Is the Rapture Here Yet…? May 11, 2011

Is the Rapture Here Yet…?

The Washington Post On Faith moderators sent this question to all the panelists this week:

Radio evangelist Harold Camping believes that he has calculated the exact date of the rapture: May 21, 2011. While many are laughing at the suggestion, Camping’s followers are taking him seriously, bringing his message of impending doom to billboards and public spaces around the country. ??What does your tradition teach about the end of the world? How does end time theology impact real world behavior?

The question itself lends a bit of credibility to what Camping is doing and, because of that, Richard Dawkins ripped the blog and the whole premise a new one. It is *fun* to read:

Why is a serious newspaper like the Washington Post giving space to a raving loon? I suppose the answer must be that, unlike the average loon, this one has managed to raise enough money to launch a radio station and pay for billboards. I don’t know where he gets the money, but it would be no surprise to discover that it is contributed by gullible followers — gullible enough, we may guess, to go along with him when he will inevitably explain, on May 22nd, that there must have been some error in the calculation, the rapture is postponed to… and please send more money to pay for updated billboards.

So, the question becomes, why are there so many well-heeled, gullible idiots out there? Why is it that an idea can be as nuts as you like and still con enough backers to finance its advertising to acquire yet more backers… until eventually a national newspaper notices and makes it into a silly season filler?

And we haven’t even gotten to what Dawkins says about “tradition” yet…

Of course, you’re only going to hear more about the “Rapture” for another couple weeks. Every news organization will talk about it — but so few will give it the lack of respect it deserves. And while some may laugh after the Rapture doesn’t happen, they’ll point the finger at Camping and Company. They won’t mention that millions of Americans really believe Jesus is coming back in their lifetime and they’re just as nutty as Camping. The only difference is that Camping is foolishly throwing out a specific date.

If only he spoke for the masses and we could just laugh all of them into oblivion after the 21st.

"The way republican politics are going these days, that means the winner is worse than ..."

It’s Moving Day for the Friendly ..."
"It would have been more convincing if he used then rather than than."

It’s Moving Day for the Friendly ..."

Browse Our Archives

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Adam

    Please, if anyone meets him or his followers before this deadline, make a wager. If the Rapture does happen, you’ll repent. If it doesn’t happen, they have to sign a contract saying they’ll stop talking about this crap.

  • If he spoke for the masses, this would be a somewhat important issue. Like you say Hemant, they’re giving him and his idea attention they don’t deserve.

    I still can’t find even one Christian who honestly believes the world will end in their lifetime. If this is impressive because of its stupidity, there are a LOT of other issues that will impress our movement a lot more. I think it’s just a slow news time for the media.

  • The more people announce this, expose it and broadcast it, the better. For when it all passes without any occurrence:

    (1) It will help people see once again the silliness of all this.

    (2) If, like other cults behave, these apocalyptic groups respond to the inevitable disappointment of their failed fantasies by taking their own lives, the gene pool will once again have a therapeutic purging.

  • Jessica

    Coincidentally, I just wrote a piece about the rapture services available to those gullible and well-heeled Christians. The best one is a service to fake your rapture if you embarrassingly don’t get carried off. Pretty sure it’s a joke, but still. 🙂

  • Ray M

    I stumbled across Camping on the radio several years ago, and have tuned in somewhat regularly since then as a source of amusement if I happen to be driving somewhere and there’s nothing better to listen to.

    He’s been foretelling May 21st 2011 for a long time now, and I continue to be astonished at the number of people who call in to his show, apparently taking this stuff really seriously – even after the breaks where they continue to ask for “love offerings” to help with their work. None of it makes any logical sense, of course, so I suppose these must be the cream of the utterly deluded crop, so to speak. Still, it’s sad to think there really are people who have given up everything, convinced by this moron that in just over a week, it will all be over.

    I can’t wait to tune in to his station on 22nd May.

  • Rebel

    Please join us at the After Rapture Party!

    And invite all of your friends!

  • Cpt Kibbles

    well at least it’ll happen the day after my birthday haha although ill probably be too hung over (or more likley still drunk) to notice any difference in the world even if people magicly disapeared 😛

  • Kaylya

    At least none of the religious columns that are up support the guy either.

  • I wonder if we can get a number on how many people believe in this particular date? The larger that number, the more argument we have against these nut-job beliefs, but in religion in general that it addles the mind and makes you stupid.

  • bLaKouT

    The Rapture/Second Coming has been predicted uncountable times since the First Coming… this is just another, better ignored than refuted. Nothing to see here, move along…

  • For a pretty comprehensive list of failed (and re-re-re-scheduled) rapture/apocalypse predictions made throughout history, visit It is a site that I turn people to who try to convince me to repent in order to avoid impending doom. How long does doom need to be impending before it’s taken off the table as something that needs resources and effort spent on it?

