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. James Edgar

    Most of those seemed pretty well thought out and interesting – as well as predictable. I have recently discovered there is a name for my beliefs: Deism. Such notables as Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Paine, and Thomas Jefferson were also Deists. For all those who might question Deism, I suggest you research The Age(s) of Enlightenment, the actual history of organized religion – including the Council of Nicaea – and the development of the evangelical movement in current America. The history of organized religions' actions in the name of God is just too depressing to recommend.

    January 2, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
  2. mickey weedon

    :You nut bag Christians worship some dead guy on a stick, eat his flesh and drink his blood and believe you getting beamed up to an invisible space daddy in the sky..please keep this crap you believe to yourself it's making the USA look so dumb!

    January 2, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Philippians 2

      (That would be Jesus)
      6 Who, being in very nature God,
      did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
      7 rather, he made himself nothing
      by taking the very nature of a servant,
      being made in human likeness.
      8 And being found in appearance as a man,
      he humbled himself
      by becoming obedient to death—
      even death on a cross!

      9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
      and gave him the name that is above every name,
      10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
      in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
      11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
      to the glory of God the Father.

      January 2, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Stan

      Yep, Philipy, your beliefs are exactly like mickey said.

      January 2, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  3. Jeremy

    I predict that some day, long, long from now people will no longer practice rational thought neglect and religion will be no more. What a wonderful world that would be.

    January 2, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Stan

      The ++1 was for Jeremy. -1 for the guy trying to chase his tail.

      January 2, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  4. momoya

    I predict that religious people will continue to claim that their ideas are more important than the ideas of nonreligious people because of their gawd and their gawd's hole-y texts. The atheists will increase a percentage point or two, but many people who call themselves religious or christian will continue to do so despite their growing doubts because they lack the courage to express what they know deep down–that nobody knows about gawd or the afterlife. In other words, in religious areas of the world, critical thinkers will continue to be in short supply.

    January 2, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Johnny


      January 2, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Getting hold of God

      It seems to me that the contemptuous, dismissive tone of some nonbelievers is at least as ignorant and irrational as the contemptuous, dismissive tone of some believers. This isn't so much a dispute between reason and faith. It's a dispute between reason and bigotry. Let go of your anger. You have something more important to say. Peace.

      January 2, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • Stan


      January 2, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  5. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    Prayer is the evidence of a quality life

    January 2, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • go4it

      Studies show that prayer has no effect at all.

      January 2, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • If horses had Gods ...

      Religious indoctrination of children from birth is a form of child abuse. We give our children Santa, Easter bunny & the Tooth fairy and reveal the truth when a child matures and logically questions them. Logical deduction through intellectual maturity prevents them from continuing to believe on their own, but many are threatened into continued belief in God out of their parents own indoctrinated fears.

      January 2, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things
      Prayer is the cornerstone
      Of the greatest movements in the history of the world
      Prayer is the lifeblood of idea and innovation
      Lacking proper relationship with God
      Reduces man to an animal nature

      January 2, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Streetsmt

      @Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things
      You are talking to the hand.

      January 2, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • just sayin

      Allow the little children to go to Jesus, for such is the Kingdom of Heaven.

      January 2, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • kidding me

      Allow the little children to go to jesus, for we need a steady source of income.

      January 2, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Johnny

      No no, he's right. Atheism is very unhealthy for children. Just think about all of those Atheist priests that took little kids and... oh, wait. Nevermind.

      January 2, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Boogy Man

      If you talk to god, you are praying.
      If god talks to you, you are crazy.

      January 2, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • TR6

      @Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things:” Prayer is the cornerstone
      Of the greatest movements in the history of the world”

      Please provide examples

      January 2, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
  6. Death Metal Jeff


    January 2, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  7. Kyle

    Half of these are simply "duh" statements of obvious trends. The others are moronic wistful desires of people who's belief system is becoming smaller and more insignificant by the day.

    January 2, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
  8. Really-O?

    I predict in 2012 Chad will make many more inane, ridiculous statements like these –

    "I dismiss all other gods other than the God of Abraham because the God of Abraham has told me that they aren't real."

    "Every book that purports to accurately record history needs to be examined critically for internal consistency and for its accuracy in detail. The bible succeeds on all accounts."

