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It’s The End of The World as They Know It, and Atheists Feel Fine

By YONAT SHIMRON
c. 2011 Religion News Service

(RNS) Harold Camping’s campaign to warn Christians that the rapture is coming on Saturday (May 21) may have won him a band of followers, especially among those who have reportedly quit jobs or used up their life savings.

But Camping’s acolytes may pale in comparison to the number of atheists and agnostics who are outraged — and perhaps a little amused — by the California radio evangelist’s predictions that Christians are about to be swept up to glory.

Recognizing an opportunity, unbelieving Americans are using Camping’s doomsday scenario to host rapture parties, fundraisers, and conventions to raise awareness of their views. In America’s hotly contested religious marketplace, atheists know an opportunity when they see one.

Or, as David Silverman, president of American Atheists put it, to “call out the stupid.”

“When we heard the date, it was out of my mouth immediately: `We should have a party!”‘ said Geri Weaver, president of Central North Carolina Atheists and Humanists in Fayetteville, N.C.

Weaver’s group recently formed as a chapter of the American Humanist Association, and members were looking for the right moment to host a “coming out party.” Camping’s “Judgment Day” campaign seemed the perfect pretext.

The timing also helped Weaver’s group get atheist rapper Greydon Square for a “Rapture RAP-Up” event on Sunday, following the group’s “Rapture After Party” Saturday.

The idea that atheists are using May 21 for their own purposes doesn’t surprise Allison Warden, a Camping follower who, with the help of family and friends, built a website, wecanknow.com, to support the doomsday prediction.

“Some of the things they’re doing is a fulfillment of prophesy,” she said. “They’ve persecuted Christians in this way before. Believers can expect similar treatment.”

The biggest atheist event will kick off Saturday in Oakland, Calif., where organizers are hosting a two-day West Coast Rapture RAM, or Regional Atheist Meet, with speakers, stand-up comedy acts, maybe even “de-baptism” events.

Atheist groups in Houston and Fort Lauderdale are planning similar events.

Rapture party invitations have been multiplying on Facebook and other social media sites. One website posted recipe drinks “to die for.” Others are finding campy constructions to get the word out: “Party like there’s no tomorrow,” and “one HELL of a party,” are just a few examples.

Some of these events are hosted by church-going Christians, the majority of whom find no support for Camping’s predictions. Robert Fischer, a second-year student at the Duke Divinity School in Durham, N.C., is one of them.

The idea, Fischer said, is to “get friends together, enjoy ourselves and deal with the here-and-now, not with fear-mongering hypotheticals.”

But it’s the secularists who see the biggest windfall from the doomsday prognosticators.

Less than 5 percent of Americans say they don’t believe in God, according to a study by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. But America’s fastest-growing belief group is Americans who say they have no faith — doubling in the past decade to 16 percent of the population, according to the same survey.

Various groups would love to claim those unaffiliated Americans. For atheists, working as a foil to extremist beliefs has been an effective way to capitalize on people’s dissatisfaction with religion.

Rapture parties are the perfect time to “ridicule and poke fun at the fools,” said Silverman of American Atheists.

Others, however, would like to do so without gloating.

“We’re trying to raise awareness of the danger of the thing,” said Sean Gillespie, president of the group Air Capital Skeptics in Wichita, Kansas. “There are people who are going to believe they’ve been left behind Saturday. We’re going to have discussions about the history of these doomsday cults because we’ve seen this before, and we want to prevent these people from joining those groups.”



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Dan Watson

posted May 18, 2011 at 4:56 pm


Yeah Rapture. Now we can all live in peace!



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Grumpy Old Person

posted May 18, 2011 at 5:22 pm


Re: “predictions that Christians are about to be swept up to glory”

Good riddance to bad rubbish, say I. The world will be a far better place without hate-mongering “Christians”.



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pagansister

posted May 18, 2011 at 7:11 pm


With them gone, there will be more room for me and mine. That’s no problem. :o)



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Henrietta22

posted May 18, 2011 at 7:56 pm


The radical Christians who quit their jobs…..will they get them back on monday or try collecting unemployment?



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b-man

posted May 18, 2011 at 8:22 pm


I’m a Christian. I understand the ridicule and the negative feelings, and it makes me sad that these folks have somehow co-opted my faith and given the rest of us a bad name.



