by Noah Lugeons
What? No apocalypse? No rapture? No dead rising from the grave? No Christians being carried to heaven on a sunbeam? Who would have guessed it?
Like me, I’m sure that you’re sick of hearing about the sputtering doomsday prediction. Even well before the anticlimactic hour arrived just west of the International Date Line, I was already bored with the jokes and the inane ALL CAPS Facebook posts warning us of our impending death-by-brimstone. We marvelled at how easily people could be drawn in by the spectacle of a person who was predicting the world’s end for the 2nd time. We listened as dumb people argued with dumber people about whether or not anyone would know the date of the rapture.
I’ve planned for several weeks to debut this blog on the day of the crapture but as it drew nearer I started to wonder if there was too much saturation. I started to wonder if the internet had room for yet another person poking fun of the nimrods that sold everything they owned on the word of a guy who claims to be a biblical scholar despite having no qualification beyond an engineering degree. I feared that there were no jokes left unuttered, no insults left unhurled.
But as I scrolled through the unforgiving depths of cyberspace, I started to notice one point that was not being made. It was so glaringly obvious to me that I expected to refer to it with a quick quote and a hyperlink and yet I couldn’t find anyone who was saying it. I’m sure I’m not the first to posit the question, though I’m surprised that such an important inquiry would manage to get buried under so many less important criticisms.
Why the fuck isn’t Harold Camping sitting in a jail cell right now?
Okay, sure. He has the right to believe whatever bullshit he wants. He even has the right to say whatever bullshit he wants. But he doesn’t have the right to sell it. What’s more is that even a cursory glance at his business practice demonstrates with all but certitude that he didn’t believe a damn word he was saying.
Family Radio (Camping’s “non-profit”) still had their employees scheduled to work this week. That, of course, proves nothing. Camping never said that the world was going to end today, but rather that the rapture would occur. For all their upper management knew there were some closeted heretics in their ranks and it would be damned presumptuous for them to assume that all their employees were going heavenward on the conga-line of immortality. Surely one or two of them would have unforgiven sins or last second impure thoughts that would hold them at the station. The schedule was just there for the ones that got left behind.
Many also faulted them when the station presented a 5 day forecast the other day with no mention of brimstone or frog-rain. But, of course, other than the earthquake and the rising dead Camping’s theological diarrhea wouldn’t have effected meteorology. Even after the rapture us unlucky heathens would still need to know whether or not to bring an umbrella so that makes sense as well.
But CNN reports that the hypocrisy goes much deeper. The organization has filed for tax deferments on payments that wouldn’t be due until after the October 11th “whole-world-destroyed” date. They still had a holiday schedule printed that included things like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Even the upper echelons of the business didn’t bother cashing in their 401k in time for the rapture. Sure, they encouraged their followers to give up on all their worldly possessions, but they weren’t convinced enough to do the same.
At a certain point this goes from tongue-in-cheek to knife-in-back. As easy as it is for me to sit back with my fully functioning cranial facilities and laugh at all the dumb-assses that bought into Chicken Little’s latest prediction, we’re also talking about gullible people getting bilked, lied to and left penniless as the rapture fails to materialize. As of 2009, Camping’s ministry had fucked its loyal adherents out of about $80 million. Up to about $73.08, that was funny. After that it is simply criminal.
Camping should be arrested for fraud. Sure, all preachers are committing fraud and I’m of the mind that the vast majority of them know good and well that the word their selling is nonsense. If a preacher actually believed there was an all-powerful, all-knowing, magical, omnipresent, jealous, vengeful deity watching over them, I think they’d be a little slower to speak for him. But in this unique case we can prove the deceit beyond any reasonable doubt.
The leaders of the Christian church (or any religion for that matter) are detestable scum that live well off charity they’ve guilted from those who cannot afford it. They prey on the poor and the ignorant, they don’t hesitate to use brutal psychological tricks against defenseless children and they do it all while somehow maintaining an aura of moral superiority.
In the end, I feel like I owe Harold Camping and Family Radio a thank you. If nothing else, they’ve helped to demonstrate that there is no amount of fraud one can commit in the name of religion that will be punished. No amount of deceit will be prosecuted. There is no limit to the amount of extortion one can get away with as long as they remember to say Jesus often enough.