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My Top Ten List of 2012 Predictions on Sexuality, Religion, and Public Life

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This is the time of year of top ten lists and predictions for 2012. Although I don't have any particular prognostication skills, I do think it's safe to predict that sexuality, religion, and public life will continue to dominate the headlines during 2012. Here are my top 10 predictions:

10. The Republican candidate for President will run on an unambiguous anti-choice platform.
Regardless of who the candidate is, this isn't too much of a stretch. All of the candidates in the Republican race are anti-choice; the only question is HOW anti-choice the candidate will be. Rick Santorum, who came in second in the Iowa Caucuses, has even spoken out against federal support for birth control.

9. The White House will disappoint pro-choice supporters, again. We will see a return to more pronouncements about reducing the numbers of abortions rather than reducing the need for abortion by reducing unintended pregnancies. Despite assurances from the White House that they are pro-choice, in 2011, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services stopped Plan B from being available without a prescription to adolescents and allowed access to abortion to be stripped from health care reform legislation, even when people paid for it themselves. The White House will continue to reach out to conservative voters by not standing strong on access to abortion services, not working to repeal the Hyde Amendment and not speaking out against state based initiatives to declare embryos persons. This is not a year where access to safe and legal abortion will be expanded.

8. The Republican candidate for President will be anti-full equality for LGBT persons and will speak out against same sex marriage. None of the Republican candidates are supportive of full LGBT equality and none publicly support same sex marriage. Some of the candidates, again like Santorum, are more virulent in their attacks, going as far as saying they would step in to make marriage illegal for same sex couples in states where it exists and even invalidating all existing same-sex marriages via constitutional amendment.

7. The President will NOT support same sex marriage in 2012. Despite being the most pro-LGBT President in history, the President will not speak out for marriage equality--despite what I believe must be his support in his heart. If President Obama is elected for another term, I think the President will speak more directly about marriage equality, apropos of Secretary Clinton's remarks on LGBT rights as human rights last week.

6. Several major political and/or religious figures will be involved in extramarital sex that will be exposed publicly. In 2011, we learned about Anthony Weiner and Herman Cain and more than we cared to about John Edward's bad decisions and actions. It will keep happening in 2012. Powerful men in public office will continue to forget that a sexually healthy adult can have a sexual feeling without acting on it, tweeting about it, or putting their reputation at risk.

5. Child sexual abuse in faith communities, universities, and schools will continue to be exposed--and will continue to happen. Despite--or maybe because of--the national teachable moment on Penn State, more allegations of child sexual abuse by people in authority will be revealed. I hope that more attention will be paid to child sexual abuse prevention in 2012. And unfortunately, the details of bystanders not taking action--as with Penn State, Syracuse University, and in too many churches--will continue to horrify us.

4. The issue of full inclusion of lesbians and gays will continue to be controversial in mainstream denominations, and debated at The United Methodist Church and Episcopal Church (USA) General Assemblies. The Episcopal General Assembly is poised to authorize rites for same sex couples, and may permit its clergy to perform same sex marriages in states where it is legal. I fear that once again The United Methodist Church will narrowly defeat changing its position on homosexuality to one of greater inclusion and welcome.

3. Marriage equality will continue to move forward in 2012. The American electorate will continue to support marriage equality in increasing numbers. Washington State will pass marriage equality, following recent support by its governor. Attempts to roll back marriage equality will not be successful.

2. The teenage birth rate, which reached its lowest level in 2011 in 70 years, will continue to decrease. Teenagers will continue to act more responsibly about their sexuality, as they have increasingly done in the past decade. The teenage rate of sexual intercourse will stay the same and contraceptive use at first intercourse will continue to rise. The Internet will continue to be teenagers' major support of sexuality information--both good and bad--as state and local communities continue to struggle with what can be taught in public schools.

1. Progressive religious voices that support sexual justice will continue to grow in the public debate. More and more religious leaders will speak out for sexual health, sexuality education, and full inclusion of women and LGBT people in 2012. More seminaries will meet the criteria of a sexually healthy seminary, more denominations will require sexuality education of their clergy candidates, and more congregations will address sexual health. People will understand that diverse people of faith support reproductive justice, sexuality education, and full inclusion of women and LGBT persons.

What are your predictions for 2012 on sexuality, religion, and public life? More importantly, what could you resolve to do to assure that every faith-based community is sexually health and just?

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