By AT News Team, September 12, 2013
According to a poll released on September 11, a total of 41 percent of all United States adults, 54 percent of Protestants and 77 percent of Evangelicals believe the world is now living in the "end times" described in the Bible. Barna Research Group, based in Ventura, California, asked a random sample in an omnibus poll, "Do you, personally, believe that the world is currently living in the ‘end times’ as described by prophecies in the Bible, or not?” The response was much different among Catholics with 73 percent saying no, although among Catholics who attend mass regularly 45 percent said yes.
The poll shows a split between ethnic groups on this question. A total of 54 percent of Blacks said yes as did 48 percent of Hispanics, about one out of two in both cases. Whites were at 39 percent, slightly below the national average. The survey also revealed that married adults were more likely to believe we are living in the end times and the same was true with families that had children in the home.
The polling firm used recognized techniques with 1,000 online respondents among a representative sample of adults, ages 18 and older in the United States from July 29 through August 1. The margin of error was plus or minus three percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. But, it is also true that Barna polls have a reputation among experts in survey research about religion of a consistent conservative, Evangelical tilt. And, this question in an omnibus poll was paid for by the publisher of a new book entitled, The 9/11 Prophecy—Startling Evidence the Endtimes have Begun.
“Even I was surprised by the findings," said James F. Fitzgerald, the author who commissioned the question. "I thought the numbers could possibly be as low as 10 percent for the overall population and maybe 30 percent for Christians in general, or less. I had no way to know before the survey. But the response of the overall population was higher than what I expected from Christians, and the Evangelical’s response was nearly twice what I thought."
Fitzgerald has been working since 1993 to produce a video edition of the New Testament. It is called the WatchWord version and published on 10 DVDs totaling 26 hours of viewing time. To date he has sold 700,000 copies, according to a news release from the Religion New Services (RNS).
"I am not surprised," a veteran Seventh-day Adventist evangelist told Adventist Today. "There has been a recent increase in the number of people who have some interest in the Book of Revelation and the end times. Historically, we have always seen an increase when there are economic problems or international tensions and the potential for war. But, an interest in this topic does not always translate into people getting serious about joining a church and making a contribution to the mission of the church. It does not necessarily make evangelism any easier."
A 2009 survey of members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America indicated that 23 percent had volunteered in some way to help conduct a Revelation Seminar in the last year. The survey was conducted by the Institute of Church Ministry at Andrews University for the Office of Information and Research at the denomination's North American Division.
"This is a confusing and upsetting time for people of faith," commented Monte Sahlin, an Adventist who monitors trends in American religion as part of the multi-faith Congregational Studies Partnership based at Hartford Seminary. "As America becomes more pluralistic, its tradition of tolerance and liberty puts more and more people into the position of choosing between deeply-held values. On the one hand there are people saying and doing things that are abhorrent to one's faith and on the other hand we are supposed to allow this without responding with anger or vehemence because we are all Americans. Also, contemporary political and technological change create new issues that are more difficult to understand in terms of religious traditions. It all adds up to a feeling that the world is coming to an end in one way or another."