Thanks to the Pew Research Center, we now may have an idea who is buying up all those “Left Behind” books. Many of them appear to be … Democrats?

Yes, that’s right. As part of a larger survey about Americans’ predictions for the next 40 years, just over 1,500 people were asked whether they thought that Jesus Christ would return to the earth during that timeframe. Interestingly enough, it is self-identified Democrats who appear to have more certitude that this will happen than Republicans.

According to the poll, 26% of Democrats believe that the Second Coming “will definitely” happen within the next four decades. In comparison 19% of Republicans believe this.

Among those who think Jesus will probably return to earth in 40 years, there are more GOPers than Democrats. Just under a quarter (24%) of Republicans believe this will happen compared to 18% of Democrats who predict this. Independents are least likely compared to members of both parties to believe in Jesus’ imminent return.

By the way, the partisan breakdown on this question was not in the general report on the Center’s website. The info above was emailed to me in response to a question I had after spotting an item by New York Times columnist Charles Blow on a group that is rarely mentioned in by America’s journalists, the religious left:

According to a Gallup report issued last Friday, church attendance among blacks is exactly the same as among conservatives and among Republicans. Hispanics closely follow. Furthermore, a February Gallup report found that blacks and Hispanics, respectively, were the most likely to say that religion was an important part of their daily lives. In fact, on the Jesus question, nonwhite Democrats were roughly twice as likely as white Democrats to believe that He would return to earth by 2050. Add to this the fact that, according to the 2009 Gallup report, 20 percent of the Democratic Party is composed of highly religious whites who attend church once a week or more, and you quickly stop second-guessing the Second Coming numbers. Welcome to the Religious Left, which will continue to grow as the percentage of minorities in the country and in the party grows. People often ask whether the Republican Party will have to move to the left to remain viable. However, the question rarely asked is whether the growing religiosity on the left will push the Democrats toward the right.

Kudos to Blow for looking beyond the press release and pondering a question that no doubt is uncomfortable for many a secular Democrat. There is bound to be a significant amount of tension between the more secular white Democrats and the more religious non-white Democrats in the years to come, especially as minority Democratic politicians emerge as political powerhouses of their own without help from the mostly white union and current Democratic leadership structures.

A tip of the hat also to the must-read blog Secular Right for bringing the Blow column to my attention.