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The Y2K crisis that never happened: Part 3

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Continued from Part 2 of this topic

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Panic about the millennium -- among conservative Christians:

Many Fundamentalist and other Evangelical Christian authors wrote books which attempt to raise public consciousness (some would say hysteria) about the Y2K problem and the arrival of the Millennium. These include:

bullet S.C. Feldhahn, "Y2K: The Millennium Bug," Multnomah, (1998). Read reviews or safely order this book from Amazon.com

bullet J. Gregori, Ed., "What Will Become of Us? Counting down to Y2K," Academic Freedom Fdn., (1008) Review/Order this book

bullet M. Hyatt & G. Grant, "Y2K: The day the world shut down," Word Publ., (1998). A novel.  Review/Order this book

bullet G.R. Jeffries, "The Millennium Meltdown: The year 2000 computer crisis," Frontier Research, (1998). Review/Order this book

bullet Shaunti Feldhahn was a Federal Reserve analyst, and the author of "Y2K: The Millennium Bug -- A Balanced Christian Response" She polled fellow Christians and found that about:

bullet 60% were taking no action about the millennium.

bullet 25% were making active preparations or were planning to start soon.

bullet 10% were actively opposed to any preparation,. They often quote Matthew 6:25 in which Christ tells people to not worry about the future.

bullet A few percent adopted an extreme survivalist position. 1,2

Leaders in promoting Y2K concern were Fundamentalist Christians James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Grant Jeffries, Jack Van Impe, Hal Lindsey, Gary North, and Pat Robertson. Their teachings continued to be highly alarmist even as the end of 1999 approached. At that time, evidence was generally known that industry, government and commerce were on target to prevent any disruptions from the various computer bugs before 2000-JAN-1. 

As of 2000-DEC-30, Gary North's web site was still accessible, apparently in its pre-2000 form "with what one journalist labels 'its laughable predictions of global chaos.' " 3,8 During 2001, the web site was removed. The essay is still available on some mirror sites.  Most of the other alarmist webmasters and authors had long since counted their profits on the way to the bank, perhaps chuckling at how easy it was to make so much money by engender panic among conservative Christians.

The end result of alarmist publications was needless, widespread hysteria among Christian believers, and a great deal of profit in the pockets of the authors. Some commentators stated that conservative Christians deserved more responsible treatment from their leadership. One Evangelical commented "If the money changers of Jesus' time lived today, they would probably be selling Y2K supplies."

We suspect that some individuals involved in the panic may have continued to write books -- this time about the end of the world in 2012. When that date passes, they will probably create a new date for some type of disaster.

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The potential for violence:

Some commentators predicted possible violence, both short term and longer term:

bullet FBI director Louis Freeh warned on 1999-FEB-4 that: "With the coming of the next millennium, some religious/apocalyptic groups or individuals may turn to violence as they seek to achieve dramatic effects to fulfill their prophecies." He also talked about another disturbing religious trend:  "Many white supremacist groups adhere to the Christian Identity belief system, which holds that the world is on the verge of a final apocalyptic struggle... and teaches that the white race is the chosen race of God." He warned that in late 1999, some Christian Identity members might prepare for their anticipated Armageddon by committing robberies to finance their activities. The government, Jews and non-whites are said to be likely targets. 4 These fears did not materialize.

bullet Some saw a remote potential of longer term violence in North America, starting perhaps around 2002. Large numbers of people expected the end of the world and the return of Christ in the year 2000, or 2001. The world continued as normal, and there was massive disappointment, affecting tens of millions of Christians. There was concern that some might have been terribly disillusioned, and would start searching for reasons why the end times did not happen. There was the possibility that some religious leaders might return to preaching a widespread belief that was promoted in the 19th century: that Jesus' second coming is being delayed until many more people are converted to Christianity. Those same leaders might point to the rise in popularity among minority religions, the rise of secularism, and the decline of Christianity in North America as a major factor that delayed Christ's return. The result might have been violence by a very small percentage of Christians directed against small religious groups in North America: Jews, Muslims, followers of the New Age, Wiccans, other Neopagans, Atheists, Agnostics, Deists, etc. There might also have been the possibility of Christians turning against their own leaders and groups who had raised end-time anticipation to a fever pitch. We might have seen a replication of the events in the year 1000 when many disillusioned people in Western Europe attacked the established church. Again, these concerns did not materialize.

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Confidence in the Millennium

There were signs during 1999 that some are viewing the Millennium as an unremarkable event:

bullet There was a rise of rational belief, that the year 2,000 is simply a year that has three zeros. i.e. it is in no way special. After all, if humans had been born with 8 fingers on each hand, then our numbering system would be based on 16 (hexadecimal), not 10 (decimal). And our year 2,000 would then just be year 8D0 in hexadecimal. Nothing special; just another year with an unremarkable number.

bullet Harvard professor of zoology and geology Stephen Jay Gould pointed out that the word millennium was originally a Biblical apocalyptic term linked to the second coming of Jesus. It is evolving into a matter-of-fact designation for the end of a 1000 year period. "The basic reason for 'millennium' switching from a description of the future to a counting in the present stems from the failure of this expected future to materialize." 5
 
bullet Michael R LeGault, a journal editor and reviewer of science books noted:  "The millennial message would appear to be that knowledge based on experience has won out over knowledge based on doctrine...this knowledge is a record of both our intellectual and moral progress. And that only in rational pursuit and use of this knowledge is our physical, emotional and spiritual well-being ensured." 6

bullet The banking industry had been working on the Y2K problem for years. The problem first materialized for them when they started issuing mortgages in the 1970's which matured in the 21st century. Since then, they have had to modify their computer code to handle credit card expiry dates in the year 2000 and beyond. They took the Y2K problem in stride.

bullet Large companies had also been working on this problem for many years and were in good shape when the year 2000 arrived.

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Continue with Part 4 of this topic

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References:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today. In fact, many date from the infancy of the Internet and have probably disappeared long ago.

  1. Shaunti Feldhahn, "Y2K: The Millennium Bug -- A Balanced Christian Response" Multinornah Publ., (1998) Read a review or buy this book
  2. "Y2K authors still advising Christians to prepare," Baptist Press. Online at Maranatha Christian Journal, at: http://www.mcjonline.com/news/news3408.htm
  3. "Midnight of the 'real' millennium approaches: Less hoopla, panic -- but 'end times' cultural angst still in vogue," AANEWS, 2000-DEC-29  
  4. Patricia Wilson, "FBI Director Freeh Warns of Millennium Violence," Excite News/Reuters, 1999-FEB-4.
  5. June Bearzi, "Millennium computer fear is a scam," The Star, 1997-AUG-4, at: http://www2.inc.co.za/Archives/Jan97toAug97/
  6. R. Chandrasekaran and S. Barr, "Major U.S. firms, agencies seem to have Y2K bug well in hand," Detroit News, at: http://detnews.com/1999/technology/9901/02/01020106.htm

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Copyright © 1998 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2011-AUG-16
Author: B.A. Robinson

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