WASHINGTON —The reemergence of a 2010 Pew Research Center Survey on the likelihood of Jesus returning to Earth by the year 2050 has Christian leaders in the U.S. up in arms and preparing for the worst.
“It is an eye-opener, no doubt,” said Joel Olsteen, senior pastor of the influential Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. “Already my flock is taking sides. The poll has pit neighbor against neighbor, brother against brother, father against son. There will be blood.”
According to the results of the poll, 48% of Christians within the U.S. believe that Jesus either “definitely will” or “probably will return to Earth by the year 2050,” while the remaining 52% do not share this belief.
“It’s actually pretty easy to figure out who believes what,” says Christian Author Joyce Meyer. “On the one hand, you have people who are always polite and kind, do a lot of charity work, and are nice to everybody. They’re scared He’s coming back any day and want to be ready. The other half, well, they figure they’ve got time, so they’re in no hurry to live a good life. They gamble, curse, fornicate, dishonor their parents, what have you. They assume they can always repent later.”
It is this close divide between the two sides of the Christian nation that has raised alarms. “It would be one thing if the results were lopsided. If, say, over 70-80% thought he was coming back soon,” explained senior pastor Charles Stanley of the First Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. “Then we could marginalize the remaining 20% or so. Label them as heathens or socialists or something. We’re good at ganging up on minorities like that.”
The schism threatens the very foundations of Christianity in America, and a number of mega-churches have hired security personnel to frisk incoming worshipers for weapons. “So far we’ve only found a bunch of Swiss Army Knives and a letter opener or two,” admitted Donald P. Lantz, Sr. Executive Vice President of IPC International, a leading private comprehensive security company. “But it’s just a matter of time before one of those 48-percenters try to force their way in armed with a Rock River Arms LAR-47 assault rifle, or a Thompson M1SB in order to take out all the ‘unbelievers.’ You just wait.”
Whether Christianity in the U.S. will be able to avoid outright war is unclear. Christian leaders are turning to prayer in large numbers in the hope that God will calm the flames of rage burning within their flock, or that Jesus will emphatically tell everyone of his plans so that one side or the other can claim a decisive, righteous victory.
“Honestly, this is the worst thing to hit Christianity since The Chalcedonian Schism of 451 AD over the person and nature of Christ,” said The Most Reverend Denis James Madden, auxiliary bishop of Baltimore, Maryland. “And we all know how that ended.”
Thousands of gallons of oil have spilled from a pipeline in Texas, the third accident of its kind in only a week.
Shell Pipeline, a unit of Royal Dutch Shell Plc, shut down their West Columbia, Texas, pipeline last Friday after electronic calculations conducted by the US National Response Center showed that upwards of 700 barrels had been lost, amounting to almost 30,000 gallons of crude oil.
By Monday, Shell spokespeople said inspectors found “no evidence” of an oil leak, but days later it was revealed that a breach did occur. Representatives with the US Coast Guard confirmed to Dow Jones on Thursday that roughly 50 barrels of oil spilled from a pipe near Houston, Texas and entered a waterway that connects to the Gulf of Mexico.
Coast Guard Petty Officer Steven Lehman said that Shell had dispatched clean-up crews that were working hard to correct any damage to Vince Bayou, a small waterway that runs for less than 20 miles from the Houston area into a shipping channel that opens into the Gulf.
The spill was contained, said Lehman, who was hesitant to offer an official number on how much crude was lost in the accident. According to Shell spokeswoman Kim Windon, though, the damage could have been quite significant. After being presented with the estimate that said as much as 700 barrels were found to have leaked from the pipeline due to an unknown cause, investigators determined that 60 barrels entered the bayou.
“That’s a very early estimate–things can change,” Officer Lehman told Dow Jones.
Meanwhile, though, rescue works in Arkansas have been getting their hands dirty responding to an emergency there. A rupture in ExxonMobil‘s Pegasus pipeline late last week send thousands of barrels of oil into the small town of Mayflower, around 25 miles outside of Little Rock. Authorities evacuated more than 20 homes in response, and by this Thursday roughly 19,000 barrels had been recovered.
Another incident in Canada this week caused an estimated 400 barrels — or roughly 16,800 gallons — of oil to be compromised in northern Ontario when a train derailed. Originally, Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd said only four barrels were lost in the accident.