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. Phil

    Dear religious people,

    My brother shot himself in the head on 12/28/10. It was done right in front of my parents. My dad died 1/5/11 and my mom died 3/12/11. Ohhh..horrible. Whatever. We're beyond that and have moved on.

    I'm still an atheist. Even after all of that. I'm also comfortable knowing that there is no heaven, hell, god, jesus, the holy spirit – etc. That also means that I won't be seeing them in the so called afterlife.

    Guess what... I'm not bothered by that. This is the one and only (very short) life we have - I'm not going to throw away valuable time going to church and praying to something that, if you open your mind to reality and fact, you will discover doesn't exist.

    Atheists are not bad people. We also are not evil. We do not "hate god". I don't know where you get that last one from. Is it logical to hate something that we know does not exist? That's silly.

    Stop trying to prove us wrong by reciting what is widely known as fiction. We can't be saved because we don't ever want to return to magic tricks and fairytales.

    January 1, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • Answer

      The reason Phil.. is that the religious people are searching for a reason to hate us.

      To pin anything they can to an atheist to make us look bad to them. To spread lies on who to hate and why.
      Their purpose has always been to divide and tell people how to act and how to act against. With violence .. to ostracize.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • Phil

      I absolutely agree. Religion does divide. Before we became more civilized, millions were killed because they didn't convert.

      What do you get when you cross a mormon and an atheist?

      Someone who knocks on your door with nothing to say.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • Answer


      Hilarious! Thanks.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
  2. chug-a-chuga

    Wow 99% of the people in here are doing nothing but becoming and practicing what they detest. Self Righteous hatemongers. No ones forcing you to go to church so get off the high horse.

    January 1, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • tony

      I have to pass by 4 "in your face" church billboards on my short drive to work. Some even threaten.

      January 1, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
    • tootles

      Christians are doing everything they can to force people to go to church. You can't even go ask for food without being forced to attend church. In some southern state, they tried to make a law that forced people to go to church.
      So you see how big a liar you are? May you find honesty in a long painful death.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • Junius Gallio

      @Tony: "I have to pass by 4 "in your face" church billboards on my short drive to work. Some even threaten."

      Oh, cry me a river! Like a billboard hurts you?

      I'm strong enough to not only ignore the billboards, but even occasionally to find humor in them. Are you so weak that the billboards frighten you?

      January 1, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • chug-a-chuga

      So quick to judge I never said where I stand you just assume What I am and then wish me a long painful death. My point made thanks. Then you go and ask for food from a church then get offended when they ask you to go to church. And I would love to see the actual Bill from the southern state that forced you to go to church. You people are so in-spite of yourself its incredible go back to occupy wall street with the rest of the fell sorry for me Dumb Masses. Oh and last time I checked Buying a billboard and putting a message on it is called freedom of speech. Makes sense unless you dont believe in that either.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
  3. tony

    The BBC put science news predictions on their site. Wonder which set of predictions is going to be more helpful for 2012?

    January 1, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • chug-a-chuga

      The ones that give people hope

      January 1, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
  4. Cletus

    I predict an angry, hopeless, dejected atheist will jump off a bridge tonight!

    January 1, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • Answer

      That would be the unemployable religious nut without prospects.

      January 1, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
  5. Cletus

    I predict atheist will continue to flock to this site, like moths to flame, while we generally ignore their pathetic website, populated by the D&D crowd

    January 1, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • Answer

      D&D? Can we play?

      January 1, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • Junius Gallio

      @Answer: 3rd or 3.5 eds only–none of that 4th ed crap.


      January 1, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • tony

      There isn't any "their" for Atheists. Atheism is a natural human characteristic that children are born with and and keep, unless artificially changed. Like having brown hair for example. People who happen to have brown hair, or who are naturally sane, don't form groups to celebrate it.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
  6. Cletus

    I predict an overall growth of believers in 2012

    January 1, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • Answer

      May they all get annoyed at being liars like all the others. May they continue to spread fear and hate like they always do.

      January 1, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • Zargoth

      Wrong, just plain wrong, & we are all better for it.

      January 1, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • Statman

      You are already wrong. Non-believers are on the rise. Go suck on your Bible.

      January 1, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
  7. Cletus

    I'm a troll.

    January 1, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • Answer

      So am I, but who cares.

      It's just a fabulous insult routine. Let's dig into your fears and hate shall we?

      January 1, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • Eric

      ha! what a surprise.

      January 1, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • ashrakay

      Well, you answered my "Troll or just stupid?" question.... Thanks.

      January 1, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • Answer

      It's a fact everyone is a troll. Just whether you yourself will acknowledge the label.

      There is no need to not accept the troll label. It is a harmless label to just put insult to someone. I am not insulted by it.

      January 1, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
  8. Christian

    I always thought people were athiest because they wanted no rules or were just to arrogant to accept our supreme being. After reading these, I can see they are just afraid of God and people of faith.

    January 1, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • ashrakay

      God orders the murder of women and children. We should all be afraid of that as well as his followers if we are not morally depraved.

      January 1, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • Answer

      If you bothered to analyzed why you said afraid .. then it is clearly coming from yourself.

      Do try harder to pin the fear onto others though.. so far it's not working.

      January 1, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Why can't believers understand and accept that atheism is simply the belief that there are no gods (or that the probability of there bring any gods I'd virtually zero) Normal people are not afraid of what does not exist therefore atheists are not afraid of any god. We are concerned about believers trying to turn western democracies into theocracies.

