The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, by Viktor Vasnetsov, 1887. Graphic: via

By Eric W. Dolan
1 May 2013

(The Raw Story) – The United States has failed to take action to mitigate climate change thanks in part to the large number of religious Americans who believe the world has a set expiration date.

Research by David C. Barker of the University of Pittsburgh and David H. Bearce of the University of Colorado uncovered that belief in the biblical end-times was a motivating factor behind resistance to curbing climate change.

“[T]he fact that such an overwhelming percentage of Republican citizens profess a belief in the Second Coming (76 percent in 2006, according to our sample) suggests that governmental attempts to curb greenhouse emissions would encounter stiff resistance even if every Democrat in the country wanted to curb them,” Barker and Bearce wrote in their study, which will be published in the June issue of Political Science Quarterly.

The study, based on data from the 2007 Cooperative Congressional Election Study, uncovered that belief in the “Second Coming” of Jesus reduced the probability of strongly supporting government action on climate change by 12 percent when controlling for a number of demographic and cultural factors. When the effects of party affiliation, political ideology, and media distrust were removed from the analysis, the belief in the “Second Coming” increased this effect by almost 20 percent.

“[I]t stands to reason that most nonbelievers would support preserving the Earth for future generations, but that end-times believers would rationally perceive such efforts to be ultimately futile, and hence ill-advised,” Barker and Bearce explained.

That very sentiment has been expressed by federal legislators. Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) said in 2010 that he opposed action on climate change because “the Earth will end only when God declares it to be over.” He is the chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy.

Though the two researchers cautioned their study was not intended to predict future policy outcomes, they said their study suggested it was unlikely the United States would take action on climate change while so many Americans, particularly Republicans, believed in the coming end-times.

“That is, because of institutions such as the Electoral College, the winner-take-all representation mechanism, and the Senate filibuster, as well as the geographic distribution of partisanship to modern partisan polarization, minority interests often successfully block majority preferences,” Barker and Bearce wrote. “Thus, even if the median voter supports policies designed to slow global warming, legislation to effect such change could find itself dead on arrival if the median Republican voter strongly resists public policy environmentalism at least in part because of end-times beliefs.” [more]

Belief in biblical end-times stifling climate change action in U.S.: study


  1. Anonymous said...

    Christians refuse to examine their own beliefs or the stories being told by their pastors.

    Honest examination of the Bible reveals over 30,000 known discrepancies, contradictions and errors. This should make one pause on the "inerrant accuracy of the bible".

    However, the real evidence is the "lack thereof" of verifiable evidence. Faith draws its strength and followers from no evidence at all, the act of simple belief is the only evidence needed as "proof".

    Things not seen are "more real" then things seen. Faith is the substance of things "not seen".

    This is why climate change and it's effects are generally denied. It is proof that there is something changing in the world - and the bible does not account for any of this as climate change was unknown when it was written.

    Believers prefer "no proof" in other words, as this does not challenge their faith or their worldview.

    How convenient this is.

    This underscores the entire problem with theology and faith. The absence of proof is deemed "evidence" that it "must be true".

    Of course, this makes no sense at all in the real world.

    Denying climate change is inherent to Christian and bible-believing faith, since anything that could possibly disprove their faith must be categorically rejected.

    This will not change as long as the bible is deemed the "inerrant Word of God", which is of course, patently ridiculous.

    Any honest research can prove all this out by simple examination of the history, creating, distortion, misrepresentation and interpretation of the so-called "Holy Scriptures". Honesty compelled me to do this myself, as I have no use for distortions.

    I found the Koran to be just as fabricated by the way, so my whole view of faith-based religions is pretty dismal.

    Followers are easily misled into believing outrageous lies and deceptions because they simply refuse to accept or examine the truth.  

  2. Jack Van Patten, Fresno, CA said...

    –Jack Van Patten, Fresno, California

    Anonymous, obviously, does not understand the nature of human perception and its relation to experience. His entire Philippic displays his ignorance of religion (both theistic and secular), with its core of faith (in progress; in ‘there is no god’; in technology, or science, as savior; and such like beliefs that we all, necessarily, must have to function in the world). Or, perhaps, in the heat of the moment, he has forgotten these things.

    The Study, however, exposes the ideology, as distinct from theology, of the so-called Christian Right. This unbiblical ideology of the Christian Right attempts to usurp the Judeo-Christian God’s place as Creator (and sustainer, as well as finisher) of all things. Jesus, himself, told us that only [God the] Father knows when the end shall come. For the Christian Right to presume to assume that climate change is ‘God ordained’ verges on blasphemy. As does their sometime claim that a particular action does, or might, ‘hurry the Second Coming’—how can they claim to know what only the Father knows, unless they are claiming to be the Father? This, too, stinks of blasphemy, and, maybe, more than merely stinks.

    Zealots of any (and all) secular or theistic religions, by taking up ideologies that are heretical to the religions they claim to speak for, give those religions a bad name.
    In Genesis (Chapter 2), humankind is charged with stewardship of the Earth. That charge remains. We, humankind, have, instead, been despoilers of the Earth. The Christian Right, by opposing actions to avoid, mitigate, and adapt to climate change, places itself in opposition to our charge to be stewards of the Earth, and, by implication, places itself in opposition to God.

    As a Christian, I fully believe that we are to do all that we can to ‘tend the garden’, ‘watch over the flock’, and nourish and prosper the Earth. That we are to leave more than found—and in better condition—is told us in the Parable of the Talents (particularly in Matthew 25:14-30, and in a different, less applicable context, in Luke 19:12-27). ‘All that we can’ means, among many other things, private as well as public acts; lifestyle and moral changes, as well as voting, letter writing, and assembling to petition for redress of grievances.


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