The Y2K computer problem, once the exclusive concern of conspiracy mavens and Christians viewing it as a catalyst for the End Times, has now hit the mainstream. Print and broadcast media have taken up the cause, running numerous reports detailing the origins of the problem, the progress made in fixing it, and possible problems and chaos that could erupt should it not be adequately repaired.
There have been several announcements of Y2K tests run successfully, and most large corporations and public institutions in the United States seem on track to completing necessary repairs of vital computer functions by the end of 1999. Although some problems are expected as the calendar changes, most computer experts do not believe that there will be widespread chaos on January 1, 2000. Nevertheless, Y2K “doomers,” as alarmists sometimes term themselves, are far from convinced. On web sites, discussion lists, and bulletin boards, the survivalist drumbeat is continuous.
TV evangelists such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson have weighed in, with Falwell terming Y2K as possibly “God’s instrument to shake this nation, to humble this nation.” Gary North, a leading Y2K doomer and Christian Reconstructionist, in an April 24, 1999 posting on his web page, predicted widespread shortages of medicines, and claims that “it’s impossible for everyone to get through Y2K alive.” The Ark Institute calls food industry assurances that the food supply will be safe “magical thinking” and predicts dire food shortages by the year 2001.
Many Christians do actually look forward to whatever tributions Y2K will bring. While some concede that it likely is not a sure predictor of Christ’s return, Y2K is considered a catalyst for immense social, political, and spiritual change. Eugene Gross, of Third Day Ministry, has posted Y2K predictions on web pages and discussion lists, and believes Y2K will destroy “the two main gods of this civilization — money and technology,” bringing down “wicked” governments with them. The Remnant Living website (www.patriarch.com) predicts that only those who prepare and who accept Christ will be able to withstand the crisis and forge a new Christian society.
Law enforcement and other observers fear that a group or individual may use Y2k to provoke a genuine crisis that will cause mass hysteria. To this end many agencies have in place contingency plans should problems arise, plans which have prompted alarmists to assume that Martial Law will be declared and the New World Order will officially begin.
The truth is, of course, no one can predict what will happen on Jan. 1. The only certainty, as we creep closer to New Year’s Day, is that the next few months will be of great interest to religion watchers.