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Category: Religion / Topics: Religion Trends

Religion 2019

Reported by Stu Johnson

Posted: February 7, 2019

Predictions for the year ahead

For predictions on religious trends in 2019, I am using the summary from Religion News Service, which represents a broad range of voices. Following is an excerpt of the summary list by Aysha Khan, a Boston-based journalist who reports on American Muslims and millennial faith for Religion News Service.

Despite liberal anti-Israel push, American Jews will stick with Dems in the end

Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin writes the award-winning column “Martini Judaism” at RNS. He also serves as the senior rabbi of Temple Solel in Hollywood, Fla. 

It seems clear to many American Jews that there are elements of the Democratic Party that are moving further to the left on Israel. They are moving from simply criticizing Israeli policies (which is common and often necessary), to flirtations with the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement, to outright demonization of Israel itself. Read more.

A multifaith movement will push to address climate change

Rev. Grace Ji-Sun Kim is an associate professor of theology at Earlham School of Religion and co-author of “Intersectional Theology” and “Healing Our Broken Humanity.”

Scientists have been warning us for years that we must change our ways. They now warn us that we have only 12 years for global warming to be kept to 1.5 degrees Celsius or the risk of drought, floods and storms will worsen for millions.Read more.

American Sikhs will begin to conquer the skeletons in their closet

Simran Jeet Singh writes the “Articles of Faith” column at RNS. He is currently based at NYU’s Center for Religion and Media and is a senior religion fellow for the Sikh Coalition.

In 2019, Sikhs will make a concerted effort to address major issues within the community that have been ignored for far too long. Many of these issues comport with discussions emerging across the rest of the country, such as sexual abuse, domestic violence, mental health, substance abuse, LGBTQ+ rights and poverty. Read more.

Get ready for a new, post-white evangelicalsim

Rev. David Gushees the director of Mercer University’s Center for Theology & Public Life. He also wrote the popular RNS column “Christians, Conflict & Change.”

I predict that in 2019 post-white evangelicalism will show signs of finding its footing. This will look like a whole lot of people trying to create new vision, new churches, new structures and new community, with less focus on all that is wrong with white evangelicalism and more creating of constructive alternatives. Read more.

Catholics will loosen up on clerical celibacy—but for real this time

Rev. Tom Reese, a Jesuit priest, is a senior analyst at RNS and writes its “Signs of the Times” column.

For 2018, I predicted that “This is the year the Catholic Church will get serious about discussing the possibility of married priests.” I guess I was a year too early in making my prediction. I fear that 2018 was all about the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church.

But the problem of a shortage of priests around the world has not gone away; it simply got worse. There are not enough priests to provide the sacraments, celebrate Mass or give pastoral care to the Catholic people. So for 2019, I am repeating my prediction for the same reasons I gave last year. Read more.

Power to the Catholic laypeople

John Gehring is the Catholic program director at Faith in Public Life. He is author of “The Francis Effect” and a former associate director for media relations at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

As the clergy abuse crisis continues to shake the foundations of the Catholic Church, 2019 will be the Year of the Laity. Catholics in the pews are angry, disgusted and ready to act. Lay leaders will emerge to help save the church from itself. Institutional evil and abuse of power flourished because of a toxic clerical culture that allowed the hierarchy to operate under special rules. Those days are over. Read more.

Progressives of faith will have to start walking the talk

Ahmad Greene-Hayes is a doctoral student in religion at Princeton University. He is the founder of Children of Combahee, a organization combating child sexual abuse in AfricanAmerican churches.

As a black scholar of religion and a leftist, my prediction is unapologetically a prophetic lament in the spirit of the African-American prophetic tradition.

Indeed, as anti-black racism, xenophobic violence directed at Latinx migrants, Islamophobic vitriol against Muslims, the burning of Jewish synagogues, the rape and molestation of children in both Catholic and Protestant churches and the unabashed disdain for black bloodshed in the streets continues to register as quotidian practice in the U.S., the gods of white supremacy, capitalism, imperialism, cisheterosexism, sexual violence and deceit will have to be earnestly reckoned with, and with urgency. .Read more.

Mormon Church will loosen institutional control, with some notable exceptions

Jana Riess writes the popular “Flunking Sainthood” column at RNS. Her latest book, “The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church,” will be published in March 2019.

I predict that 2019 for Mormons — meaning, for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — will be a year of many incremental and procedural changes, as the church continues to dismantle some of the institutional control of “correlation.”. Read more.

Religion gets even more political around the world

Dalia Fahmy is an associate professor of political science at Long Island University and a senior fellow with the Center for Global Policy.

The next year will see the weaponization and increased politicization of religion. The results of two years of packing federal courts with conservative judges will show how the scope of politicized religion in the U.S. is expanding. The women’s wave will continue, and more women than men will run for office. This will have implications on the abortion debate and women’s reproductive rights. Read more.

Looking for a solution to the abuse crisis? Don't sleep on the pope's unprecedented meeting of bishops.

Mark Silk writes the “Spiritual Politics” column at RNS. He is a professor and the director of the Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College.

The most surprising religion story of 2018 was the return of the Catholic abuse scandal at a full-blast level not seen in this country since 2002-2003.

As a result, Pope Francis has summoned the leaders of national bishops’ conferences from all over the world to a four-day meeting at the Vatican in February. Expectations for what is likely to emerge from the meeting are now being lowballed. What can be accomplished in four days? Won’t many bishops, especially from non-Western countries, push back against efforts to make them accountable? Read more.