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Mordred08

posted May 18, 2011 at 9:55 pm


The rapture is coming? Looks like the “Left Behind” books I collected back when I was young and stupid will pay off after all. It’s gonna be rough at first, what with the casualties caused by Christians driving cars and flying planes suddenly disappearing (which is rather rude of them, really). But as long as we don’t elect an Eastern European with a funny name president of the world, we should be safe.



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Heretic_for_Christ

posted May 18, 2011 at 11:45 pm


b-man,
I am not a Christian, but I appreciate your comment. I have long maintained that it is the responsibility of rational people of faith — all faiths — to expose the fanatics among them, to marginalize them, to reveal them as benighted cranks who bring shame upon true faith.



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cknuck

posted May 19, 2011 at 12:00 am


no man knows the hour



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Danny Haszard

posted May 19, 2011 at 12:49 am


Armageddon-ain’t-a-coming-so-im-a-getting-outta-here…
Jehovah’s Witnesses do is they intrude door to door with an obnoxious false (1914) Gospel of Watchtower cult doctrines.This has the effect of turning off (stumbling) potential converts to the real Gospel.
*Wolves in Sheep’s clothing*[Matthew 7:16]

I would not want to be in their place on the REAL Judgement day!
Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte; and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves” (Matt 23:15)

Jehovah Witnesses reckless predictions of the (1914) (1975)….. second coming of Christ hardens skeptics in their unbelief and provides new fodder for cynics to mock the Christian faith.
Armageddon-ain’t-a-coming-so-im-a-getting-outta-here…



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Danny Haszard

posted May 19, 2011 at 2:24 am


Jehovah’s Witnesses dates

1884 was originally set by Charles Russell as the end of the Gentile times. 1914 was actually predicted as the start of Armageddon. When Armageddon did not happen in 1914, the date was set one year forward to 1915.

Nothing happened again and so after Charles Russell died in 1916, 1914 was set as the start of the gentile times and 1884 dropped altogether. Then the next Watchtower president JF Rutherford predicted the end in 1925 and after that 1941. The end was predicted once more by the Watchtower organization in 1975. Since then the *end* has been imminent for the last 35 years.

The Watchtower used not only 1975.

The Watchtower has predicted “the end” to happen in 1874, 1914, 1925, 1942, 1975, and before the end of the 20th century. These predictions are in Watch Tower documents and were part of Watch Tower doctrine. People that follow the Watchtower continue to believe the minimizing, workarounds, and denials of these dates.



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Georgia Dude

posted May 19, 2011 at 7:38 am


Nobody knows when the world will comee to an end, but it will happened. This planet cannot sustain itself after all of these supposedly millions of years. We are going to run out of resources, that’s a fact of life. Anyway. That’s my story. God still loves the atheists and the pagans, inspite of their lack of understanding and faith. Yes. There is a state of Montana event thought I have never been there.



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Yvonne

posted May 19, 2011 at 9:30 am


It’s very alarming to see the uproar of the day the rapture comes and there are so many that are concerned of so many pointless issues. Yes the Word of God does say no man knows the day or the hour, that two would be in the field plowing and one will go up and the other left behind, that we will be changed in the twinkling of an eye. These words are important because we want to be in a relationship with Jesus as the Father commands, so that while we’re here on earth, that continual interaction with our Lord will keep us in peace whose mind is stayed on Him. When the time comes those who are tarrying for His return while being occupied with being good stewards will be ready, and those who are not ready will have to go through much more tribulations then they could imagine, for then the Holy Spirit will absolutley be restrained and therefore no longer will there be constraints of the evil hearts of man. As a disciple of Christ BE READY WHEN JESUS COMES.



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Sarah

posted May 19, 2011 at 11:31 am


“Some of the things they’re doing is a fulfillment of prophesy,” she said. “They’ve persecuted Christians in this way before. Believers can expect similar treatment.”

How is holding a party to celebrate a belief different from your own “persecution”? These people have NO idea what persecution even means. Let me give you a hint… you are not being persecuted simply because someone disagrees with you, and it’s an insult to everyone who actually HAS suffered persecution when you play the victim for so petty and inconsequential a reason. Get over yourselves and do something constructive for ACTUAL victims of persecution- it would be “christian” thing to do, after all.



