Survey: One in three Americans see extreme weather as a sign of biblical end times
December 13th, 2012
02:55 PM ET

Survey: One in three Americans see extreme weather as a sign of biblical end times

By Dan Merica, CNN
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Washington (CNN) – More than a third of Americans see recent extreme weather as a sign that the world is in biblical “end times,” according to a survey released Thursday.

Thirty-six percent of Americans say that the severity of recent natural disasters indicate that we are at the precipice of Jesus’ second coming and the end of the world, according to the survey, released by Public Religion Research Institute. The survey found that 15% of Americans believe the world will end, as predicated in the book of Revelation, in their lifetime.

“Theology plays an important role in how we view the world,” said Daniel Cox, the survey firm’s research director. “We have had a number of really severe weather events in 2012, and we thought that might affect how people respond.”

In late 2012, Superstorm Sandy ravaged the east coast, killing 106 people in the United States and causing up to $50 billion in damage. The year also saw a major drought in the Midwest and southeastern United States, wildfires throughout Colorado that provoked tens of thousands to evacuate and June floods that washed out roads and bridges and inundated neighborhoods in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

A belief that the end of the world is near does not necessarily rule out acceptance of global warming, however. More than six-in-10 Americans said the severity of recent storms is caused by global climate change.

“To some, climate change is one way that we are experiencing end times,” Cox said.

Beliefs about climate change and the end times are largely split along religious lines. While most white mainline Protestants (65%) and Catholics (60%) say recent extreme weather is born of climate change, a large majority of white evangelical Protestants (65%) say the storms are proof of “end times.”

The book of Revelation, the final book of the New Testament, paints itself as a prophetic look at the second coming of Jesus Christ. The apocalyptic book says that believers will be saved and that nonbelievers will perish in a struggle between good and evil.

Many Christians believe the end times will be marked by drought, famine, storms and floods, as well as economic failures.

Though they disagree on why it’s happening, most Americans agree that the weather is intensifying. According to the Public Religion Research Institute survey, 63% of Americans say the weather is getting “more extreme,” while only 6% said it was getting “less extreme.”

“While there is disagreement about the causes of, and to a lesser extent the existence of, global warming, there is nonetheless widespread agreement about the need for action,” Robert P. Jones, CEO of the polling firm, said.

The survey found that eight in 10 Democrats and more than 6 in 10 independents say the government needs to do more to combat global warming, though most Republicans disagree.

The telephone survey of 1,018 American adults was conducted from December 5 to December 9. The poll’s margin of error is 3.2 percent.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Belief • Bible

soundoff (792 Responses)
  1. Reasonably

    Easier for them to believe this than global climate affected by man-made pollution, etc. If this wasn't so scary because these people breed and vote., it'd be funny.

    December 13, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • Dan

      Yep. Uneducated religous people are the most dangerous. They don't think on their own so they are very easily controlled by others. They eschew science and education if favor of religous hocus-pocus. That's the exact formula that brought on the Dark Ages. Don't think that it can't happen again.

      December 13, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
  2. Dtb

    At least the Buffalo Bills playoff drought won't go on for much longer!

    December 13, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  3. coriolana

    the other two are sane

    December 13, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  4. Yeoomala

    OMG – what is it with these doomsday seeking people. My GAWD people – you're letting fear run your life. Get a grip – take some xanax or something, but quit living your life by fear.

    December 13, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      The republican party is the reason for the paranoid thinking you see and read today.

      December 13, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  5. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    There's nothing surprising in the data – just wacky fundies again.

    Americans who believe the world will end, as predicted by the Book of Revelation, in their lifetime:

    Population ................................ 15%

    By education:
    High school or less .................. 22%
    College graduates .................... 05%

    By religion:
    White evangelical Protestants ... 29%
    Minority Christians ..................... 27%
    Catholics ................................... 10%
    White mainline Protestants ........ 08%
    Unaffilliated ................................ 07%

    December 13, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  6. TheresABookForThat

    Our nation would be so very much better if each of the people who believed in biblical endtimes ended themselves.

    December 13, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  7. Apple Bush

    Christians, how long do we have to wait for the glorious end of days exactly? 1 year? 5 years? If it doesn't happen until after you die, does it still count?

