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. AT40 Fan

    I am willing to bet anyone that the world will not end in December. The Mayans had no special power to fortell the future. December 21, 2012 will be just like any other day in 2012. And the world will learn this prediction is false on December 22, 2012.

    January 2, 2012 at 1:28 am |

    Plain Silly !

    January 2, 2012 at 1:28 am |
  3. Elmo

    I am that I am. It is alive and we are part of it. Only an animal would be driven to violence by the discussion of such a beautiful thing. Only a moron would deny the obvious link, the biological association, the law of thermodynamics.

    January 2, 2012 at 1:14 am |
    • jeep

      "I am what I am, and that's all what I am." Only an animal would deny the wisdom of Popeye.

      January 2, 2012 at 1:20 am |
  4. wert

    Humor post

    From Bill Maher's "New Rules for the New Year" at nytimes(dot)com:

    New Rule If you were a Republican in 2011, and you liked Donald Trump, and then you liked Michele Bachmann, and then you liked Rick Perry, and then you liked Herman Cain, and then you liked Newt Gingrich ... you can still hate Mitt Romney, but you can’t say it’s because he’s always changing his mind.

    January 2, 2012 at 1:14 am |
    • BNB42

      That was great...

      Pushing "like" button

      January 2, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  5. 1954Nana

    Nat Q – there are people in every walk of life that are angry, vitriol, hypocritical, back-stabbing, greedy, willfully ignorant, bigoted and so on and so forth – it's called being human, not something a believer strives for but it happens. Best phrase my mother always used "Christians aren't perfect just forgiven". Being religious means nothing – having a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ is what it is all about.

    January 2, 2012 at 1:09 am |
    • b4bigbang

      Amen Nana!

      January 2, 2012 at 1:37 am |
    • Agreement


      January 2, 2012 at 1:43 am |
    • Elwood P. Dowd


      I'll bet, however, that you would scoff at my relationship with my 6' 3.5' invisible rabbit friend named Harvey...

      January 2, 2012 at 1:49 am |
  6. Atheist #1


    January 2, 2012 at 12:47 am |
  7. HereToo

    more mythology ....

    January 2, 2012 at 12:46 am |
  8. Jesus

    Religion was a bet between me and God, I didn't think people where dumb enough to fall for it, God did
    I lost now I owe God 50 pieces of silver. When he asked me to pay up I said ask the pope he has more
    money then poor old me.

    January 2, 2012 at 12:46 am |
    • Hehe101

      Who ever said Jews have all the money? Oh right.... People who followed his [pope] religion.

      January 2, 2012 at 1:20 am |
  9. Reality

    For 2012-

    Recognizing the flaws, follies and frauds in the foundations of Islam, Judaism and Christianity, the "bowers", kneelers" and "pew peasants" will continue to converge these religions into some simple rules of life. No koran, bible, clerics, nuns, monks, imams, evangelicals, ayatollahs, rabbis, professors of religion or priests needed or desired.

    Ditto for houses of "worthless worship" aka mosques, churches, basilicas, cathedrals, temples and synagogues.

    January 2, 2012 at 12:39 am |
  10. Mr. Hat

    @Jim C
    Note the word "Usually". And Lord Abraxas after thinking about the definition you're right. Sorry about that.

    January 2, 2012 at 12:37 am |
    • Mr. Hat

      Oops. Wrong reply.

      January 2, 2012 at 12:40 am |
  11. DB in Illinois

    Hopefully, we'll recognize that more often than not religion gets in the way of faith. Public pronouncements of your religious views will not be as important as what you're actually practicing on a daily basis. In other words, lead and practice by example not by what you interpret the Bible as saying. We will also come to accept that the Bible is a book of books written by inspired men and that many other "books" were never included for various or reasons or politics. The Bible provides only a general guide, not an absolute direction. As in other religious books like the Koran, the basic message is peace, love and respect for one another even to the act of defending by force the rights, dignity and safety of neighbors and community of man.

    January 2, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • Terp

      I see our Muslim troll is back with lies about the Q'uran again.

      January 2, 2012 at 12:40 am |
  12. mcv57

    I am a Christian, but I do not believe the End-of-World prediction for 2012. Jesus did not know, "only the Father knows." Yet, I do believe that if Obama does gets re-elected .... same ole thing for the economy: Stagflation and high unemployment (more recession cover-up propaganda). I believe there will be more numerous world turmoil in man's politics, social deprivation, racism, and the mother earth which will give society more anxiety not peace. Social morality will fade, and mass media will continue to feed the minds of the world with lust. Well, read the Bible if you want to know more -nothing has been left-out. Even Hitler thought that Muslims in his military would have been better than Christians. The scary part, "all things must come to past." Jesus promise is that "I am the resurrection."

