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. Mohammad A Dar

    It's time we start shooting every third person with contraceptive darts, goons

    December 13, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • lol??

      Bad idea from the almighty "WE" of socialism.

      December 13, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
  2. Philpe12

    According to the 14 million dollar National US Adult Leteracy Survey 2002-2006, one out of every four US adults cannot understand information delivered in written words.
    It is of little wonder then that 1 in 3 confuse God with weather.

    December 13, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      "Leteracy" LOL

      December 13, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      Hi AB, working late today?

      December 13, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Hey MAD, no I am just watching a movie on Netflix ("Revolver"). You?

      December 13, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      for me it's time to pack and and go home, it's 11:00 pm here

      December 13, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      You are working late!

      December 13, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      I close my store around 11:45, everyday

      December 13, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
  3. Philpe12

    Jesus never predicted the weather. It was global climate, not weather, that Jsus referred to when he spoke of Paradise.
    Global warming is natural. Mankind and his greedy polluting of this earth has done nothing to chanbge God's purposed creation of this earth.
    It was not God's idea that greedy men rule this earth. Some say it was eves's idea, whispered in the ear of Adam.
    We are NOT God's children. God created Adam. We are all sons and daughters of Adam, a disobedient man.

    December 13, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
    • there is no other truth but truth absolute, and truth absolute is LORD AND GOD OF THE WORLD.

      hindu fabrication Jesus never existed, how could he predict any thing.

      December 13, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Philpe12, I am not wearing any pants and I don't care who knows it.

      December 13, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
  4. Dizzyd

    JohnSummers – very logical
    Dave – funny!!
    MennoKnight – God bless you!
    Russ – good point
    I don't know when Jesus will return, but I know we can't just sit around waiting for Him to show up. We got an Earth to take care of! (And people, too!)

    December 13, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
  5. lol??

    Modern surveys use ye olde educratist method of teaching to the test.

    December 13, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
  6. Apple Bush

    It rained yesterday in L.A. and I soiled myself.

    December 13, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
    • Akira

      Thanks for sharing, Apple.

      December 13, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • Apple Bush


      December 13, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
  7. trex

    .............Look,....if you do believe that GOD is causing this weather ONLY................NOT CO2, NOT EXCESSIVE CARBON BURNING, NOT GREEHOUSE GASES,...........then, why dont you just SELL EVERYTHING AND GIVE IT ALL TO YOUR CHURCH.

    December 13, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • kt

      funny how so few Christians are willing to put their money where their mouth is.

      December 13, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
  8. Rufus T. Firefly

    In other words, by some measures more people believe extreme weather is a sign of the end times than believe in global warming. My god, sometimes I think we deserve our fate....

    December 13, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      RUFUS!!! Where have you been?

      December 13, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
  9. Mohammad A Dar

    the world would survive until the last tree is standing. period

    December 13, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
  10. Kyle

    lol a couple americans die and lose their homes and jesus is comin, but 700 filipinos die with another 900 missing and they say "just another day", whereas americans are like, "DDAAHHH, WHERES PHILIPPINES???" cmon guys, ffs we arent the world and were definately not the reason a christian god is coming for the second time, get over yourselves, if jesus did exist u think he cares we put "in god we trust" on our currency? hed probly smite us for inventing currency in the first place, think. if the end of the world was based on how bad weather is then we should of been worried long before sandy...

    December 13, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • Akira

      Not to mention that the Phillipines is primarily a Christian nation...but of course, the United States are the ones with the truly Christian Christians, right?

      December 13, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • trex

      ............HEY....SAY IT AMURIKAN........PILL-A-FEENZ..........

      December 13, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
  11. Blasé Bob of the Mounties!

    Is anyone actually surprised that 1/3rd of the population is stupid beyond words? Isn't that obvious on any given day?

    December 13, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • kt

      True story.

      December 13, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
  12. My name is end of times, end of the world, judgment day, apocalypse, doomsday, armageddon, holocaust, extinction, death, disease, pestilence, war, genocide, torture, mercy

    "Many Christians believe the end times will be marked by drought, famine, storms and floods, as well as economic failures." I don't understand, don't these things happen every year?

    December 13, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • Electric Larry

      Yep. Wars and rumors of wars, that hasn't been happening since the beginning of the human race or anything. Earthquakes, wow, how unusual.