    "The Genesis account stands alone amongst all creation stories of the time, a fact universally acknowledged...We are only know [sic] beginning to scientifically discover how accurate it is indeed."

    Dam.n those are good!

    January 2, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  9. Rainer Braendlein

    "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"

    Shall these people go to the LDS?

    God forbid!

    We need a REFORMATION of the current mainline churches. The mainline churches like the German Evangelical Church (EKD) have actually good roots, because they rest in the doctrines of the Early Church, regarding their confessional docu-ments. It is only that some heresies and misbehaviour spread in the mainline churches and thus we need a new Reformation.

    Heresies: Arianism (bishop Rowan Williams), Adoptianism (Nikolaus Schneider, boss of the EKD), gospel of the cheap grace

    Misbehaviour: Gays get ordained priests, pastors and bishops; approval of gay marriage and blessing of gay couples

    By the way, Arianism is the worst heresy beside Islam and papacy, which the Church has ever faced. Arius died like Judas Iscariot.

    January 2, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      Regarding the "gospel of the cheap grace".

      The main failure of the mainline churches was it and is it that they tell people that working and taking care of the family would be all about Christianity (this is the gosple of the cheap grace).

      Work and family are, of course, the the basic pillars of life. Even the Babbitts of this secualr world are engaged in that.

      Christianity means more than that. Christianity means active love towards other people beside the own family. Christian love doesn't depend on color, social status, belief, nationality.

      What about inviting your Muslim or Hindu neighbour/workmate for dinner, walk or football?

      Don't be a Babbitt, be a Christian.

      January 2, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • TR6

      @Rainer Braendlein:”What about inviting your Muslim or Hindu neighbour/workmate for dinner, walk or football?”

      How about I invite that hot Hindu babe in reception to a motel?

      January 2, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
  10. dma

    This article doesn't have a true balance on people...since the only ones that actually rely on CNN are aethist and are people that are not fair and balanced indiviuals who would love to see GOD become extinct...but The TRUTH will always prevail and EVIL always DIES....so this article is NOT fair and balanced just a waste of time (oh and for those people wondering why I'm reading a CNN article since I don't beleive in them it's because someone who read it shared it with me and I had to put my sense in since I had to put sense) May God bless the non beleivers and hopefully shine through and show you the way, the truth and the Life!!! AMEN

    January 2, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • RAWoD

      You should try to understand that those that are balanced have already concluded your position is not acceptable.

      January 2, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • kidding me

      "The TRUTH will always prevail and EVIL always DIES"
      This sounds like a hollywood movie from the '40's. How do you explain that throught history 50% of all humans born have died before the age of 5. And, by the way, this was necessary to provide you with the current standard of living you enjoy now, with all the evolutionary advantages you have gained through natural selection and all the immunities you have inherited.

      January 2, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Hammer Of The Gods

      *** people that are not fair and balanced indiviuals who would love to see GOD become extinct..

      So you are saying that your god is not immortal ?
      In order to become extinct, you have to be the last of your species
      to die out.
      So there are more gods ?

      January 2, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  11. Aaron

    I didn't see " The world will end in 2012"
    I must have missed that one.

    January 2, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
  12. David Johnson

    I usually wait for Pat Robertson's list of predictions. He is like king of the religious nuts.

    I predict that by the end of the year, there will be less Evangelicals than in 2011. People are leaving this putrid church and will continue to do so. Amen.


    January 2, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  13. Хуй

    RON PAUL 2012 !

    January 2, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
  14. Supersticion_Is_Evil

    Faith-based predictions = insanity-based predictions

    January 2, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
  15. JJ

    Religion will become more and more irrelevant as more people decide that medieval religious beliefs based on the concept of fear have no place in our planet.

    January 2, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  16. Zeta Reticulan

    Most of the worlds religions are based on the misunderstanding of who these Gods were & where they came from. Religious Gods were/are Aliens & promised to return (like most religious Gods have promised). It will be interesting to see their reaction to what human memory & interpretation has done to their history on earth.

