Many Americans, most evangelicals link severe weather to end-times pangs rather than climage change, survey says

Same weather, different worlds.

More than one-third of Americans attribute recent severe weather to “what the Bible calls the end times,” according to a survey by Public Religion Research Institute. Nearly two-thirds attribute it to climate change.

Among white evangelicals, 65 percent attribute Sandy and her cousins to signs of the end times, which are linked in some biblical prophecies to natural disasters.

The survey of 1,018 Americans had a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points.

And on climate change in general, there’s also a divide. Twenty-one percent of Americans don’t believe the earth is warming, and of those who do, only 60 percent believe it’s caused by humans burning fossil fuels. Another third say it’s just a natural cycle.

Said Daniel Cox of Public Religion:

“It’s hardly a fringe belief…. They’re experiencing the same weather, but how they perceive it is very different.”

The virtual consensus of climate scientists is that the earth is warming. One of the best-known authors on the topic, Bill McKibben, said the science is straightforward — that carbon spewed into the atmosphere by the burning of fossil fuels traps heat, and the warmer the air, the more moisture it holds — ammo for fiercer storms.

We’re divided along religious lines on these topics. Non-religious people are more likely to believe the scientific consensus than religious ones, particularly white evangelicals, according to the survey.

Also, some 29 percent of Americans believe God sometimes punishes a nation’s people for their political decisions — reminiscent of former Southeast Christian pastor Bob Russell’s post-election reference to Israel’s Babylonian captivity.