      December 13, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • Kyle


      December 13, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
  13. PA

    In reply to I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV:

    I myself and the Christians I know believe that it is not known (nor is it knowable) to us when with Jesus' second coming this Earth as we know it will be destroyed, and then there will be a new Earth and a new Heaven. I don't know whether some climatic events/changes may be viewed as any 'sign' of anything; the Bible clearly states that no one knows the time of Jesus' second coming.

    December 13, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • My name is end of times, end of the world, judgment day, apocalypse, doomsday, armageddon, holocaust, extinction, death, disease, pestilence, war, genocide, torture, mercy

      When you say the Earth as we know it will be destroyed does that mean the entire planet or just Earth being stripped of life? Also if there is to be a new Heaven, where will the people in the old Heaven go?

      December 13, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • Larry the truthteller

      The Bible also clearly states that it will happen in the lifetimes of some of the people that Jesus was addressing. Mark 13 is very clear on that.

      So could you explain how you can still believe in Christianity when Jesus was very wrong about when his return would be, and he was wrong about how prayer would work absolutely (Matthew 21:18-22), and all four gospels tell impossibly different and incompatible versions of the resurrection? Why do you read those things and not think "But that's not true! Jesus is wrong about two important things, and the resurrection tales contradict each other hopelessly?

      December 13, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • Akira

      My name:
      One theory I have seen is that heaven will be Earth....that apparently, all of the "righteous", (and I haven't met one who wasn't a hypocrite in that regard) will inhabit the Earth, like some sort of ghosts.

      December 13, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • Kyle

      what PA means by the earth as we know it being destroyed, is global economic collapse, the restructuring of all world governments, the preciousness of certain resources will be doubled, tripled, or more. so its rly how we live our lives thats gonna change, cant wait to see all the white collar college grads get screwed cause they wasted an education on useless crap.

      December 13, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      An education is NEVER wasted. What you view as "useless crap" is a mystery. Literature? Mathematics? Music? Art? Science? History?

      If you view those as "crap", dear, you're part of the problem, not part of the solution.

      December 13, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
  14. Dee

    I think it is all a way of the earth cleansing itself.

    December 13, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
  15. Moby Schtick

    More than a third of Americans see current dating trends and laptop computers as signs of the end times, too. It's a product of fundamentalism to see apocalypse around every corner.

    December 13, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
  16. Aristotle

    Not to worry, God will tweet or post it on his fb page first.

    December 13, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
  17. Podraigh

    What were the question they asked of these morons?

    December 13, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
  18. End Religion

    One in 3 Americans is dumber than a poop flavored lollipop.

    December 13, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • Akira

      Ew! What an evocative visual!

      December 13, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • Kyle

      akira i hope uve seen dodgeball, if not, watch it and then go, "ooohhh yeaahh, thats where its from"

      December 13, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • Akira

      Kyle, didn't see it, and based on that reference, don't want to...

      December 13, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
  19. Bootyfunk

    article should have read:

    Survey: One in three Americans are morons.

    December 13, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
    • Leroy Scharfenberg

      I hope the one third do indeed meet their "End of Times" and leave the rest of us alone. They are useless. I hope they go to their Heaven. I hope they get to sit around for all eternity singing their deity's wonderfulness. Serves them right. Good riddance.

      December 13, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
  20. West of the Moon, East of the Sun

    “We have come from God, and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed only by myth-making, only by becoming 'sub-creator' and inventing stories, can Man aspire to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall. Our myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbour, while materialistic 'progress' leads only to a yawning abyss and the Iron Crown of the power of evil.”
    ― J.R.R. Tolkien

    “Still round the corner there may wait
    A new road or a secret gate
    And though I oft have passed them by
    A day will come at last when I
    Shall take the hidden paths that run
    West of the Moon, East of the Sun.”
    ― J.R.R. Tolkien

    December 13, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • End Religion

      if "materialistic 'progress' leads only to a yawning abyss" why don't Fundy Retardlicans give all their possessions away?

      December 13, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • PA

      West of the Moon, East of the Sun:

      Where is the first Tolkien quote from? Thanks in advance!

      December 13, 2012 at 9:15 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.