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. Sleymon

    It's funny when someone post things here against atheism, and atheists respond back and attack Christianity. Don't think those who are against atheism are only Christians LOL

    January 1, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • Stan

      Psssst, Sleymon: atheists aren't as stupid as you are.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • Johanna

      I always wondered why atheists only target Christians :/ There are 5-6 millions Jews and few millions of Muslims, along with hindus and buddhists living in America

      January 1, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • Stan

      Johanna, oh those poor poor persecuted Christians. They suffered so much in the Inquisitions, while killing all those people. Oh, wait...

      January 1, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  2. RichardSRussell

    Regardless of your religion or absence thereof, I hope we can all get behind this sentiment in the new year:
    *Peace on Earth, good will toward all!*

    January 1, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
    • Vman

      No, I think you are putting the cart before the horse.
      There is no peace possible and you cannot have good will towards extremists who want to kill you and oppress you unless you are stupid.
      I'm not stupid. Go peddle your unrealistic nonsense somewhere else.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
  3. Jazzy

    Who's the cause of 'War on Christmas'? – Atheists (+ Jews)...... Who's against religion? – Atheists....... Who tries to impose their non-belief in peoples face and shovel in our throats? – Atheists...... Who got rid of religion from public schools? – Atheists ....... Who causes the main problem in our society? – Atheists....... Who tried to lie about high atheists number? – Atheists...... Who's againsts our national motto? – Atheists .......Who has misrable life? – Atheists ..... Who were born from a b*ch? Atheits...... Atheists = Nazism

    January 1, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
    • Answer

      Always looking for someone to blame and never see the truth that you are living a delusion. Truth hurts like hell and we just don't care to spare your precious preoccupation with your false love and divinity to tell it to you straight.

      That's our duty. Accept reality and toss aside your petty religion.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • tony

      I didn't notice any "War on Christmas" when I was in all the Stores last month. Never heard so many continuous "carols" from the loudspeakers.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • Phil

      Wrong. Get your facts straight. Atheists did not remove prayer from public schools. The fact that a diverse group of religious people went there and would be forced to conform to one belief, did.

      You are proof that atheists are smarter. We research and study, find facts, test theories... You just pray and hope the answer comes to you when you're taking a dump on the toilet.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • Phil

      Oh AND... How many atheists are in prison? Hardly any. 0.21% in 1997. Look it up.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • Sleymon

      tony: I never heard anyone greeting me "Merry Christmas" in stores.... David Silverman (president of American Atheist) said they are the reason why 'Christmas' is declining

      January 1, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • Vman

      Don't feed the stupid batshlt-crazy trolls like Jazzy.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • Stan

      Sleymon, as you have demontrated, stores would be the perfect place to celebrate the true meaning of 'Christmas".

      January 1, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • Intelligent

      Atheists don't blow up abortion clinics, killing innocent people like Christians do. I've never see ANYONE force their religious beliefs on anyone BUT Christians. They always find a way to slip "jesus" into every conversation. ALWAYS trying to "convert" people. Atheists don't CARE if you want to believe in your stupid ghost stories or not. But let's be real here, you have NO proof at all of your beliefs. Just as Atheists don't have proof of theirs. So no one is superior. Some of the most close-minded, ignorant, angry, violent and myopic people I have ever met were...you guessed it, CHRISTIAN. Any religion that teaches you to condemn an ENTIRE group of people while simultanously telling you to "love everyone" is inherently flawed. Not to mention it's main text was written by nearly illiterate, uneducated people longggg before we discovered most of modern science and technology. Then it was translated and re-translated a million times with certain texts being omitted by church leaders and kings for their own benefit. If you want to believe in that garbage, that's fine, but keep it to yourself. And before you talk about Atheists like you know something, try not to make blanket statements that make you sound like an idiot.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
  4. A

    I wish someone had put that hate from "Christians" would be less..but that's not happening for awhile.

    I believe in god, but I DO NOT believe in hate and blaming things on Atheists. How is it an atheist problem? It is so not that! SO what if people don't want prayer in school? if you are that dependent on praying in school...you have an issue. What about praying when getting ready in the morning? Or just..praying during school! Contrary to popular belief, it doesn't take a lot of time...right?

