With the coronavirus pandemic causing unprecedented lockdowns and economic distress in the US and around the world, a new national poll provides a fascinating and surprising look at how Americans are viewing the crisis and how it is altering their spiritual habits and interest in the Bible and biblical prophecy.
● A stunning 44% of Americans polled said they see “the global coronavirus pandemic and economic meltdown” as “a wake-up call for us to turn back to faith in God,” as “signs of coming judgment,” or both.
● Fully one in five non-Christians (22%) polled said the crisis is causing them to start reading the Bible and listen to Bible teaching and Christian sermons online even though they usually don’t, search online to learn more about Bible prophecy and God’s plan for the future of mankind, and have more spiritual conversations with family and friends.
● Four in 10 (40%) self-identified Christians – self-identified Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox – told the pollsters that they are reading the Bible more than ever, watching or listening to Bible teaching and Christian sermons online since they cannot go to church, and searching online to understand Bible prophecy and God’s plan for the future of mankind.
● Nearly three in 10 Americans (29%) polled said they believe that the coronavirus and economic meltdown are “signs that we are living in what the Bible calls the last days.
The survey was commissioned by The Joshua Fund, an educational and charitable ministry that my wife and I founded in 2006 to bless Israel and her Arab neighbors, care for the poor and needy, strengthen the Church in the Middle East, and teach the importance of the Scriptures and biblical prophecy.
The survey was conducted by McLaughlin & Associates, a nationally-respected polling company, from March 23 through March 26. The questions were asked of 1,000 likely American voters. The poll had a reported margin of error of +/- 3.1%, at a 95% confidence interval.
What I found particularly intriguing was how many millions of Americans are seeing the crisis in spiritual terms.
For example, fully one-in-four self-identified “secular” Americans (25%) said they believe this crisis is a “wake-up call” to get back to faith in God. So did 42% of Jewish Americans.
Given the large number of Christians in the GOP, perhaps it should not be surprising that 58% of Republicans said this is a spiritual call.
Yet fully four-in-10 Democrats (41%) believe this, including 34% of liberal Democrats and 47% of moderate Democrats.
Who else said this is a time to turn back to God?
● 26% of Asian Americans
● 40% of whites
● 52% of Hispanics
● 64% of African Americans
Consider, too, how many Americans in various age groups believe it is time to return to faith in God.
● 42% of young people, age 18-29
● 47% of people age 30-40
● 43% of people age 41-55
● 51% of people age 56-65
● 40% of people over 65
YET, AS noted above, Americans are not simply saying faith is more important to them than ever before. The poll indicates they are taking concrete actions.
Nearly four in 10 (38%) Jewish Americans say the crisis is not only causing them to start reading the Bible, but listen to Bible teaching and Christian sermons online even though they usually don’t. What’s more, they say they are now searching online for teaching on Bible prophecy and God’s future for mankind, and/or engaging in more spiritual conversations with family and friends.
Millions of other Americans who are not self-identified Christians are also turning to the Bible and listening to or watching Christian sermons online, the poll found.
● 7% of self-identified “agnostics”
● 8% of self-identified “atheists”
● 23% of Americans who say they have no religion
● 25% of non-Christian Asian Americans
● 35% of non-Christian Hispanics
● 36% of non-Christian African Americans
More than one-in-four non-Christian young people (28%) ages 18-29 said they are turning to reading the Bible, listening to sermons and learning more about Bible prophecy.
This is even more true of those between age 30 and 40, of whom 36% are turning to the Old and New Testaments in this time of crisis.
This was both surprising and encouraging.
Less encouraging: the poll revealed that the older a non-Christian is, the less he or she is likely to be turning to the Bible and Christian teaching.
● Only 16% of people ages 41-55 said they are looking to Scripture.
● Only 9% of non-Christian people ages 56-65 are doing so.
● And a mere 7% of non-Christian people over 65 said they are turning to the Bible for answers
Finally, in an age when few people openly discuss Bible prophecy and the “End Times,” it was striking that nearly three in 10 of all Americans (29%) said they believe that this crisis indicates that “we are living in what the Bible calls the ‘last days.’”
Perhaps even more striking is how the high numbers are in various, diverse groups of Americans.
For example, some 30% of Jewish Americans said they believe we are living in the “last days.” So did 30% of Democrats, including 27% of liberal Democrats and 34% of moderate Democrats. By comparison, some 39% of Republicans said they believe this.
A remarkable 37% of military households believe we’re in the “last days.” So do 40% of African Americans, and 50% of Hispanic Americans, while only 25% of whites believe this.
Some 28% of young people, age 18-29, believe we’re in the “last days.” So do 33% of people age 30-40, 29% of people age 41-55, 33% of those between 56-65, and some 24% of seniors over 65.
These are no ordinary times. Americans in near full lockdown are anxious, and understandably so. Yet tens of millions are turning to God, the Bible and Christian sermons for answers, many of them for the first time. That may be the most important silver lining in this crisis so far.
The writer is a dual US-Israeli citizen who lives in Jerusalem with his wife and son. A New York Times best-selling author, he is also the founder and chairman of the Joshua Fund, a non-profit Evangelical organization.