  • Someone You Know

    Could WaPo have chosen a worse picture of Dawkins to stick on that article? At first I thought it was Fat Donald Rumsfeld.

  • Stephanie

    All kidding aside, there is one serious thought about Camping and crew.

    I can’t really be the only person who thinks these idiots should be on a very short watch list for the next couple of weeks, can I? This group screams potential for domestic terrorism on the 21st like few groups I’ve seen in the past twenty years.

  • Brian

    The Rapture rockets rectums outta here, leaving the world for our delectation: it’s a win-win for atheists.

  • Justin

    What if we’re all just misunderstanding and “camping” isn’t his name, it’s what his church plans to do on the 21st, and somehow the idea was miscommunicated?

  • We’ve been tracking this thing for almost a year now! Having contacted the group, we’ve heard responses that range from “it’s not an actual prediction” to “I’ve sold all of my things and I dropped out of medical school – what’s the point?” Seattle Atheists are even setting up “rapture relief” to try to help out people who displaced themselves in the hope that the rest of us would burn and die and they ascended to heaven. We’re turning the event into a fund-raiser for our radio show. I wonder if Camping ever imagined such an adverse reaction from so many different groups of people?

  • JimG

    Gotta disagree with Dawkins on this one. While the Post’s questions are politely phrased (as is necessary if they want actual responses), they’re serious and the answers may be illuminating.

    The first, “What does your tradition teach about the end of the world,” makes it quite possible for people to inadvertently say “Oh, yeah, we believe something equally goofy but haven’t set a date.”

    The second, “How does end time theology impact real world behavior,” is a great question. For example, how often is anti-environmentalism justified on the grounds that Jesus will fix everything? It’s well worth getting people to clearly admit that eschatology, and nothing else, is driving policy. (Plus there’s the sly implication that “end time theology” is distinct from the “real world.”)

  • I can’t but help feeling that given the huge global publicity about it, that this is going to be devastating for his followers. They are going to be a worldwide laughing stock and it is likely to have huge repercussions on them personally.

    People might say ‘what’s the harm’, but I think this is likely to cause a great deal of harm. I am interested to see how these people try to rationalize it when it doesn’t happen. It’s a fairly good bet that few enough of them will lose their religious devotion.

  • Personally, I’m standing by the May 21st 2011 rapture date. I think that is the real date.

    If no-one gets beamed up, that doesn’t prove that the date was wrong. It just provides evidence that no-one met the standards to get beamed up. Then on May 22nd, Christians and non-Christians alike can just concentrate on living in the here and now since the promises of Christianity will have expired.

  • CanadianNihilist

    If I met anyone who actually believed it 100% I’d convince them sign their house and any other wealth over to me effective may 22nd.
    They won’t be needing it when they’re chilling with jebus right?
    For once I wish there were more R-tards where I am.

  • Steve

    Dawkins says that you just need to slap “tradition” in something and it becomes respectable. I’d go one further and say you need to slap “religion” on something and no matter how insane it is, it suddenly becomes beyond reproach. That’s especially true if you combine tradition and religion. Christianity and other older religions are so well entrenched that they are untouchable, as opposed to some new-age cult.

  • Freemage

    The closest thing to “within my lifetime” thinking I encountered within my admittedly liberal Christian upbringing was an admonition to “Live your life as if the End Times were tomorrow, AND going to take another 2000 years,” the idea being that you should both be willing to answer immediately for anything you’re doing, and make sure the Earth is a better place for you being here.

  • Rickster

    Someone shared this with me today on facebook from CraigsList Omaha. Link and text below.

    Seeking pious individuals for the coming rapture on May 22nd, 2011 – m4mw – 33 (midtown)

    I am an atheist seeking friends who are pious and who will be wisked away for the rapture that kirk cameron says is coming may 22nd 2011. I will take care of your pets while you are gone. I am a very kind and loving person who loves animals. Also i get to keep all your stuff because you won’t need them as you will be in rapturous bliss basking in the love of the great creator. I, however, will need your stuff since I will be trapped here on earth with all the rest of the unclean, deniers, and cravens. I will probably try to barter all your worldly possessions for guns or food or maybe women. Unless you have a truck and a cowcatcher. I will keep those and make a killmobile which will greatly increase my chances for survival in a world with no rules and no god.

    no weirdos please.

  • Kevin S.

    I’m not sure what the best part of the Rapture actually happening would be – getting most of those blithering idiots out of our way, or listening to the hand-wringing and excuse making of the Christians who didn’t qualify.

  • Edmond

    Does Camping have a specific TIME for the rapture? Will it be at midnight or noon or 3:16 or anything?