    January 1, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • Jazzy

      It's not about praying.... it's also about religion being taught in schools

      January 1, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • A4mrtheist

      Wonderful! A thinking Christian. How rare but refreshing...I mean this sincerely.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • Vman

      It is ILLEGAL for the government to make any laws that respect any religion. That includes monetary support.
      I see these evangelical extremists as treasonous criminals who deserve imprisonment.
      Teaching some basic facts concerning ALL religions is just part of a well-rounded education, but "spreading the gospel" in a publicly-funded school is ILLEGAL, as is school-sponsored religious functions / expressions.
      Pray if you want but don't demand the school pay for it or endorse it or you'll be hearing from our lawyers.
      Pay for your own religious schools and keep your religious fingers off government money. That's one of our American freedoms in action. If you don't like it prepare for a shltstorm.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      It's about teaching students truth (Jesus) instead of lies (satan).

      Learning Jesus' truth will set you free.


      January 1, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      HeavenScent finally gets its right! One you learn the truth that the jesus myth is a pile of crap and that there are no gods, you will be free of the delusion of religion.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
  5. Cletus

    Well – another perfectly good half hour wasted. I don't think I learned anything new. I don't think I swayed any one's beliefs – nor did they, mine. I just got to be an anonymous, vitriolic bully – and take the same from others. Isn't technology wonderful! And to think, if we were in China, or North Korea, or Mynmar, or Cuba, or, or, or...either we wouldn't have the Internet, or they'd be kicking in our doors to "re-educate" us!
    God bless America

    January 1, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • Answer

      Nope you did sway a lot of people into thinking your faith is the problem. We atheists thank you.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • tony

      Just think if god had given us all the Internet and on the spot cell phone video, earlier, instead of the 10 commandments. The whole world would have been able to see Moses, Jesus etc. preach and judge the truth for themselves.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
    • Stan

      Yeah, and to think, if god had just gotten off his lazy fat ass and saved those millions of sick and starving innocent kids too...

      January 1, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
  6. tony

    I predict many happy religious couples will experience the "Miracle of Life". I predict many other couples will just a easily be able to choose to prevent the "miracle" by using a condom

    January 1, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
  7. tobias

    15 head cases hiding behind religion. Religion that has caused most wars , deaths and the creation of the brotherhood to begin with.

    January 1, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
  8. .

    99% of those atheists were raised worse than a cow 😀

    January 1, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • NonProphet

      and that same 99% number you use of atheists is more statistically valid to christians, who claim themselves as such but are not christ-like at all.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
    • Phil

      Allow me to enlighten you.

      I was a Catholic for 20 year. Agnostic for 10 years. Atheist for the past 8 years.

      I became an atheist... Actually, I became an atheist again. I was born that way, as all of us were.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
  9. devosays

    this is the biggest bunch of liberal garbage I have ever read... try to be remotely balanced CNN, you can't though....

    January 1, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • Vman

      Go back to Faux Nooz you dipshlt.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
  10. A4mrtheist

    Statistically Atheists have higher IQ and higher percentage of educated that those who are religious. Its because they think rather than blindly follow. As for me I cannot believe in a god whose ego demands we sing praises and adore it while it says do it my way or die/burn.

    January 1, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • RICHARD P.


      January 1, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
  11. Saliba J

    I predict millions of atheists out there will go to hell (PS! I'm not Christian, I'm proud Muslim!)

    January 1, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • Vman

      p.s. you are also very very stupid.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • Mick

      Threatening people who don't believe in the existence of Hell with Hell is pretty pathetic.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • A4mrtheist

      So just like christians your LOVING god wants non believers to die. Are you in line to help him.

      January 1, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
  12. Jesus is the way, the truth, the love


    January 1, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
    • Phil

      Flagged on YouTube for hatred and violence.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
  13. Stalin = Atheist

    Atheism = Nazism..... STALIN was an atheist, so were many extremely terrible leaders.

    January 1, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • CEC

      Stalin and Hitler also had mustaches.

      Like your reasoning. I think you're really on to something.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
    • A4mrtheist

      And the xtians have GW Bush and Hitler. And hope to have Bachman, Perry or Palin.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • A

      And how many people have killed in the name of "God?" I don't want to get names wrong, but Christians have been terrorists. So your logic is absolutely terrible. If you are going to bash people, make sure you get the whole picture.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • Lester

      Positive Christianity was adopted as part of official Nazi party doctrine at the Party Congress of 1920. (source Wikipedia)

      January 1, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • ........

