O Me of Little Faith

O Me of Little Faith

The Orphans of Left Behind?

rapture.jpgHere we go again. About a year ago, I learned of an atheist named Bart who was offering a service to Christians: Bart figured he’d be left behind by the rapture, should it actually occur, even though he didn’t believe in it at all. And if it did occur, wouldn’t it leave behind a bunch of unfed pets? An animal lover, Bart created a service called Eternal Earthbound Pets and turned it into a legitimate business. For a contractual fee, he and his team of fellow nontheistic animal lovers promise to care for your pets after you get raptured.

You can read my take on Eternal Earthbound Pets here, along with Part 1 and Part 2 of my interview with Bart.

No doubt inspired by the pets thing, another anonymous atheist has worked out a plan that pulls even harder on “left behind” fears: what about my kids? Rapture Orphan Rescue promises not only to feed and clothe your unraptured children but to share the plan of salvation with them so you can see them again in Heaven.

I am not making this up.

Basic witness-to-my-left-behind-child plans start at $195. A full-fledged home invasion “Omega Program” tops out at $4,995.

Thoughts and comments:

Like Eternal Earthbound Pets, this service is being provided by atheists, which is what really complicates the business. If the rapture happens, these nonbelievers will most assuredly be left behind. But they don’t believe there will be a rapture, so they are asking you to pay up front for a service they expect to never have to perform. These entrepreneurs make it clear that they think “you are about to waste your money.” They write:

Rapture Orphan Rescue would like to directly confront the potential
customer’s beliefs. We think that you should not pay anyone for any
faith-based service. This includes faith-healing, intercessory prayer,
potions, televangelism, tithes for whatever purpose including THIS WEBSITE. By even considering our website’s service, you are implicitly making a bet with us: that you are right and we are wrong.
This bet is actually more like an insurance-policy, but before you go
forward with any monetary transaction, we would like to at least make
the case as to why we think you are wrong in your worldview…

(emphasis theirs)

Then they go on to attempt to disprove the rapture on biblical grounds (regardless of your beliefs about the existence or non-existence of God). I’m all kinds of conflicted about this business, but I appreciate their honesty here. And for what it’s worth, they do a nice job with a quick but logical debunking of rapture theology.

I thought the pets thing was sorta funny, because if you really do believe in the rapture and it really does happen, your dogs and cats and fish will most certainly be left behind. And that might be enough cause for a pet owner to worry. It’s not a business I would ever engage in, but I can see it providing actual peace of mind for end-times enthusiasts. But promising to care for human children goes beyond the cleverness of the pet-protection scenario and pings my ick radar. Because we’re not talking about pets anymore, but people.

There’s another dilemma here — a pretty significant flaw in the reasoning behind the business: Most rapture-believing Christians expect their children to be raptured along with them. Whether the kids are officially “saved” or not, their parents likely believe in an “age of accountability” at which point children will be responsible for their own beliefs and relationship with God — but infants and young children most certainly have not yet reached this theoretical age. Which means they expect the grace of God to “cover” them, in terms of salvation. Thus, a loving God wouldn’t leave any babies or young children behind in the event of a rapture. God’s already in the business of rescuing orphans, it seems, and he does it for free.

And while I’m certainly a capitalist and rarely fault anyone for finding a way to make money by meeting a legitimate need, the ethics of this kind of thing leave me cold. Yes, life insurance companies make money by betting against the odds that you won’t die in the next 20 years. And Rapture Orphan Rescue is betting that the rapture won’t happen and they won’t have to perform their promised services. The difference is that the insurance companies know that people actually will die — their services will eventually be needed, at some point, by someone who is paying them. On the contrary, the Rapture Orphan Rescue folks expect they won’t have to do anything. Ever. But having tried to talk you out of it on their website, if you’re still interested, they will take your money anyway.

Think of it this way: It’s as if we lived in a world where people were all immortal — a world without death — but a life insurance company sprung up and started writing policies for deluded people who thought they were about to die, even though the company knew they were wrong.

So I’ll ask the same question that Hemant Mehta asked his readers:

Religious beliefs aside, is this ethical?


Update: I’ve been in touch today with the guy behind the business and we’re planning an interview. What should I ask? Feel free to submit any question…


Comments read comments(21)
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posted August 3, 2010 at 10:31 am

Business is business, however the ethical question is about accountability. Businesses are founded on relational accountability. Here there is no way to hold the business accountable for the service they are providing no matter what you believe. It is a religious Ponzi scheme at best, at worst it is a predatory scam. There is a difference between meeting an unmet need and preying on someone’s fears.

