Three Predictions for 2011

Yesterday I appeared on Doug Pagitt Radio to look back at my predictions for the year in religion, entered a year ago, and to make some new predictions for the coming year.  I’ll post the video of the show when it’s available later today.  Until then, here’s a recap:

Regarding last year, we agreed that Muslims were less deference in American society.  I had predicted last year that politicians and pundits would stop calling Islam a “religion of peace,” and Pres W was so fond of doing. Indeed, the Religion News Service rated the NYC mosque debate as the number one religion story of 2010, and that was surely a debate ginned up with angry rhetoric from the right.  And not many prominent lefties weighed in — when Obama did, he did so tepidly and had to semi-retract a day later.

None of my other predictions could be so clearly declared accurate or inaccurate.

As for the coming year, I made three predictions:

1) The Catholic Church will announce a significant theological change. I know this is a bit ambiguous; it’s also a bit of a shot in the dark.  If I were more of a Vatican-watcher, I’d probably have a better sense about what doctrines are currently under consideration for revision.  Kind of a guess here, but I think that part of Benedict XVI’s tenure is going to be righting the doctrinal ship, at least insofar as he thinks it needs to be righted.

2) Billy Graham will pass from the scene. And with Billy Graham’s death, there will be a bigass media cycle asking the questions, “Who is America’s pastor now?”  and “Who is the spokesperson for evangelicalism?”  To the first question, the answer may be Joel Osteen, and to the second, the answer may be Rick Warren.  But there are reasons to think that these obvious choices might not be America’s consensus choices.  Neither one, for instance, is as serious as Graham was in his public demeanor, and that might be demanded for the role.  Or maybe we just live in too fragmented and pluralistic of a world, and these roles will cease to exist.

3) A denomination will declare bankruptcy. In 2010, America’s first mega-church, the Crystal Cathedral declared bankruptcy, showing how changes in leadership, changing demographics, and a sluggish economy threaten even the biggest churches.  Well, I think that continued recession will lead at least one Protestant denomination to file for bankruptcy protection.  It may not be one of the biggies (UMC, PC(USA), TEC, UCC), but it’ll be one that most of us have heard of.

So, those are my predictions.  Bouquets and brickbats welcome in the comment section.

Here are the videos of my appearance:


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