Nearly four in 10 U.S. residents blame weather on "end times"

Thu Dec 13, 2012 3:06pm EST
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By Mary Wisniewski

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Nearly four in 10 U.S. residents say the severity of recent natural disasters such as Superstorm Sandy is evidence the world is coming to an end, as predicted by the Bible, while more than six in 10 blame it on climate change, according to a poll released on Thursday.

The survey by the Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with the Religion News Service found political and religious disagreement on what is behind severe weather, which this year has included extreme heat and drought.

Most Catholics (60 percent) and white non-evangelical Protestants (65 percent) say they believe disasters like hurricanes and floods are the result of climate change.

But nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of white evangelical Protestants say they think the storms are evidence of the "end times" as predicted by the Bible.

Overall, 36 percent point to end times and 63 percent to climate change.

PRRI research director Daniel Cox said that some respondents - including 75 percent of non-white Protestants - believe extreme weather is both evidence of end times and the result of climate change.

"No one really knows how (end times) would look and how God would bring it about," Cox said.

Politics also color perceptions of the weather, the survey found. More than three-quarters of Democrats and six in 10 independents believe that the weather has become more extreme over the last few years, while less than half of Republicans say they have perceived such a shift.   Continued...