      January 1, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • Joe

      I'm afraid of people of "faith" sure.

      January 1, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • chug-a-chuga

      @ Hot Air Ace:Our government was still built on christian foundation. I don't think Christians in general do to want to restart a inquisition but I think the way atheist generally like to attack believers and spew hateful slander in would make anyone nervous. If you could call Atheism a movement I think there is a large percentage of people who are acting out of anger due to a lack of personal accountability instead of a true belief in anything. I ones quest for wisdom leads them to the belief of nothing that's fine and I am sure there will be a time in their life that they implore someone to believe the way they do just as someone would invite you to church. Unfortunately it is to often that they attack everyone and are alienating themselves even more. If more people took the time to act with intelligence and respect just as you have done with your post there would probably be less of a issue in our society.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • chug-a-chuga

      That was supposed to say (do not want to restart a inquisition)

      January 1, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • ashrakay

      @chug-a-chuga, Do you have an example of "slander" that you're accusing atheists of? Or, is it common practice to present statements without evidence so much so that you find it acceptable to do so in this case?

      January 1, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • Nat Q

      I'm atheist because of the utter lack of any empirical evidence to support the claim of a god being. ANY god being, much less your specific one. Tens of thousands of years, literally BILLIONS of followers...and not one shred of actual, confirmable evidence.

      THAT is why I am an atheist.

      January 1, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      chug-a-chuga, you are apparently too stupid to understand a lack of belief in unproven supernatural beings does not equal a belief in nothing.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
  9. Answer

    If in my duties as an atheist that I can annoy the religious t-w-i-t-s that they show their hate unto myself then it is a well deserved duty and fun thing to do.

    January 1, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
  10. Cletus

    I predict Bob will continue to be a mindless idiot

    January 1, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • Bob


      You think I'm mindless? Really? I'll bet that my IQ is at least 25 points higher than yours. I have a Ph.D. in a hard science from an American insti-tute that you probably would not even meet admission requirements for.

      Care to reconsider your unfounded statement, stupid?

      January 1, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • The End

      George Takei and Ricky Gervais!! The atheists have won!!

      January 1, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
  11. Enlightened

    Fact: 90% of Christians have never read the bible cover to cover.

    January 1, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • Statman

      For most of them, it wouldn't matter if they did. There are too many stupid believers out there.
      Not sure about the 90 percent though, anyway. Links?

      January 1, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • Cletus

      Neither have 90% of atheists – more, probably

      January 1, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • Phil

      If they did, (and were somewhat intelligent) they would quickly become atheist.

      I read it...and that was one of the reasons I went from agnostic to atheist.

      January 1, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • Joe

      Actually Cletus, Atheists are generally more knowledgeable about religions than most. I've read the Bible and the Koran, myself.

      January 1, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
  12. Eric

    I just hope Romney being a presidential candidate will help people understand what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is all about, instead of believing some of the twisted, distorted things you hear about the Mormons.

    January 1, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • Statman

      The truth about Mormons is that they are members of a cult that was created by a known con-man / fraud artist who was convicted many times of swindling, fraud, lying, and other such wonderful "Christian" values.
      Oh, yes! The truth will come out in a big way if Romney gets the nomination. He'd never win anyway so we'd have fun with his magic underwear and real-world ignorance. Plus he does nothing but pander to all crazies.
      They should call him "Skid-mark Romney" for being such a waste of time.

      January 1, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
  13. I Predict It Will Be More Of The Same

    I bet Sally Quinn was so mad when she made her prediction that she went and laid down in her labyrinth for about half a day. Again.

    Oh magic labyrinth, save the world for women in red bras!

    January 1, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
  14. Cletus

    I predict godless heathen will help yet another person abort their child!

    January 1, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • Answer

      Aborting a religious person will be better. But we all know babies are born atheists. So we'll save the atheists. 🙂

      January 1, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • Bob

      Another great post by Answer. Thanks, Answer. You're faster than I am today.

      January 1, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • Answer


      Not really faster. But thanks.

      By the way – religious clowns are just slow.

      January 1, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      I predict that believers in the USA will continue their hypocritical behavior by continuing to have over 700,000 abortions per year accounting for over 70% of all abortions (in the USA).

      January 1, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
  15. Cletus

    I predict godless heathen will blow Answer, just to be contrarian

    January 1, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
  16. Cletus

    I predict godless heathen will kill someone, just for fun

    January 1, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • Answer

      Religious zealots will do most of those. With their so called "love" and "tolerance".

      January 1, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • Bob

      "Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion."

      -Steven Weinberg

      January 1, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
  17. mike

    What a bunch of BS...Spirituality is great but organized religion of any kind is absolute bunk. you can believe in God without belonging to any of the worlds hypocritical religions. If there were no organized religions what a peaceful world we would have..imagine the wars and brutalities we could have avoided

    January 1, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
  18. Jute

    So are the spiritual advisors fortune tellers or prophets?

    January 1, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
  19. Cletus

    I predict that Answer will STILL hate his parents in 2012

    January 1, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • godless heathen me

      You're a d.i.c.k., Cletus. I know you've been told that many, many times already. I just wanted to say it again.

      January 1, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • Answer

      Laughable. I love my parents unlike you religious clowns who think of only hate.

      January 1, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
  20. achepotle

    I feel slightly more stupid for having wasted 5 minutes on this tripe (and another 30 seconds responding)...give me something important, like Demi Moore gossip.

    January 1, 2012 at 7:35 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.