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posted August 3, 2010 at 10:34 am

On another note, this only shows how small of a box they put God in.

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Brian Westley

posted August 3, 2010 at 11:16 am

“There is a difference between meeting an unmet need and preying on someone’s fears.”
I’d say Rapture Orphan Rescue is trying to make the same point about religion…

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posted August 3, 2010 at 11:44 am

I’d heard about the pet thing before, but not here. I’ll have to go back & read your take on it.
Ethical/unethical? I guess i don’t have an opinion on that. They state very clearly they don’t think you should spend your money that way. I wonder if they have any takers?
If they do, & with the pet thing too, it would make me seriously question the beliefs of the folks who choose to have such a “service.” It would say to me that the people using such a service don’t really trust the God they claim to worship.
We don’t have children, tho we very much want them (the reasons for no children are long & involved), but i do have 2 cats. It hurts me beyond reason to think of my cats trapped in our house & starving. However, God promises to provide all of our needs & that he cares about the things that concern us. I simply have to trust that if rapture occurs, he will provide for the details. (I also have serious questions about the atheists involved doing any of the promised things. If such an event occurs, the world will be in turmoil & taking care of my pets will be the last thing on their minds.)
I do think that this is playing into the fear of people & as such is rather despicable. But if people are willing to allow their fear to rule & not trust God, then (i know i should have more compassion) i don’t have much to say in their defense. I don’t really differentiate between the pets & kids. I think they are on equal footing of something almost certainly not likely to happen & someone getting money for nothing. Ethical? No, but folks will be duped out of their money all the time. If i spent thousands of $$ on this, i would be ashamed to stand before the Lord knowing i didn’t trust him to take care of this.
I guess i don’t think these people could be in business if it weren’t for folks who don’t really walk the faith they claim.

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posted August 3, 2010 at 11:45 am

I have a much better idea. Rapture Serum Injections!
Think about this for a moment. One doesn’t become a Christian overnight. Recent Super Secret Government research has shown that under intense training processes (brainwashing) some complex molecular changes gradually take place in the trainee’s bloodstream over a number of years. Bodily changes are minor and less apparent. It is believed that these new chemicals intensify the trainee’s belief in the material being taught, which in the Christian training case is that the trainee will have an intense belief in the existence of God. According to Christian doctrine, an intense belief in the existence of God is the only requirement to get into Heaven or to meet the Rapture’s approval.
Government Scientists have been identifying some of these chemicals, but actual details are Super Secret because of the potential danger of falling into the hands of Terrorist Organizations. Now is the time for us Atheists to prepare to reap huge profits, not next month or next year, because WikiLeaks will release the information before we know it.
What this cutting-edge research means is that it will be possible to draw and store blood serum from Strong Believing (SB) or Born Again (BA) Christians and store it in cryogenic containers in underground vaults. Then, after the Rapture has come, surviving Atheists can retrieve and inject the SB or BA blood serum into the donors’ non-believing friends, children, relatives, and pets! This process will leave nothing to chance.
What I’ve learned so far about the Government’s research is that the mind and body altering process of brainwash is not totally unlike the mind and body altering process of Methamphetamine. The primary difference is that Methamphetamine is thousands of times more potent than brainwash and can be highly destructive to mind and body with even a few injections. On the other hand, brainwash requires years to safely alter the mind, and it minimally disfigures the body.
My fellow Atheist friends, now is the time to act, not next month or next year. We need to get this Rapture Serum Injection process developed and patented before the Chinese beat us to the punch.

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posted August 3, 2010 at 11:49 am

The way I see it, these people are already being scammed by whatever religious organization it is that makes them believe rapture is imminent, and that alone can affect their life choices. I don’t find that ethical, and I don’t find this ethical, but then again, I’m not a capitalist and I don’t find many businesses entirely ethical.
I see this as a business model that exploits vulnerable people. You could make money off of mentally ill people by offering some service that might alleviate their fears, but you’d be treading on a thin line as far as ethics are concerned. Say, by offering bodyguard services to paranoid schizophrenics. Would that be ethical? I’d say no.

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Your Name

posted August 3, 2010 at 12:07 pm

I think what’s more terrible than the business itself is that people are falling for it.
What incentive do the business owners have to follow through on their word? Who will hold them accountable?