      CEC that's an awesome comeback.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • Greyhound37

      Seriously? Stalin was a fascist?
      I suppose that makes the Christian Hitler a communist and a real swell guy, eh?
      C'mon, you can come up with at least a logical straw man argument to support your sky-daddy.

      January 1, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • dmj

      How are the two the same in any way?

      January 1, 2012 at 10:21 pm |


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

      Thanks - I flagged that video on YouTube because it promotes hatred and violence. Because that's what religion promotes.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
    • chug-a-chuga

      Phil your a retard.....I am sorry i took your lunch money as a kid. Oh and youtube has better things to do

      January 1, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
  15. Cletus

    I predict Answer will not reconcile with the father/authority figure who abused him as a child. The slow burn will continue!

    January 1, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • Answer

      Sure right..

      My dad put up the effort to raise me, put up with my need for education.. yeah sure your kind loves to think of atrocities where none has occurred. Your attacks on family and friendships are none too creative. Try again.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • Answer

      You've been abused Cletus that much is your story. Not mine.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
    • Cletus

      Someone abused you. You're too angry and self righteous to have had a happy childhood. I think Dr Hawking is an atheist, go see him.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • Answer

      Will you buy me the ticket to see him.. so cool of you.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
  16. Answer


    If you ever find out 'why' (the reason why you hate atheists) please let us know what it is that we have done to you. 🙂

    It can't be just that we don't accept your garbage on religion right?

    January 1, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
    • Cletus

      Don't flatter yourself with grandiose notions. You're not smart enough to get under my skin. I'm just killing time on the computer.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
    • Answer

      Same here.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
  17. Phil

    A religious organization puts a billboard up. It says "God is the way". No one says anything.

    An atheist group puts one up. It says "Don't believe in god? You're not alone". Every religious nut comes out and complains until it gets taken down.

    Way to go, religious nuts. See what religion does to people? Take a look at some of the comments on this story. Look at the ones from people like you. See the hate?

    Atheists don't hate...not all of us, at least.

    January 1, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
    • Joseph

      Atheists are the ones' that causes problem in our society... they are the ones' who got rid of religion from public schools, against WTC cross, against any religion and behind "war on Christmas". If atheists wouldn't cause problems, they would have been agnostics or non-believer only, NOT cr.ap atheist.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • Answer


      Too bad for your kind – going out and being extinct soon. So cool.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
    • Phil

      If it wasn't for those who didn't believe - we won't be sitting here on the computer discussing this. Religion would still have us back 500 years.

      Prayer does not belong in public schools because there are different views... You cannot impose 'your' view on me. You want to pray - fine...I don't care.

      Atheists are not the problem. It truly is the other way around.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
    • tobias

      a war on christmas? tell me where to sign up.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • Annie

      Radical Atheists would never have thought to put up a sign if Christians had not done it first. Radical Atheists are a reactionary bunch who hate the fact that the religious/spiriual people out number them. There are many athiests who go through life with nary a problem with religious beliefs. The Radical Athiests are the secular equivilent to Fred Phelp's congregation. They just hate those who disagree.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • chug-a-chuga

      Maybe if they showed a little more taste and class than putting it across the street from a nativity scene they would have better results

      January 1, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
  18. Cletus

    Hey ANSWER – now that OWS has been either laughed, or ignored out of existence, you seem to have a lot of extra time on your hands. Don't you have feces to throw on someone? Oh, right! You're doing here. I forgot.

    January 1, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
    • Answer

      Sure whatever you want to be happy with.

      You like doo.. figures.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • Bah

      You sound like a little kid. Why don't you go over to Foxnews where you can play secret pud games with your fellow idiots?

      January 1, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
  19. A metaphysician

    I like this and I am going to share it on my blog. Hope you do not mind. Happy New Year!


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

      take your lame attempt at spamming and just die.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
  20. Cletus

    I predict a scientist will finally prove the answer to the question, "Why is there something, rather than nothing at all?" too bad Hitch did live to see it

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

      A feat never able to be accomplished by an religious nut.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • Bah

      What a stupid and useless post. What a stupid and useless troll.

      January 1, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • shut up, herbie


      January 1, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      I'm not holding my breath because science still haven't proved "where did it all come from".


      January 1, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
    • BNB42

      Cletus. I believe the scientist 'Douglas Adams' answered that question.....

      Turns out the answer was 42.

      January 1, 2012 at 9:01 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.