    January 2, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
  17. DR.TURI

    The end of the Age of Pisces, and all religions, deception, control of information and the freedom of the hijacked human spirit. Read all about Dr. Turi's universal predictions with 98% ratio of accuracy I would trust the source. Google cosmiccode The Truth Behind Christmas Spirit by dr. turi

    January 2, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
  18. BinyaminW

    I'm glad I belong to a religion that doesn't proselytize door to door and I sure as heck don't try to force my beliefs on anyone. I can understand when aetheist get worked up and scream at Christians that G-d doesn't exist because it seems to be retaliation for Christians trying to shove their religion down everyone's throat.

    I don't feel I have to provide a reason for my belief in the existence of G-d and I think you can have a belief that melds science with religion.

    January 2, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • dma

      I feel the need to correct you...Christians don't throw their religion down anyone's throat...AETHIST and other people whom are 4% of the country try to enforce their beliefs on others including trying to remove GOD from the equation...that is REALLY sad...but the TRUTH always wins even if its in another generation...I'll tell you so when I'm in Heaven looking down at you!!!

      January 2, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Binyamin, yours is the sort of belief I can respect.

      dma: You just proved Binyamin's point. You are mad because people won't let you force your god on them.

      The founders of the United States very deliberately separated church from government because they wanted a nation founded on freedom. There is no state religion, thus everyone is free to worship or not worship without fear of persecution (unless secular laws are broken). That is guaranteed by our Const.tution.

      January 2, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • RAWoD

      @dma Don't hold your breath. Religion has had it's turn for roughly 6000 years. It is time for the sun to shine on rational thought and for all to understand that believing doesn't mean truth.

      January 2, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
  19. nooneknows

    I predict that Rick Santorum's frothy platform will overflow with an unexpected explosion of joyful support that penetrates deep into the soul of the real GOP.

    January 2, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
  20. Time to be held accountable for crimes against humanity

    I predict that this year Americans will take the thousands of victims of clergy abuse and the intentional cover ups by the catholic church seriously enough to hold the vatican accountable, Yes, instead of letting them get away with cheap, as usual, apologies hundreds of years later.

    Many children committed suicide and others mentally ill due to the abuses. What did the catholic church do to help them? Nothing, instead to lobby to stop laws that would expose the truth. Catholic politicians helping the catholic church to, again, destroy the already destroyed child

    Not a single catholic dioceses across the US is free from abusing children, they all did. What would we do if this were a day care center?
    Please everyone. Help the victims and their families. One mother I know, her son committed suicide. She lobbied to change laws only for a catholic politician to stop the law from reaching the floor for votes, denying her. That politician is friends with a catholic bishop who is a pe-d-0ph=ile. This woman cried to her death, as other moms did.

    All we need are Americans to stand up against this church and demand lawmakers change laws enabling these cases to come forward and to make those cases public. In the end, we will expose the truth. The truth is the greatest healer

    January 2, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • IceT

      I certainly hope so. At the very least the Catholic church & the guilty priests need to be prosecuted fully and the church should be taxed like any other industry. At best the Catholic church needs to be deemed an enemy of humanity & shut down. To profess to be the moral compass of humanity only to abuse & cover up known abuses is beyond sick, they are a criminal organization.

      January 2, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • Reality Check

      Would you advocate the shutdown of the Hollywood system that has reportedly victimized many actresses and actors who are minors? Depravity is everywhere.

      January 2, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • IceT

      Reality Check .. Yes. A crime is a crime & needs to be punished. If the film industry or the religion industry or any other organization conceals the crimes of it's members & additionally aids in the cover up, yes, it needs to be shut down. The church is much worse in this respect due to the fact that it plays on people fear & professes to do the work of God himself. As long as we empower the religion industry (or any industry) to be above the morals, ethics & laws of humanity it will continue to victimize.

      January 2, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Reality Check, while I approve that you put the catholic church on the same level as that other fantasy machine, Hollywood, the two are really not comparable. The catholic church is based out of a sovereign nation with a recognizable leader and organized rules, whereas "Hollywood" is just individuals and corporations who produce the same product, all with the same legal constraints of the nation in which they produce that product.

      Also, Hollywood doesn't claim spiritual authority.

      January 2, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Hamster12

      I agree- let's shut down Hollywood, the Boy Scouts, athletics, schools, corporations and the government. Seems like they all have a few perps around.

      January 2, 2012 at 2:02 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.