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posted August 3, 2010 at 12:08 pm

This might just rank as the most capitalisticly amazing business ever. I’m sharing it for sure. I love how they frame it as a bet too… they know their target customers and their belief in “rightness.”
-Marshall Jones Jr.

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Jonathan Chang

posted August 3, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Dang it, why are all the good money making ideas always taken?
I kind of feel like the Rapture Orphan Services is like Pay Day Lenders. Taking people’s money and owning them.

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matt g

posted August 3, 2010 at 3:06 pm

Isn’t it negligent for any rapture-believing parent not to have a policy with these guys? I’m hearing a lot of criticism, but seriously, what about the kids?

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shawn smucker

posted August 3, 2010 at 4:20 pm

hmmm. i guess it depends on how you look at it. are they taking in orphans . . . or adopting children? because if they’re adopting, then they should be the ones paying out. and i’m willing to provisionally omega adopt my kids to them for a small fee.

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posted August 3, 2010 at 4:22 pm

The whole Rapture thing is unethical anyway. Why would I want to be raptured and leave all my non-Christian friends and relatives behind to face all kinds of horrible stuff without me? How cowardly is that!
And yes I know we don’t get the choice, but that’s unethical too.
So if you’re listening, Jesus, I want to be left behind, OK? (No problem – it’ll probably happen that way anyway; I’m pretty sure I’m a heretic!)

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Jason Boyett

posted August 3, 2010 at 4:22 pm

@matt g:
Ethics aside, I think that’s the basic problem with this business idea. I know a lot of rapture-believing parents. I’ve written a book about end-times fanatics. And I don’t know any of them who think young children will be left behind, whether these kids have had an official salvation experience or not. The idea of universal salvation up until an “age of accountability” is not expressly stated in the Bible (of course, neither is the rapture), but it’s pervasive in evangelical pop culture. Which is where most of the rapture theology resides, too.

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posted August 3, 2010 at 5:19 pm

From looking at the web site it seems to me that this is more about making a statement than making a profit. But when you wrap your message in something like “Rapture Orphan Rescue” you are much more likely to get people to talk about your message.

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Headless Unicorn Guy

posted August 4, 2010 at 9:50 am

“What a town, huh?”
— NY cop after someone tried to carjack his marked police car
“People are people, and the world is filled with tricks and twistiness yet undreamed of.”
— One of The Whole Earth Catalogs
“Stupidity is like hydrogen — it’s the basic building block of the universe.”
— Either Frank Zappa or Harlan Ellison
“There’s a sucker born every minute.”
— P.T.Barnum

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posted August 5, 2010 at 6:27 am

There is a lot of ambiguity around the logical conclusions of what some of those biblical verses infer and I’m glad that that the website is putting it out there for consideration. I grew up in a fundamentalist religious environment where even babies and folks with cognitive deficits wouldn’t make the grade if they did not say or believe the traditional Christian formula that Jesus is lord.
It might be confronting but at least one get’s to see the ugliness of what is apparent to most everyone else who find themselves outside of the strict definitions of what constitutes a Christian.

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C. Michael Pilato

posted August 5, 2010 at 10:57 am

Will someone please register Bart’s email address with the fine folks at so he has some advance notice of the influx of pets and children he’ll be expected to care for? Thanks.

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posted August 5, 2010 at 3:08 pm

To C. Michael Pilato:
Please note: Eternal Earth-Bound Pets and I, are not in any way asociated with “Rapture Orphan Rescue.” This should be evident by careful reading of the above article.
Thank you.
Bart Centre
creator/co-owner EE-BP

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Jason Boyett

posted August 5, 2010 at 3:24 pm

Yes, just to echo what Bart said. I thought it was clear in the post, but maybe not.
Eternal Earth-Bound Pets and Rapture Orphan Rescue are NOT the same thing. They are NOT created or owned by the same people. The new orphan/rapture business probably got the idea from Bart and the pets, but these are totally different entities and people.
Hey, Bart! Haven’t heard from you in awhile.

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C. Michael Pilato

posted August 6, 2010 at 10:16 am

Oops. Carelessly quick reading slammed through the meat grinder of sarcasm. mea culpa.

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posted August 6, 2010 at 9:11 pm

Yes, sorry, been busy. Those rapture believing pet loving folks are pretty demanding; and working on my next book.
Glad to see you still stirring the pot ;)

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