A belief that the end of this world as we know it is at hand and that in its wake will appear a fertile, harmonious, sanctified, and just new world in which Christ will reign. At the time of the present world's demise, it is supposed that all Christians will partake in the "Rapture", or the elevation of the human body to the heavens. Millennialism as such is further divided into two belief systems, pre-millennialism and post-millennialism, each of which carry a different interpretation of what the Millennium will bring.
Although the term millennarianism derives from the Christian tradition, it can incorporate the ideas of almost any religion as well as those of secular ideology -- for which reason the term chiliasm is preferred by some. As such it can include any belief that the end of the world is at hand and that a New World will appear in its wake that will be just and harmonious.
Christian Identity is the unifying theology for a number of diverse groups and one widely adhered to by white supremacists. It is a belief system that provides its members with a religious basis for racism and an ideology that condones violence against non-Aryans. This doctrine allows believers to fuse religion with hate, conspiracy theories, and apocalyptic fear of the future. Christian Identity-inspired millennialism has a distinctly racist tinge in the belief that Armageddon will be a race war of Aryans against Jews and non-whites. The potential difficulty society may face due to the Y2K computer glitch is considered by a number of Christian Identity adherents to be the perfect event upon which to instigate a race war.
Approximately 30 million American adults hold Millennialist tenets. Although the majority are proclaimed pre-millennialists, many waver between the pre-millennialist and post-millennialist belief systems.
Militia anxiety and paranoia specifically relating to the year 2000 are based mainly on a political ideology, as opposed to religious beliefs. Many militia members believe that the year 2000 will lead to political and personal repression enforced by the United Nations and countenanced by a compliant U.S. government. This belief is commonly known as the New World Order (NWO) conspiracy theory.
The Aum Shinriko movement's rapid evolution in Japan in the 1990s followed the same pattern as that of previous millenarian movements but with much greater rapidity. Furthermore, instead of only believing passively in the imminent end of civilization, they took active steps to bring this about with the use of weapons of mass destruction (sarin and botulism). These could have triggered the worst civil defence crisis experienced by any developed country.
Millennialist beliefs incite fanaticism, paranoia and exclusivism. Throughout history fanatics have heralded the end of the world, only to live through the contradiction to their claim. Alarmist notions defeat the purpose of thoughtful discussion and realistic problem solving.