A year of fearless fights for justices

Aminta Kilawan-Narine, a legislative attorney and community activist, is a co-founder of Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus.

I predict that there will be revolutionary female faith leaders coming to the fore in all faith traditions, and that these leaders will emerge with unflinching support.

I predict that the #MeToo movement will exponentially grow and that, in turn, more survivors of child sexual abuse perpetrated by religious leaders will come forward to break their silence.

I predict that several progressive Hindus will run for office and ultimately win. By progressive, I refer to those who will champion the rights of the most vulnerable, fight for racial, economic and environmental justice, promote gender equity, advocate for the rights of LGBTQ people and fearlessly hold strong to their values, come what may. Read more.

Expect Muslim political engagement to keep on the rise

Meira Neggaz is executive director of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, a research organization studying American Muslims.

Everyone knows American Muslims hit a major milestone this year with the elections of the first two Muslim women in Congress, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. But they were far from the only Muslims to run for public office in 2018.

But Muslims weren’t just running for office in 2018 — they were also registering to vote in increasing numbers. ISPU data shows that Muslim voter registration has increased from 60 percent in 2016 to 75 percent in 2018. While voter registration has gone up, satisfaction with the current president is lowest among Muslims in all the faith and non-faith groups we measured in our American Muslim Poll. We predict in 2019 American Muslims will continue to become involved in public life — as both engaged voters and public officials. Read more.

The United Methodist Church will emerge as united and uniting

Bishop Karen Oliveto is the the first openly lesbian bishop to be elected in the United Methodist Church. She serves in the Mountain Sky Episcopal Area.

In 2019, United Methodist will engage our theological sources of scripture, tradition, experience and reason to recognize that whether you are conservative or progressive, straight or LGBTQ, immigrant or native-born, farmer or urbanite, cisgender or transgender, young or old, the 1 percent or the 99 percent, differently abled or the temporarily abled, living in North America or on another continent, or a uniquely beautiful skin hue in the human rainbow — all, by God’s abundant grace, are a part of Christ’s body. Read more.

Expect new alliances and major transitions for traditional institutions

Rev. Johnny Moore is a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, president of the Congress of Christian Leaders and an informal spokesperson for the evangelicals who advise the Trump administration. 

In the digital, those who dwelled on the ideological edges of historic institutions, or whose thinking didn’t exactly align with them, are no longer forced to be a part of those organizations. They no longer serve as gatekeepers to influence, prosperity or change. The organizations will continue to hold major sway but a different type of sway, which will largely be determined by how they adapt. Read more.

The "exvangelical" movement will continue to grow

Bradley Onishi is a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, president of the Congress of Christian Leaders and an informal spokesperson for the evangelicals who advise the Trump administration. 

Earlier this month, CBS aired a documentary titled “Deconstructing My Religion,” which spotlighted the growing number of Americans who are leaving evangelicalism and speaking out about their experiences of trauma and abuse in their former communities. Ex-evangelicals have formed an active and growing online community under the hashtag #Exvangelical. My prediction is that the activism of #Exvangelical will continue to grow in size and impact. Read more.

All eyes on south Asia, where religious nationalism is reaching a fever pitch

Archbishop Joseph D'Souza is moderator bishop of the Good Shepherd Church of India, president of the All India Christian Council and founding president of the Dignity Freedom Network.

The world needs to pay close attention to South Asia in 2019. The rise of religious nationalism is already threatening freedom of expression and belief for religious minorities, and with general elections in South Asia next year, tensions are bound to get higher. Read more.

American Christianity's fate hinges on local churches

Rev. Jack Graham is the senior pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas.

We are living through one of the most turbulent times in American history. Racism, gun violence, drug addiction, sexual abuse, religious intolerance, immigration issues — you name it — abound at an alarming rate. How Christians respond to these challenges will determine whether the church in America will flourish in 2019. Read more.

Christians will set aside differences to unite in faith

Rev. Ronnie Floyd is the president of the National Day of Prayer Task Force and senior pastor of Cross Church in Springdale, Ark.

One of the greatest challenges followers of Christ will face in 2019 will be making sure that our faith is what defines us and nothing else.

If we do not stay grounded in God’s Word, centered on Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit, then we will act, look and sound much like the divided and polarized culture around us. We need to remember Jesus did not say we would be known by our creeds or our doctrinal statements or by what denomination we belong to. He said we would be known by one thing alone: our love for one another. But for that to happen, the church in America must overcome its own divisions and rise as one. Read more.

Remembering the stranger

Rabbi Abraham Cooper is associate director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Religions are meant to be a source of blessing for humankind. In 2019, multifaith leaders have a long way to go to gain respect from believers and atheists alike.

We must find our collective voice to protect Christians in Nigeria from continuing murder and mayhem from the likes of Boko Haram. We must forge effective global coalitions to urge Beijing to allow Christians and Muslims to adhere to their faiths, as destroying churches and dispatching hundreds of thousands to internment camps is unacceptable in 2019. Read more.


Stu Johnson is owner of Stuart Johnson & Associates, a communications consultancy in Wheaton, Illinois focused on "making information make sense."

E-mail the author (moc.setaicossajs@uts*)

* For web-based email, you may need to copy and paste the address yourself.


Posted: February 7, 2019   Accessed 163 times

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