    January 2, 2012 at 12:31 am |
    • Ashton Kutcher

      Without Citing the Bible as a Reference tell me One Bad thing ABOUT GAY PEOPLE!

      January 2, 2012 at 12:40 am |
    • Reality

      Saving Christians from the Infamous Resurrection Con/Disease:

      From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

      Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

      To wit;

      From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

      "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
      Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

      Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

      Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

      The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

      Only Luke's Gospel records it. The Assumption ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

      "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."

      The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

      Of course, we all know that angels are really mythical "pretty wingie talking thingies".

      With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

      An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,


      "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

      p.168. by Ted Peters:

      Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

      So where are the bones"?

      As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

      January 2, 2012 at 12:41 am |
  13. Leucadia Bob


    January 2, 2012 at 12:27 am |
  14. Az911

    After reading the news and watching the blog posts on CNN for the past few years I think I might take a crack at this "Atheist" "God" discussion. It seems that the only head way that is ever made on these posts that go back and forth, is evidence that is similar in nature. So I will pose a few questions, ones that I have asked myself and I'm interested to see what people post. As I am still thinking how the question can be asked before answering them with what knowledge I have.

    Can the simple word "Universe" and "God" not BE the same thing? When I die, I will simply rot in the ground and the collective energy inside me will return to whence it came. Or, my soul will simply arrive in Heaven or Hell. These two concepts, when applied to what I know about science and religion seem to mean the same exact thing.
    So why use the words "Universe" or "God"? It doesn't really matter if I know that at least SOMETHING will happen when I die. The concept being that science and religion just have different names for how they explain existence and that it uses english. Wasn't the bible translated 44 times by scholars in the 1600's? Isn't the knowledge of the universe constantly changing daily? How do I know that anything is a TRUE representation of existence. When all that really matters, is that energy can't be created or destroyed.
    I am normal mid twenties human and I have spent many years in college learning about science. Most of my life was spent in a church. All that I have learned from the previous generations, and the ones being born is a simple saying.
    "The only thing you HAVE to do in life is make a choice. If choice is not right or wrong, because humans are not perfect, Than the only thing that matters in life is what you choose to do. The only thing that matters in death is what you chose to do."
    This does not disprove or prove anything. I believe that it simply empowers you to choose when and how you live your life and when our death arrives, the "Universe" or "God" has your imprint stamped on it. Through all choices made, whether big or small, young or old. So instead of asking myself the differences. I ask my self where the similarities are in these posts.
    That way I win no matter what. =D

    January 2, 2012 at 12:26 am |
    • bob

      Unfortunately most religious people are not like you and dont want people to make a choice, they want force.

      January 2, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • ashrakay

      The difference comes into play when people say they DO know which it is, or when they use reductive logic to answer complex questions with simple answers, such as "god". I enjoyed reading your post. I would recommend reading Sam Harris' books as he does a great job in addressing many of the questions you posed here.

      January 2, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • Mike p

      What you speak of is referred to as Panthism.

      January 2, 2012 at 12:36 am |
    • Mike p

      I'm sorry, Pantheism.

      January 2, 2012 at 12:38 am |
    • Can you hear me now...

      Listen bubs...nobody cares what you think, how you feel, what's your likes & dislikes are...what's important is when are

      you going to mail out the checks? Let's get on the stick...

      January 2, 2012 at 12:42 am |
    • Ironicus

      There are zero reasons to assume that any "god" exists in the first place, since we have no communications or even any indications that there is a "god" to begin with.
      Just wishful thinking on your part.
      You want your wishful thinking to be true because you view it as benign yet the universe is anything but benign, so why would you assume a "god" is benign when there is no indication of it even existing in the first place?

      January 2, 2012 at 12:56 am |
  15. Lenny Pincus

    A faith based prediction? Does that mean you have faith these predictions will happen? If they don't, will your faith be destroyed? Or does that mean you are making predictions based on your faith in God? If they don't happen, will your faith in God be destroyed? Or do you believe God is speaking through you to make predictions? Any way you look at it, kinda weird.

    January 2, 2012 at 12:24 am |
  16. Steve the Goat

    Ideally all the jeebus freaks and other religious nutnubs would just take part in a mass suicide to go meet their maker. It would help with population control and allow us to advance as a species.

    January 2, 2012 at 12:18 am |
  17. JTC

    I am a Christian who might be classified as an Evangelical.
    I am in no way threatened by the mutlitude of reasonable people who claim to be athiest.
    Atheists have not been the ones commiting acts of terrorism. Athiests are not mass murderers.
    What concerns me are the religious fanatics of islam. They are the terrorists.
    Chistians, Jews, Budhists, Hindus, etc. are not terrorists and niether are atheists.
    I would rather live next door to an athiest than a muslim anyday.

