This weekend, a confused elderly pastor will marshal his worldwide band of followers for judgment day while bored atheists plan theoretical good-riddance "Rapture parties" to mark the non-event. May 21st is shaping up to be quite a day even if 6 p.m. on Saturday doesn't mark a rolling apocalypse through every time zone.
As the Associated Press noted, there are now 175,000+ people in a sarcastically self-explanatory Facebook group called "Post Rapture Looting" where skeptics hoping to "pick up some sweet stereo equipment" will be able to presumably pillage at their leisure after Harold followers disappear into thin air. "It's not meant to be insulting, but come on, Christians are openly scoffing at this," said one quoted humanist organizer of a different, but still sarcastic, North Carolina event.
Other--ostensibly kind-hearted but merely just enterprising--atheists are looking to cash in on gullible Family Radio followers. Two weeks ago, the Washington Post noted a service called Eternal Earth-Bound Pets USA, which takes care of cats and dogs of Christians in the event of a sudden Rapture--for an upfront fee, naturally.
The exploits of the Family Radio broadcaster have mostly provoked amusement outside true believers. But it's too bad that when everyone is bored with the meme on May 23rd, there will be people out there who will have lost their life savings in anticipation of a lie. One retired subway worker who became infatuated with Camping's teachings spent $140,000 of his retirement on billboards to spread the news. When asked by the New York Post what he'd do when the world doesn't end he replied, "I don't want to think about it."
That response displayed the same stubborn determination as Camping has exhibited in numerous interviews. Except that Harold Camping isn't parting with his savings anytime soon. The broadcaster made this remark when asked whether he'd give his money away: "what's the point?" That's the most believable thing he's said yet.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.