people. Religious people I know see suffering and pray that it ends or pray that God does some good through the short term "bad." There is no direct love of suffering. Suffering exists indeed, but to be so focused on that short term reality while taking your eyes off of eternity or a long term goal, is an immature or even childish assertion.

      January 1, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  3. TJ

    Simple undeniable fact: The 9/11 terrorist and many who have attempted to do harm by way of terror in this country are Muslim. That is a fact. If that creates some level of fear, why is that Islama-phobic?

    January 1, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  4. Wholly Mary

    FAITH?!? More like delusional!

    January 1, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
  5. coffeeandtea

    Religion is the problem. Period. End of discussion. End religion, and humanity will improve exponentially. The Catholics during the Inquisition I perceive as terrorists. The terrorists of today are motivated by religion. Wake up, people. Religion is the main problem. Stop praying and believing in Bronze-age Gods. Why not worship some or all of the Gods in the Greek Pantheon? When religious zealots start thinking that their God is the only God (and both Christians and Muslims do this frequently) we are then set up for constant clashes. It is because people have blind faith in 2,000 year old myths, and it is because people do not accept science, and it is because religions claim exclusivity (my-god-is-better-than-your-god), that most of the problems exist in the world. Think about it, how long have religious fanatics (Yes – that includes the Conservative Religious Right as well as the Conservative Muslim) been at war? For a long, long, time unfortunately. It's time to wake up and step into the 21st Century. Pull your heads out of the Bronze age, and do some critical thinking. And to you who will want to save me with your ridiculous (forthcoming) replies about my salvation, how about you save yourself and open up a real science book or read a book on logic. Save yourself from yourself. Allow Humanity to flourish by deleting the religious viruses from your brains. Stop infecting cultures with the mythology that you believe to be something other than it really is. It is just a story, an old, old, old story that early peoples used to make sense of their world. If there is an all powerful God, why does It allow so many innocent people to die each day? Stop your perverse thinking. Step into the 21st Century.

    January 1, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
    • penny

      It is the heigth of arrogance to even question why God does anything. His ways are not our ways and we cannot possibly understand His reasoning. Faith is about belief in something unprovable. Thats the definition. Why do non-believers insist on wanting to re-define that word. Bad things happen to good people. Why does that make you question God? He never promised it would be easy, in fact he explicitly told us that we would be hated and persecuted for believing in Him. And here we are.....I guess He was right.

      January 1, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
    • Reverend Strategy Pony

      @coffee: agreed.
      @penny: How come is it always that when something good happens, "God did it!" Or when something bad happens, "the Devil did it?" Similarly, when a contradiction is exposed in religious dogma, believers always say "oh God works in mysterious ways" or "we puny humans don't understand the ways of God" as way to "reason" away dissonance.

      January 2, 2011 at 9:25 am |
  6. TJ

    It would be so refreshing if people did not think in such absolutes. Fox has GOP signs for example? TREX, is there any truth in what you are saying at all? There are opnion shows that slant toward the GOP indeed, but do the news programs really slant that way?

    January 1, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  7. TJ

    This is funny. In the interest of being politically correct, the author polled many different people. Yet, only one truth remains. Time on this earth and eternity will make that truth evident. I hope and pray that the author and the readers here are able to find that truth.

    January 1, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
  8. tdw

    All people have beliefs that they don't understand, including atheists – it's called faith

    If you have faith in nothing, then you live a sad life (and I'm not just talking about faith in God)

    January 1, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • JT

      Incorrect. Faith = belief without evidence. Also, don't confuse believing in something verses accepting fact supporting evidence. Your belief in absurdities and the supernatural causes you to view the entire world in this flawed way.

      January 1, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
  9. mike

    gotta love it, when a christian or muslim says a non-believer will got to hell or be separated from god, or will suffer for their lack of belief in this life, then it is the teachings of their religion, but when an atheist looks forward to the day when theism dies from lack of adherents they are awful bigoted people.

    January 1, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • Muneef

      Al-Mumenoon sura23:
      In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
      And verily this Brotherhood of yours is a single Brotherhood and I am your Lord and Cherisher: therefore fear Me (and no other). (52) But people have cut off their affair (of unity), between them, into sects: each party rejoices in that which is with itself. (53) But leave them in their confused ignorance for a time. (54) Do they think that because We have granted them abundance of wealth and sons (55) We would hasten them on in every good? Nay they do not understand. (56).

      January 1, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  10. Parfffie


    It boggles my mind that people think there will be any changes in 2011 when things like this are happening today.
    Talk is big. Let's hope people/groups take real action to making tolerance high enough to stop religious based deaths.

    January 1, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
  11. Scott

    "Christophobia" LOL!! More like "Disgustophobia".

    January 1, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  12. trex

    I forsee all tea party activists converting to paganism, and blowing themselves up with palin gasoline.

    January 1, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
  13. jesus - ish!

    Its kind of odd, how dim witted humans are...religious beliefs are so disappointing

    January 1, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
  14. FRAJ

    "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." Wait a minute. "Places of worship?" I thought the whole argument was that Park 51 was a community center, *not* a place of worship.

    January 1, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
  15. Dan

    I predict that people will continue to fight and think that everything that comes out of their own mouth is correct.

    January 1, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
  16. Rich

    Yesterday, I saw a 17 year old who is a "missionary" with a Christian missionary group post on Facebook that people who believe in climate change should be punched in the face for being so stupid as to believe in it. If you want a prediction of things to come, look at the values being instilled in our youth. Especially on a social networking site when Christians choose to not counsel or correct this young man for his words.

    January 1, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
  17. Rich

    I predict that religion will continue to ruin the lives of people all over the world, as it has since its inception.

    January 1, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • trex

      It's not the religion that makes things worse, it's the demigogs that parade around LIKE gods and convince the weak of mind and soul to do their evil bidding.

      January 1, 2011 at 4:20 pm |

    trade will replace money as the statement "your money is no good here really means something "

    January 1, 2011 at 3:43 pm |

    trade will replace money

    January 1, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
  20. phil

    I have saw a couple of posts here that are relevant, but others, not so relevant. Remember, Christ warned you about casting your pearls before the swine. They did just what Christ said they would. MERRY CHRISTMAS, and MAY YOUR NEW YEAR BRING YOU HAPPINESS IN "CHRIST" and MAY ALL NON BELIEVERS HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAN AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR TOO.

    January 1, 2011 at 3:41 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.