When the Seattle Post-Intelligencer interviewed me for our “Countdown to Backpedaling” back in May, I mentioned to the article’s author, Amy Rolph that the belief in the eminent Second Coming wasn’t limited to groups like Family Radio. I cited a Pew Research survey conducted back in early 2010 that mentioned that 41% of Americans polled said that they “definitely” or probably” believed that Jesus Christ would return to Earth by the year 2050.
As Harold Camping’s second biannual failed end times prophecy rolled around, I decided that I needed to write one last piece on that hateful kook and put the whole thing to rest. So I revisited the website for the Pew Research report…
This was especially odd, since when I started citing this page back in April, the page was already nearly a year old. I can only speculate the reason why this was taken off of the page, but I know that the information was removed from the report sometime between Amy Rolph’s article in late May — which references and links to the survey — and late October when I visited the site again so that I could re-link to it.
Even weirder is that Jesus’ return is still mention in the report’s online url: http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1635/future-life-2050-computers-cancer-cure-space-travel-energy-world-war-terroist-jesus-return
(I’ll forgive the fact that Pew misspelled “terrorist.”)
I can only guess that sometime this year, Pew saw through their own internal analytics that the page was getting a rash of new attention and decided to edit out all references to the fact that nearly half of all Americans think we’re living in the end times.
Pew did miss a spot, though. They still have the results of the 2010 survey listed on a Daily Numbers page, so that you can see in black and white that a majority of American protestants and nearly a third of American Catholics believe that Jesus will return to Earth in the next 40 years. And they certainly can’t use their whitewash on the hundreds of other websites — both secular and religious — that wrote about the study on their own web pages.
So, what gives here?
EDIT: Listener Brad found a copy of the full Pew Research report here. The results on Jesus’ return are on page 14.