    January 2, 2012 at 12:13 am |
    • ashrakay

      Well, if it weren't for the Oklahoma City Fed bldg bombing and the abortion clinic bombing, you would have had me... but your point was well received none the less.

      January 2, 2012 at 12:16 am |
    • askn

      U heard about Islam more often because they r a vast majority of the world population and Western Media is run by mostly Zionists which only shows the negative side of Islam and would not show any positive side.

      January 2, 2012 at 12:20 am |
    • Jim C.

      Look up Hindu violence, it's pretty bad at times. Buddhists are quite peaceful, but the Christians have not had a good run lately. Check out the "Lords resistance army", witch burning in Nigeria, and the violence in Serbia against Muslims. You stated the problem perfectly, "religious fanatics". When someone loses the ability to keep faith internalized and feel the need to force it onto others, problems arise.

      January 2, 2012 at 12:23 am |
    • askn

      Just like Islam is going through these days, every religion has gone through the same kind of violence & misrepresentation. Hindus have facing the problems of Caste which is a barrier in their success, also there r many misinterpretations of Bible too & u must be aware about what happen in Norway few months before!

      January 2, 2012 at 12:25 am |
    • veggiedude

      The KKK were a christian sect of some sort, and they were certainly terrorists. Same with those who have bombed abortion clinics. Atheists are nice people. I should know, I am one.

      January 2, 2012 at 12:25 am |
    • JimmySD

      So what percentage of American prisoners are athiests? Look it up!

      January 2, 2012 at 12:33 am |
    • Nat Q

      I'm atheist and even I'll admit those "atheists in US prison stats" so often bandied about are unverifiable at best, outright fraud at worst.
      There is no official source for them. They trace back to a guy who merely claims to have gotten them informally via e-mail from someone on the "inside." And that person has never verified sending any such information.

      Besides, even if "true," it is probably skewed.
      I mean, if I went to prison and knew the religiously upstanding parole board would be more likely to keep me behind bars if I said I was an atheist, but more sympathetic and likely to release me early on parole if I claimed to be a Christian, I'd tell the prison statistician I was a cross-wieldin', bible-thumpin', god-servin', born again Christian man without a second thought. Prison is a false, forced environment and unless you can track stats of what people were WHEN THEY COMMITTED THEIR ACTUAL CRIMES (and not 2 years later when asked on some form while already in prison), the statistic is 100% meaningless.

      January 2, 2012 at 12:57 am |
  18. Jackkkkkkkkk

    I love watching Fox News.... those Christian leaders are great

    January 2, 2012 at 12:08 am |
    • LauraJT

      LOL! Did you know that those who exclusively watch Fox News are more UNinformed than those who watch no news at all? Personally, Fox makes me gag; I initially enjoyed it but simply cannot stomach it any longer. Those people are just far too stupid for me.

      January 2, 2012 at 12:20 am |
  19. bob

    Ahh sorry wrong forum this is where the dumb people are, bye

    January 2, 2012 at 12:07 am |
  20. Gunilla

    I'm from Sweden, and ever since I moved to the U.S. the past 6 years I have become more and more religious. I used to be extremely secular, not very religious. I think when living in this country being surrounded by churches everywhere, people mentioning 'God' all the time etc. you'll become more religious.

    January 2, 2012 at 12:05 am |
    • Jim C.

      @Gunilla, is your experience a form of fitting in culturally? Do you find the belief system is consistent with your world view? If not then you should really reconsider how you fit into your community.

      January 2, 2012 at 12:16 am |
    • LauraJT

      It depends what part of the country you're in and what religious affiliation you have. In the south, you're in the "Bible Belt" where Christianity is everywhere. In the northeast, not so much.

      January 2, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • Gunilla

      I don't know but I just became much more religious living in the U.S... Even Scandinavian Americans are religious, but those in their home countries are very secular. BTW I live in northern NJ, not in the bible belt.

      January 2, 2012 at 12:22 am |
    • ashrakay

      @Gunilla, Sorry man... we're not all crazy... just the vast majority. I swear. Just under over 50% of the people around you actually believe angels are walking around and getting involved in people's lives. 45% believe the earth is only 6000 years old.

      January 2, 2012 at 12:27 am |
    • Ashton Kutcher


      January 2, 2012 at 12:31 am |
    • Nat Q

      You maybe, not all of us. I grew up here, started off very religious, and living here makes me less and less enamored with religion every day. Heck, one of the reasons I ever started questioning my faith to begin with was the anger, vitriol, hypocrisy, back-stabbing, greed, willful ignorance, and bigotry of those in church around me.

      January 2, 2012 at 1:00 am |
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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.