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Signs of End Times? Half of Americans and Majority of White Evangelical Protestants Think Climate Change is Apocalypse

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Scientists blame the surge in natural disasters on the warming climate, but findings of a new survey reveal that nearly half of Americans and most white evangelical Protestants do not share the same view. For them, these extreme weather events can be attributed to the end of times mentioned in the Bible.

Results of the "Religion, Values, and Climate Change Survey, " a Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) poll that was released on Nov. 21, revealed that while 69 percent of Americans believe there is evidence that the world's temperature is rising, most do not consider climate change to be more important than other issues such as the lack of jobs, health care, budget deficit, immigration reform and the increasing cost of education.

The poll, which involved over 3,000 respondents and explored people's beliefs and concerns about the changing climate, also revealed that most Americans attending religious service at least once a month do not hear much from their church leader talking about climate change, with 33 percent of the respondents saying their clergy never speak about the issue.

Those whose clergy do speak occasionally about climate change, on the other hand, were more likely to be what the PRRI classifies as a believer, those who believe that the planet's temperature is getting warmer and that these climate changes are primarily due to human activities, than those who do not hear about this environmental issue in church.

Sixty-two percent of the respondents attribute recent natural disasters to global warming while 49 percent believe this has something to do with the end of times predicted in the Bible. The number of Americans that associate natural disasters with the Biblical apocalypse has actually increased from 44 percent in 2011.

Interestingly, white evangelical Protestants were more likely to link the severity of natural disasters with the apocalypse as 77 percent attribute the phenomena to the end of times and only 49 percent believe climate change has to do with the disasters. The numbers add up to over one hundred percent as the respondents provide more than one cause for extreme weather events.

"White evangelical Protestants stand out from other religious groups in their willingness to embrace theological over scientific explanations for the severity of recent natural disasters and in their skepticism that human beings are playing a role in rising global temperatures," said PRRI CEO Robert Jones. "Nearly four-in-ten white evangelicals are climate change skeptics."

The survey also revealed that more than half of Americans or 53 percent do not think that God would intervene if mankind destroys the earth. Only 39 percent said that God would do something to prevent this from happening.

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