PREDICTIONS ABOUT CHRISTIANITY'S FUTURE:
Jefferson 21st Century Institute:
This is an institute which is dedicated to the First
Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and the principle of separation of
religion and government. They observe and predict:
||The Institute predicts that the Vatican will shortly release an encyclical which analyzes New
Age religious philosophy from a Roman Catholic perspective.|
||Church/state issues during the later 20th century had focused on
the Religious Right and its leading issues: abortion
access and compulsory prayer in high-school.
||Groups outside of traditional Judeo-Christianity, (e.g.
Christian-Environmental, New Age, Neopagan,
Environmental, and Native American) have
been assumed to be small and have been largely ignored. However,
church-state conflict prompted by Neopagan and other small religions
will increase. |
||"New Age religious movements stress 'holistic
spirituality.'...They insist that for peace and harmony to exist on
earth, the spiritual may not be separated from the physical whether
animate or inanimate; neither may spiritual be separated from science
||"Neo-paganism thus merges science, religion and government
into an inseparable trinity wherein spirituality challenges objective
knowledge essential for governmental decision making."
||"New Age holism directly challenges the foundations of the
principle of separation of religion and government. As a result
government is now under siege to establish New Age religious beliefs
and will be increasingly so in the Twenty-First Century."
Using data from various United Nations sources and the World Christian
Encyclopedia, Todd Johnson compared the expected numbers of adherents of
each of the major religions in the year 2000 with predicted numbers in 2025. He
||The total world population will grow from 6.261 billion to 8.504
||Christianity will grow from 33.4% to 35.5% of the world's
||Islam will grow from 18.5 to 20.2%
||Nonreligious will drop from 16.1 to 15.0%
||Atheists will drop precipitously from 3.7% to 2.8%
||Chinese folk religions will drop from 3.4% to 2.7%
||Tribal religions will drop from 1.5% to 0.9%
||Other religions (Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jews, etc. will remain
He also suggests three scenarios for the year 2200:
||a "most likely" scenario,
||a case where Islam makes major inroads into the West
||a case where Islam is negatively affected by secularization. 2
In a second article, he summarizes the predictions of many other
futurists; they range from a "collapse of organized religion
beginning in 2006" to the "extinction of not only
polytheism (including Hinduism) but also of all major religions except
David Martin is emeritus professor of sociology at the London School of
Economics. He wrote "Tongues of Fire: The Explosion of Protestantism
in Latin America." 4 He discussed the following topics:
||Both East and West Europe are falling away from Christianity -
particularly in those countries where religion and ethnicity were not
linked. Protestantism declined first. This is now being followed by Roman
||Due to religious pressure and a low birth rate, the number of Christians
is falling in the Middle East.|
||Religious trends in North America are different:
||Denominational loyalties are corroding.
||Church attendance is very high.
||Liberal Protestantism is under the greatest pressure.
||Conservative Protestantism "stays relatively resilient."
||Both the English and French speaking regions of Canada may follow the secular direction
of Europe rather than the American path.
