The Institute on Religion and Democracy Predicts Religious News Stories That Have Potential to Make Headlines In 2014
Polygamy will gain as an issue in religion and society. With a court ruling in Utah and increasing public fascination with polygamous unions, accommodation of the practice—and debate over its consequences for women—will spread.
Church attendance will increase in major cities. Ongoing success of young churches in New York and Washington paired with economic revitalization of inner cities will result in an increased number of churches in dense urban cores.
But oldline Protestant denominations will lose at least another 300,000 members. The seven historically liberal Protestant churches continue to shrink steadily as demographics trend against them, with congregations continuing to quit the Presbyterian Church (USA) as it moves towards same-sex marriage.
Meanwhile, the National Council of Churches (NCC) will come precariously close to collapse. Following a third major reorganization since 1999, the NCC has dropped from more than 120 staff and a budget of $9.89 million down to six staff and a budget of $1.4 million. A politically polarizing new general secretary may also threaten the ability of the ecumenical council to continue on.
African United Methodists react to UMC same-sex unions. Liberal clergy insistence on defying United Methodist teaching against same-sex marriages could provoke confrontations with traditionalist leaders from the church’s fastest-growing areas overseas, with 40 percent of United Methodism now in Africa.
Christians continue to increase in Israel while decreasing everywhere else in the Mideast. Escalating violence and emigration from Syria and Egypt will drag down the Christian population there, in contrast to a modestly increasing Christian population in Israel.
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SOURCE: Institute on Religion and Democracy