What to expect on the religious scene in 2021: Experts cast their sights on the year ahead

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This past year upended U.S. religious life in ways no one could have predicted and in some ways many have.

A devastating coronavirus pandemic led to countless deaths, a shift to online services and, in some quarters, a mostly partisan-driven defiance of public health restrictions.

It was also a year filled with large-scale racial unrest after the deaths of several unarmed Black people, leading to a renewed reckoning with the legacy of white supremacy in American Christianity.

Joe Biden, a Catholic, won the presidential race while white evangelicals continued to throw their support behind the newly “nondenominational” Donald Trump, considered by many as the best hope for protecting religious liberty and opposing abortion — the twin issues that have come to define their politics. 

We asked scholars, faith leaders, activists and other experts to reflect on some of the issues they’ve seen on the religious landscape this year and what they anticipate for 2021.