Does the Upcoming Rapture Day Actually Hurt Anyone? May 13, 2011

Does the Upcoming Rapture Day Actually Hurt Anyone?

Yes it does.

We already know the fact that Jesus ain’t coming back will take an emotional toll on all those gullible Christians who believe this “May 21st is Judgment Day” nonsense.

But it’s also taking a financial toll on one man:

A 60-year-old New York City man is so sure the world will end on May 21, he has spent his retirement savings to warn people about it.

According to a report from the New York Daily News, Robert Fitzpatrick spent $140,000 for an ad campaign for signs on subway cars and bus shelters around the city reading “Global Earthquake! The Greatest Ever — Judgment Day: May 21.”

“I’m trying to warn people about what’s coming,” Fitzpatrick. “People who have an understanding [of end times] have an obligation to warn everyone.”

Dave Silverman of American Atheists was trying to defend the poor guy:

“Doomsday cults are money-making enterprises,” said David Silverman, of the American Atheists. “I wonder what is going to happen on May 22 when people no longer have their possessions or their savings and we are all still here and they don’t have their rapture.”

I can predict one thing: Harold Camping is not about to come to the aid of Fitzpatrick. Camping will be too busy planning out his next con — readjusting the date for the next Judgment Day.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Larry Meredith

    The billboard companies are doing well this year.

  • Kevin S.

    Planning his next con, or going to a country with no extradition with everything he got from this one?

  • Ben

    I just read a news story about a man in a Spanish town who decapitated a British tourist in a supermarket and shouted “God is on Earth”. I wonder if he was inspired by the rapture story and it’s apparent impending strike?

  • kitsunerei88

    I had this thought earlier: On May 22, could you sue if you’d spent all your savings because you’d been lied to about the Rapture?

    I don’t think it could found a claim in Canada (our misrepresentation laws require the statement be made by either a company representative or a professional in a professional capacity), but Americans are a little more litigious, so I’m curious whether this could found a misrepresentation and loss claim in the USA?

  • Hypatia’s Daughter

    I’m still looking for a Rapturite who will sign over all his possessions to me as of May 22nd…..

  • In all fairness, shouldn’t we be patient and save our gloating until the day after rapture day?

  • Richard Wade

    “I’m trying to warn people about what’s coming,” Fitzpatrick. “People who have an understanding [of end times] have an obligation to warn everyone.”

    Thank you for being so caring, Mr. Fitzpatrick. Here’s your soup, and a blanket.

  • Anonymous

    Richard Wade makes all other comments irrelevant.

  • Tina

    =(
    Can we start a fund raising for this guy (only him or everyone will want in on it come the 22nd) and have Silverman present the man with the money?

    This is really sad.

  • Steve

    We as in the atheist community? Why should we fix the mess some religious lunatics caused? Have other Christians help him. That makes up for their complicity in passively enabling this kind of nonsense.

  • Tufty

    I was actually gonna suggest a fund raising thingy too. Why should we fix the mess? It would certainly be great publicity. It would make the news and show people that we aren’t baby eating maniacs. And it would be a pretty nice thing to do.

  • cbc

    @kitsunerei88 –

    Fraud requires intent. I believe that even if by some stretch this guy found a lawyer to take the case, the defendant could just say the legit believed the lies they spread, and they would be off the hook. (Insanity defense?)

  • gwen

    Harold Camping has NOT sold his home or changed his finances in ANY WAY to prepare for the rapture.He gets his money from other gullible people. May 22, he will be in a financial position to plan his next ‘end of earth’ scam. He should be arrested and put in jail.

  • Stephen P

    @Hieronymous: no, we don’t need to wait. This is just a rehash of the same tired old scheme that has been around since (at least) the first-century letters of Paul. They are getting all the fairness they deserve.

  • Drakk

    I feel sorry for the guy, but I can’t help but think this is a lesson that has to be learned the hard way…

  • Baconsbud

    Drakk I agree but how many learned the first time his prediction failed? I wonder how many of these following Camping laughed at the 1994 prediction and how many were following him then?

  • Kaylya

    Here’s an interesting article on the psychology behind these sorts of movements: Apocalypse now, or maybe another day

    When doomsday fails to happen, people who have committed everything to the ‘prophecy’ can become even more convinced that it will happen, they just made an error calculating the date or something.

  • Charles Stevens

    I feel sorry for this guy, but only in the same way that I feel sorry for the gazelle when a cheetah feeds its young.
    Natural selection in both cases.
    Sad, but true.

  • kitsunerei88

    @cbc:

    Fraud requires intent but misrepresentation doesn’t – my question is whether this could potentially found a negligent misrepresentation claim? Negligent misrepresentation doesn’t require intent, but still makes you liable for damages. Innocent misrepresentation doesn’t require intent either but leaves you open to a rescission claim.

    I’m not on the up and up with the American law, but as it was Judge Cardozo in NY State who came up with negligent misrepresentation (Glanzer v. Shepard, 1922), it’s my understanding that it’s still in American law. My question is what current rules exist around it, and whether this would qualify as negligent misrepresentation.

  • cbc

    Hm, good questions. I’m not sure of the answers. While I’m intrigued and would research them, I promised myself I would curb my recreational legal research until I finish my term papers 🙂

    My inclination is that any claim against someone who preaches a religious doctrine would run afoul of the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. That is, holding someone liable for others acting on their theories of the supernatural would unduly restrict their freedom to exercise their religion. I’m fairly certain (but not positive) no U.S. court would want to set such a precedent, regardless of the theory under which a claim was brought.

  • Ronster

    On May 22nd, I believe all the doomsayers are going to be doing a pretty good impression of a GPS navigation system…”RECALCULATING”. A math error or some other explanation will be found to tell us why Earth was not destroyed and nobody disappeared in a puff of faith. I suspect those explanations are in their back pockets right now.

  • Samuel

    Tina, I don’t think we should even talk about raising money to ‘help’ these people who were fooled into throwing away all they have worked for. This will be a great learning process for them. And education is expensive. If you were stupid enough to toss your life savings away, tough.
    I don’t believe in any of this garbage anymore. If there is a God, he isn’t concerned with this little blue ball or anyone on it. If he was, the crap that goes on wouldn’t happen. I can look at my own life and see that. Religion is powerful like politics. Never trust a preacher or a politician.
    Yes, that is cynical, but I have become cynical in my 38 years of life.