||Latin America, which includes "more than a quarter of the world's
Christians and half its Catholics," is undergoing rapid
change. Roman Catholicism is in decline. "...there emerged a charismatic faith, autonomous,
self-steered, self-improving, combining motifs from the religion of poor
blacks and poor whites."|
||Africa now accounts for more than 20% of the world's Christians. Pentecostalism
and Roman Catholicism are the big winners here.|
||Asia is "the big question mark." Generally, Christianity
has been unsuccessful in Asia; Christians total fewer than 200 million --
fewer than in the U.S. South
Korea is an exception; 30% are Christians. China's official churches, both
Catholic and Protestant, have stagnated. But "free-range"
Christianity [in the form of house churches] has exploded. Elsewhere in
Asia, many Christians are found among marginal peoples (e.g. in India or Nepal)
and in the new middle class (e.g. Singapore, Indonesia, etc). |
||"Some things are pretty
obvious. One is that the Christian religion is on the wrong foot in those
old heartlands where it was tied up in established powers and forms. In the
U.S., by contrast, it is in alignment with a plural society in motion and
well attuned to a messianic nationhood. Other continents also seem to be
finding their own trajectories." 5|
The OCRT is the sponsor of this web site. We consist of 5 volunteers: a retired Electronics
Engineer, a Registered Nurse, an urban planner, an IT professional and an unemployed waitress. None
of us have any particular expertise as "religious
futurists. ( WNRF) However, there exists such a wide range of
conflicting predictions by so many different experts that we probably have as good a chance
as any of being
accurate. We updated these predictions in 2004-OCT, but will not make further
We predict that over the interval 2000 to 2025:
||The pope will retire from office for health reasons or die by 2005 . The new
pope will share his conservative views. A schism, driven largely by
conflict over sexual policies, will occur before the year 2015, as the Roman Catholic church in
the U.S., Canada, Holland, and some other European countries break away from Rome to form the Western Rite of the
Catholic Church. The Roman Catholic church will then become primarily a South
American and African organization.|
||There will be a rapid growth of Pentecostal denominations in Africa
and South America.|
||Both conservative Christians and the non-religious will grow in numbers;
mainline and liberal Christian denominations will continue to shrink. |
||The culture in North America will become much more polarized
between very conservative Christians and very liberal non-believers.
||The percentage of Americans who identify themselves as Christian
will continue to shrink by about one
percentage point per year. In 2001, it was 76%. By 2025, Christianity
will become a minority religion in the U.S.|
||The percentage of adults who tell pollsters that they attend weekly church
services, will drop from the current 40% in the U.S. and 20% in
Canada to about 25% and 12%. (Since many people fib during these polls, the actual numbers of church attendees will be
about half those figures.)|
||A major trend within Christianity will be a return to its original first century format. The home
church movement will grow, as attendance in formal congregations
declines. Attending democratically structured meetings in small groups in people's homes will
become the dominant format of the Christian worship experience by the
middle of the century.|
||None of the events prophesized in our future by the books of Daniel,
Matthew and Revelation will
have come to pass by 2025.
The reconstruction of the temple at Jerusalem, the resumption of the ritual
killing of animals there, the rapture, the war of Armageddon,
the second coming of
Jesus Christ, the rising to power of the Antichrist, the tribulation, etc. will not
have occurred. However, many conservative Christians will still
expect these events to happen in their near future.|
||Due to high birth rates and aggressive proselytizing in Africa, the
numbers of Muslims worldwide will approach equality with Christianity by
about the year 2025. |
||On moral issues:
||The number of surgical abortions will be
reduced to less than half the current number, as women switch to RU-486
and emergency contraceptive becomes more
||Gays and lesbians will be able to obtain union licenses from the
government, and have their partnerships solemnized in most liberal and mainline
churches. They will gain all of the benefits and responsibilities that married
couples now enjoy. However, their committed partnerships will
legally be called civil unions, not marriages. This will happen by
2005 in Canada, and on a state-by-state basis in the U.S.
||The vast majority of couples will enter into one or more living-together relationships
before they marry.
||The over 40 million Americans who currently have no health care
insurance will grow in numbers by about one million a year. This
will eventually be recognized as the main moral issue facing the
federal government. The U.S. will follow the Canadian model of health care so that all
Americans will have access to health care. The life expectancy of people
in the U.S. will grow as a result.
Rochester branch, Americans United:
Their newsletter, "Protecting the Wall," described future
areas of controversy about the separation of church and state. Some of the
future trends that they predict are:
"21st century challenges to separation of religion and government,"
Jefferson 21st Century Institute, at: http://www.j21c.org/
Todd Johnson, "Religious projections for the next 200 years,"
Todd Johnson, "The future of religion: Rise or decline,"
David Martin, "Tongues of Fire: The Explosion of Protestantism in
Latin America." (Out of print).
David Martin, "Will the next era be post-Christian?," National
Post, Toronto, Canada, 2000-JAN-1 at:
"Protecting the wall," Rochester Chapter, Americans
United, Vol. 3, # 4.
Copyright © 2000 to 2004 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2000-JAN-15
Latest update: 2004-OCT-21
Author/Editor: B.A. Robinson