Some people have linked the recent Syrian conflict and the possibility of a U.S. military air strike in that nation to Armageddon.
And folks who live in the South are more likely to feel that the recent events in the Middle East are connected to the end of the world, according to a poll by Lifeway Research, the research arm of the Southern Baptist Convention.
In a news release, Ed Stetzer, Lifeway Research's president, said he was surprised by the findings. He said past U.S. military action, such as the war in Afghanistan, didn't get the same reaction. But the facts that Syria shares a border with Israel and is specifically mentioned in the Bible may have people thinking about the end times, he said.
The Rev. Mark Hitchcock, an internationally recognized Bible prophecy expert who is senior pastor of Edmond's Faith Bible Church, 600 N Coltrane, said he was shocked at how many people are thinking about biblical end-times prophecies, particularly since the poll surveyed Christians and non-Christians.
But he wasn't surprised Southerners were more likely to make the connection between Middle East conflict and Armageddon.
“I just think people here are more conservative, more aware of the Bible and types of things. Probably in the South, there's higher church attendance and more people believe that the Bible is God's word,” he said.
The Rev. Rodney Newman, chaplain at Oklahoma City University, agreed. “I think part of that apocalyptic theology is more prevalent in this part of the country than in other places, and that would influence people,” Newman said.
What did study find?
LifeWay Research asked three questions about Syria and the end of the world as part of a telephone survey of 1,001 Americans conducted Sept. 6-10.
Among the findings:
Thirty-two percent of those polled agreed with the statement, “I believe the battles in Syria are all part of the prophecies of the Book of Revelation,” Forty-nine percent disagreed.
Twenty-six percent agreed with statement, “I believe that U.S. military intervention in Syria might lead to the Battle of Armageddon that's spoken about in the Book of Revelation.”
Women (36 percent) were more likely than men (28 percent) to see a link between current events in Syria and the Bible.
People in the South (40 percent) and with household incomes under $25,000 (41 percent) were more likely to see Syria's woes in the Bible. Those in the Northeast (24 percent) or with incomes of more than $75,000 (20 percent) were more skeptical.
The biggest difference came when people responded to the statement, “I believe the world will end in my lifetime.” Overall, 18 percent agreed while 70 percent disagreed. But 30 percent of those with under $25,000 in household income agreed. By contrast, 9 percent of those in households of more than $75,000 agreed with that statement.