    December 13, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • MarcNJ

      I remember hearing that it was the "end times" back in the 80s so we're going on at least 30 years or so.

      December 13, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Well, the good news is that the Bible is very specific.

      December 13, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • christ_child1991

      II personally dont know when It will happen for no one knows the day and the hour of the coming of christ and does it count after you die well yes it does read this"For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first."1 Thessalonians 4:16

      December 17, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  8. OU Pharm.D

    I'd love to know how the sampling for this poll was generated. I don't know anybody who believes that the world is actually coming to an end.

    December 13, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
  9. MrsFizzy

    News flash: Americans are a laughing stock for the rest of the world, yet again...

    December 13, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  10. wheels

    1 in 3 shouldnt be allowed to vote

    December 13, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
  11. deadlyserious

    Are. You. Freaking. Kidding?

    December 13, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  12. Weather Man

    like there was never bad weather before – get a grip people

    December 13, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • MrsFizzy

      LOL exactly... too funny.

      December 13, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  13. Thugvon

    The "End Times" is about 500 million years from now when the Sun will start to expand into a red giant and fry all life on Earth(of course Man will be the first to go)....Jesus, God or whatever your fable beliefs are, still will not have returned.

    The Earth has always had natural disasters and always will, wars and rumor of wars have always been around since man and will continue til the end of man....there are no more of these events going on now than in the past, just seems that way because of the technological advances in communications, namely the internet.

    December 13, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  14. Rosslaw

    Of course the world must end in the lifetime of the doomsaying believer. Otherwise they can't be important if the world just continued to truck on during and after their lifes as though nothing had occurred.

    December 13, 2012 at 5:55 pm |

    I told you humans...NOW you shall pay
    no more monday night football...no more ju ju beans in the dark...no more picking your nose and wipping it on the bottom of the seat...
    it is all over – just stay where you are...I will be there soon...very soon

    December 13, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Why will you be there? Will you take the booger.

      December 13, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      GODLESS GOD OR GUTLESS DOG, filthy Satanatan, secular s, denier of truth absolute GOD, shut up goon

      December 13, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      and there is no free pass for you because you know me, goon

      December 13, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @mohammed................You and I have gone at each other before. With Allah letting the Syria gov't treat people like Sh it. You should be questioning why your god is letting this happen and not worrying about a blog.

      December 13, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      Ken, things happen for a reason, sometime, agree or disagree?

      December 13, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @Mohammed.......Of course things happen and DON'T happen for a reason. The issue is the reason. When individuals promote someone of having all power, people like myself will wonder when that power will show itself. If that power doesn't show itself, than that power HAS to be questioned as to its legitimacy.

      December 13, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      where it says you have to buy from salesman, Ken?

      December 13, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
  16. Joe


    December 13, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  17. disengaging from you lunatics

    So 2 in 3 believe the world is ending from ecological collapse and climate change. It's like watching Chicken Little where one Chicken is saying God is dropping the Sky while two Ducks are saying the Clouds are falling because the Farmer did a study. 3 out of 3 Don't know much if you ask me.

    December 13, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  18. ankenyman

    Yes, because the world has never had extreme weather before in its 4.5 billion years, so the world must be ending. People are ridiculous.

    December 13, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  19. Jake

    1 in 3 Americans declared crazy.

    December 13, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  20. Reality

    Only for the new members of this blog:

    What we do know: (from the fields of astrophysics, nuclear physics, geology and the history of religion)

    1. The Sun will burn out in 3-5 billion years so we have a time frame.

    2. Asteroids continue to circle us in the nearby asteroid belt.

    3. One wayward rock/comet and it is all over in a blast of permanent winter.

    4. There are enough nuclear weapons to do the same job.

    5. Most contemporary NT exegetes do not believe in the Second Coming so apparently there is no concern about JC coming back on an asteroid or cloud of raptors/rapture.

    6. All stars will eventually extinguish as there is a limit to the amount of hydrogen in the universe. When this happens (100 trillion years?), the universe will go dark. If it does not collapse and recycle, the universe will end.

    7. Super, dormant volcanoes off the coast of Africa and under Yellowstone Park could explode catalytically at any time ending life on Earth.

    Bottom line: our apocalypse will start between now and 3-5 billion CE. The universe apocalypse, 100 trillion years?

    December 13, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.