Most people aren’t preoccupied with Satan, demons, or the end of the world. But like it or not, many Americans are greatly concerned with these topics. A 2010 poll from the Pew Research Center found that 58 percent of white evangelical Christian adults surveyed believed that Jesus Christ would return to the earth within the next 40 years. That was significantly higher than any other religious group. Just 32 percent of Catholic respondents agreed, for instance.
Speculating about how the world ends is probably as old as humanity itself. It was pivotal to the early formation and growth of Christianity. And early leaders of the faith frequently suggested it was just around the corner in their own lifetimes. But over time as those hundreds of predictions fail to come true, End Times literature and that tradition faded away in Christianity.
But it came back with a vengeance in the mid 20th century after the development of nuclear weapons, especially when white evangelicals began to emerge as a political movement in the 1970s.
Talking about all of this with me in this episode is Christopher Douglas, a professor of English at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. He is also the author of “If God Meant to Interfere: American Literature and the Rise of the Christian Right.”
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