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Henrietta22

posted May 19, 2011 at 1:30 pm


B-man nobody has ruined our Christian faith, they have just blighted it themselves for themselves, ignore them.



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MH

posted May 19, 2011 at 4:03 pm


Georgia Dude, the planet is fine and will remain fine for billions of years to come. It’s only human industrial civilization that is impacted by resource depletion.

The atheists I know are amused, not outraged by rapture day.



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pagansister

posted May 19, 2011 at 4:26 pm


Absolutely right, cknuck, no one knows the hour, not ever those who worship the holy prediction book—and all of those have been so wrong in the past. This planet my one day cease to be, but it isn’t going to be caused by a dude in the sky. I’ve got places to be on the 21st, this Saturday, so I’m not changing my life because of the idiots doing the current prediction.



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cknuck

posted May 19, 2011 at 6:49 pm


Sarah, Christians do wonderful things for people, victims of persecution you probably seldom think about wonderfully constructive things. What are you doing other than spouting off?
pagan I doubt seriously if you know anything about the end or how/when it will come about, I appreciate your ignorance about “a dude in the sky” thanks for sharing.



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pagansister

posted May 19, 2011 at 8:10 pm


Right you are, cknuck. I don’t really know anything other than the predictions written by the folks in the Bible, & and as I don’t care about the predictions, I don’t worry about them. Besides as I said above–with all those folks getting raptured, there will be more room here.:o) And it might be a “female” in the sky—no one really knows, huh? (except you I suppose).



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cknuck

posted May 19, 2011 at 8:54 pm


I’d like to make more room for you and your bunch pagan, I’ve already stated “no one knows” remember? So no I have never claimed to know although I am happy that you, no matter what, can get what you want out of the end.



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pagansister

posted May 20, 2011 at 12:08 pm


Who knows, cknuck, maybe we’ll finally meet tomorrow? :o)



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Henrietta22

posted May 20, 2011 at 1:05 pm


If adults want to act radically and give up their jobs, homes, etc., that’s their choice, but what it is doing to their children is boardering on abuse I think. One of these families are in an article on MSNBC. The fourteen yr. old, and older teen siblings are worried about their college tuitions now that their mom has quit her job, and they are being dragged around the city with the parents giving out bibles. The fourteen yr. old says he doesn’t feel like doing anything anymore because his family has no base. The mother says she hopes her children will make it into heaven, but it is God’s will! Maybe God’s will will have authorities take her kids to a more sane place to live if they continue their nutty behavior.



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pagansister

posted May 20, 2011 at 4:54 pm


H22: Can you say the parents are slightly off their rockers? The kids may wonder when they wake up on the 22nd why they are still here? Did their parents lie—or are they just NUTS! I think it is both.



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pagansister

posted May 21, 2011 at 1:20 pm


It’s 1:19 PM, May 21, 2011 and I’m still here—-what time is this all going to happen again?? :o)



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cknuck

posted May 21, 2011 at 3:34 pm


pagan is that your na na da na na to an insane person?



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Julie

posted May 21, 2011 at 4:05 pm


Well, looks like I’m still doing my exams.



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pagansister

posted May 21, 2011 at 6:59 pm


Well, looks like some one read the book incorrectly again. 6:00 PM has come and gone and we’re all still here—at least I am. Are you?

Yes, cknuck—hadn’t thought of that, but I guess it is! :o)

Here’s to the skeptics who WERE correct! We’re just tooo smart for our own good.



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MH

posted May 21, 2011 at 9:14 pm


Pagansister, well you lucked out then. Around here it’s like a cross between an H.P. Lovecraft novel and a George Romero film. Thank goodness for my well stocked Y2K bunker which has a generator and satellite internet access.



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jestrfyl

posted May 23, 2011 at 2:05 pm


Oops, Camping’s rapture ruptured!



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pagansister

posted May 24, 2011 at 7:18 pm


And now he thinks it is Oct. 21—WHAT? He is a stubborn old coot, but what is unfortunate is some will again believe him!



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garrett

posted June 29, 2011 at 1:26 pm


That’s pretty much the same thing Richard Dawkins explains in his article
There is no God. He also points out how so many “believers” seem to hope for the end of the world. What a grim and sad thought.



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