  • anybody else thinking of that ep of the Simpsons? when the Rapture happens and Lisa is pulled up to heaven and homer is all like “oh no you don’t!” and grabs her ankles and pulls her out of The Light. and the neighbors are all praying peacefully, the wingnut ones? they get raptured too. it’s weird and interesting commentary on the notion of a ‘rapture,’ imho.

    i’m not worried about it. if i’m wrong, i’ll fit in well in the new order. but i know i’m right, and nothing will happen in a religious out of the ordinary sort on may 21, or any other day. the end of the world has happened so many times they canceled both “buffy” and “angel” for lack of original story ideas, yo.

  • Robster

    The good news is…that we can have TWO christmas’s…err..xmas holidays. And then that can mean even more fun with two Easter’s!! That means about 10 days a year devoted to nonsense instead of the current five. Retail will be err raptured as will fast food and the oil companies.

  • Richard Wade

    I’ve survived so many well publicized doomsdays I’ve lost count. They all had two things in common: One, they didn’t happen. Two, the only people who mysteriously disappeared were the people who made money promoting the fraud.

  • GG

    While many are laughing at the suggestion, Camping’s followers are taking him seriously, bringing his message of impending doom to billboards and public spaces around the country.

    Blimey, if I knew I only had 9 days left on Earth I’d do something a lot more interesting than spend the time telling people about it.

  • Vystrix Nexoth

    May 21 in what time zone(s)? For example, if it happens at 12:00 pm EDT, it’s already May 22 in Australia. Perhaps only Americans will be raptured? Or will the rapture proceed from east to west to track local civil time?

  • Does Camping have a specific TIME for the rapture? Will it be at midnight or noon or 3:16 or anything?

    I believe he has said ‘around 6pm’ (someone correct me if I’m misquoting).

  • David Macadam

    I have read many arguments for and against the May 21 2011 “rapture” prediction. Instead of trying to predict everyone’s doom are we not as Christians suppose to preach the Holy Word of God spreading the love of Jesus and reminding ourselves and others what Jesus did on the cross for our sin. So many people get so caught up in trying to “figure out God” that they lose track of the real purpose and plan He has put before His children. It should not matter when the rapture or the day of judgement is. If a theif tells you he is going to rob your house then you are ready but not knowing when the theif might come you remain prepared at all times. So it is with our Lord Jesus Christ. Always be prepared and spread His gospel of love to those around you.

  • @David Macadam. When you say that you’ve read arguments for and against this rapture nonsense it makes it sound like you’ve taken it seriously rather than as the ridiculous joke that it is.

    So many people get so caught up in trying to “figure out God” that they lose track of the real purpose and plan He has put before His children.

    What makes the latter any more worthwhile than the former?

    It should not matter when the rapture or the day of judgement is.

    There is no rapture. There is no day of judgment. There is no god that will come down on a white horse and save you from the bad thing. FFS Christians, stop acting like children waiting for daddy to fix everything and take some responsibility. Maybe then the bad things in life will actually be repaired rather than prayed over or otherwise ignored.

  • David Macadam

    Thank you for your response Hoverfrog and I am sorry my post has made you upset. The only point I was making (and I guess this is not the right place to make it) is that Christianity has lost sight of what Christianity actually professes to be. I posted here because I saw the word “friendly” and thought that this was a website where I could post without being condemned by non-believers. God Bless my friend.

  • ACN


    No need to apologize, I’m pretty sure hoverfrog wouldn’t give you the pleasure of allowing something so ridiculous to make him upset.

    Also, please don’t confuse “friendly” with “gleefully accept whatever unjustified beliefs you feel like trotting about”. Most of us aren’t that interested in debating the “true meaning” of christianity for the same reasons that you probably don’t find debating the finer points of unicorn eating habits to be particularly entertaining.

    You should also note that most of us are atheists, and many of those used to be christians or “believers” of various flavors. To many of us, telling us “god bless”, has a particularly hollow and condescending sound to it.

  • David Macadam

    I am sorry my post has made you upset

    Whatever gave you that idea?

    Christianity has lost sight of what Christianity actually professes to be.

    Christianity is rather a large umbrella term that means different things to different groups and different people. It (or rather Christians) profess to being so many contradictory things that claiming that it professes to be something and then fails to live up to it is rather self defeating.

    I posted here because I saw the word “friendly” and thought that this was a website where I could post without being condemned by non-believers.

    Hemant is the friendly atheist but we’re not a bad bunch really. We tend to respond to what people say rather than what labels they give themselves.

    God Bless my friend.

    May Thor, Zeus, Horus and Caillech grant you clear skies. It’s pretty meaningless when someone invokes a deity that you don’t believe in, isn’t it?

error: Content is protected !!