Beliefnet
O Me of Little Faith

Having written a book about mankind’s obsession with the apocalypse (particularly the evangelical obsession with the rapture and second coming), you might think that I would not be surprised to learn of a weird rapture-related fringe business. Like when William Miller made a bunch of money in the 19th century selling white robes so everyone could be appropriately dressed when Jesus came back. Or like the website that will kindly send an email to your friends and family, post-rapture, to inform them why you will not be showing up for Thanksgiving this year.

But sometimes I really am surprised. And sometimes I am not at all sure whether this is a joke or not.

This is one of those times.

Pocket Guide friend Ken Grant, by way of Tim Stevens’ blog, alerted me this week to Eternal Earthbound Pets, a seemingly real business that will take care of your dog and cat (and fish and birds, too) should they be left behind by the rapture.

Oh, my. I hadn’t thought of that. But seriously, who will feed Precious once we enter eternal bliss? Would we want our paradise to be marred by thoughts of our little friends scavenging amid the chaotic wasteland we’ve escaped? Would we want them dodging all those unmanned vehicles with the “In case of rapture…” bumper stickers? No. We want them fed, comforted, and cared for in our absence.

Thank God for atheists. Oh, didn’t I mention? The nice folks behind this business are atheists. Which makes perfect sense, because they know for a fact that they will be left behind, post-rapture, seeing how — according to their FAQ page — “each of our representatives has stated to us in writing that they are atheists, do not believe in God/Jesus, and that they have blasphemed in accordance with Mark 3:29, negating any chance of salvation.”

That’s comforting to know that these are admitted atheists but certainly not the bad kind of atheists. They are fully trustworthy, because — again, from their FAQ — “being an atheist does not mean we lack morals or ethics. It just means we don’t believe in God or gods. All of our representatives are normal folks who love and live for their family, are gainfully employed, and have friends of varying beliefs….We fully endorse the “Rule of Reciprocity,” also known as “The Golden Rule.” We just happen not to believe in God(s).”

So the nice atheists promise to personally care for raptured Christians’ pets in loving homes, as long as these Christians agree to their terms and conditions, sign a contract, and pay them upfront. The cost is $110 for the first pet, with extras for additional pets in the same location. Paypal accepted! Buy now!

But first consider these philosophical questions:

1. By agreeing to this service, Christians will be putting themselves in a position where they have to hope for the eternal damnation of the person in charge of their pet’s well-being. Because what if the atheist assigned to your pet finds God, pre- or post-apocalypse? What then? What could be worse than the unexpected rapture of your End Times pet minders? Clearly you should pray against their salvation, for Fido’s sake. Right?

2. And sure, these atheists are trustworthy and upstanding citizens who follow the Rule of Reciprocity. But look at it from their perspective. They are asking you to pay them to carry out a theoretical future event that they do not believe will happen. In fact, they have staked their life and faith on the fact that the Rapture will not occur, that the whole belief system behind that idea is a human construct, and that there will be no actual reason for them to take in your dog. Ever. But they are asking you to pay them $110 for the peace of mind you receive via this contract. Which is fine. Providing peace of mind can be a legitimate service. Insurance agencies bet against having to do what they’ve promised all the time. But the atheists behind this business have no intention of having to fulfill the detailed contract they offer. Right?

So Eternal Earthbound Pets is a moral problem for Christians (based on #1), and an ethical problem for atheists (based on #2).

Which leads me to this conclusion: It is the most brilliant business model ever devised.

If it’s real, that is. I’m still not 100 percent sure.

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