I have no idea what to think about polls like this.
41% of Americans questioned believe that the second coming of Jesus “probably/definitely will happen” in the next forty years. Is that more or less than I should have expected? The proportion goes up among evangelicals, predictably enough, and is relatively low among “mainline” white Protestants – but even then, it’s over 25%. More than one person in every four who think Jesus is going to come back within my lifetime.
In fact, given that a recent Gallup poll had only 78% of Americans identifying as Christian, this implies that more than half of American Christians are expecting the second coming of Christ really, really soon.
Perhaps most baffling is the 1 in 5 “religiously unaffiliated” who share this belief. I must be failing to account for some significant number of non-Protestant, non-Catholic Christians, because how do you believe in the imminent second coming of Christ while not even being a Christian? Are that mysterious 20% all just big fans of zombie movies, who think that a rabbi from two thousand years ago will be among the dead walking the earth and hungry for brains?
But in the same poll, 65% thought that “religion in the United States will be about as important as it is now in 40 years”. 30% say it will be less important.
So, I suppose some people might think they’re seeing an increased secularisation in America today, and predict that this will continue (though I imagine most of them would consider this a bad thing). But I’m surprised there aren’t more people thinking it would be more important. (Was that even an option in the answers?)
In particular, taking into account the 41% figure from earlier, a lot of people apparently think that religion isn’t going to be any more important a factor in American life than it is now, even though Jesus will have come back.
Maybe he’s not planning to make much of a fuss. I haven’t read the book of Revelation, but I should think that the second coming of the son of God is expected to be a fairly low-key affair that won’t shake people’s lives up all that much.
Aren’t statistics fun?
(h/t Atheist Revolution)