By Dan Gilgoff, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
To open 2011, CNN’s Belief Blog asked 10 religious leaders and experts – plus one secular humanist – to make a faith-based prediction about the year ahead.
Have a faithy prediction of your own? Share it in comments.
Here’s what those in the know are predicting:
1. With the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” there will be a more concerted effort by the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community for gay marriage, uniting conservative evangelicals, Roman Catholics, Muslims and Orthodox Jews in a much more civil but principled resistance. Respectful debate will produce more precise and pluralistic solutions.
–Dr. Joel C. Hunter, senior pastor of Northland, a Church Distributed, in Orlando, Florida
2. A new generation of Muslims will bust out of their culturally and politically isolated cocoons and passionately reclaim their voice and narratives; one that has been stolen, used, abused and hijacked by extremists, terrorists and fear-mongering propagandists. Watch out for a major cultural renaissance as a new generation of Muslim artists and storytellers grab the mic, enter the arena and speak their voice with a revived passion and purpose.
–Wajahat Ali, Muslim playwright and attorney
3. As anti-Christian violence accelerates in places like Iraq, Egypt and India, a government crackdown on Christian churches gathers steam in China, and European bureaucrats continue to drive Christianity from the public square, “Christianophobia” will become a buzzword.
–John Allen Jr., CNN’s senior Vatican analyst
4. After years of increasingly contentious debates and billboard wars between religious believers and atheists, American secularists will begin to embrace a message of positive humanist community, gaining increasing acceptance as they organize cooperation between nontheists and theists toward the common good.
–Greg M. Epstein, humanist chaplain at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts
5. As religious tensions grow over the coming presidential election and domestic cultural issues involving perceived legislation of morality, the media will find more zealous Christians reacting to the issues of the day whose extreme positions will further divide the evangelical church into radical positions, and turn away seekers looking for a peaceful resolution to the churning in their own souls. In other words, the devil will play a trick on the church, and the church will, like sheep, lose their focus on the grace and love of Christ and wander astray. Those who seek peace, then, will turn to liberal ideologies.
–Don Miller, Christian author whose books include “Blue Like Jazz”
6. I foresee multiple instances of dialogue and cooperation between Muslim and Jewish houses of worship, with the initiative coming from the moderate Muslim community. They will avoid talking about the Middle East and concentrate on living as religious minorities in the United States.
–Rabbi Harold Kushner, author whose books include “When Bad Things Happen to Good People“
7. Mormons have delivered the vote for Republicans year after year, but the GOP would be wise to remember that Mormons don’t actually belong to them. We noticed and will not forget Mike Huckabee’s viciously anti-Mormon mockery of Mitt Romney during the 2008 campaign. If Huckabee is the Republican nominee for president, look for substantial numbers of Mormons to defect or abstain. Mormons are the key to Republican victory in many Western swing states; if Huckabee actually wants their votes, he’d better start mending fences now.
–Orson Scott Card, Mormon author whose books include “Pathfinder”
8. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will loudly and proudly denounce the anti-Muslim rhetoric of Republican presidential hopefuls, ensuring that religious pluralism will be a central issue in the 2012 presidential race and nudging President Obama and other leading Democrats to stand tall for one of America’s most cherished ideals.
–Eboo Patel, founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core
9. Religious conservatives and Tea Party activists will increasingly work together to keep pressure on the Republican Party to remain true to its fiscal and culturally conservative principles in the new session of Congress and the 2012 presidential nomination.
–Ralph Reed, founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition
10. More Wiccan ministers and other pagan leaders will be actively involved in interfaith organizations, conferences and initiatives in the United States and internationally. Interfaith endeavors will grow in importance in addressing ongoing needs in the world today as well as in responding to natural disasters and other tragedies.
–Rev. Selena Fox, senior minister of Circle Sanctuary, a Wiccan church near Barneveld, Wisconsin
11. Two-thousand-eleven will be, unfortunately, a continuation of great Islamophobic and uninformed attacks that will further alienate American Muslims and cause great distress in the rest of the Muslim world. However, I predict that the Park 51 will become less of an issue as more New Yorkers decide enough is enough and that they will not allow a few people with an Islamophobic agenda to dictate location of places of worship.
– Muna Abusulayman, secretary general of The Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation
CNN’s Jessica Ravitz, John Blake, Maria Ebrahimji and Kelly Marshall Smoot contributed to this report.