Saturday, May 21, 2011

On Why This Rapture Stuff Bothers Me

You’d think I’d be all over this rapture stuff… but obviously anyone who reads my blog knows I’m not. I just don’t really care.

I understand why some people are making such a big deal out of it. Atheists get to use this as another example of religion run amok. The Christians are using this to remind everyone that not all Christians believe the same nonsense (many believe completely different nonsense). Jews are busy being miffed about Obama mentioning Israel (namely, for continuing the same policy as Clinton and Bush regarding the 1967 borders), and Muslims are just happy that no one is really paying attention to them for the moment.

I’m just so utterly bored by the whole thing, though. I study religions and religious history, and this rubbish is painfully common in religion. It happens because it works. Some nut wants more butts in the pews, so he says the world is ending, gets the media to cover it like it’s a real newsworthy event, and free publicity ensues.

Sure, this one has the modern twist that this guy got people to spend their life’s savings on billboards advertising it, but the general strategy is unchanged: create an impending threat, draw people in with fear, and ignore the consequences.

But I anticipate this. I know there will always be individuals who do shit like that. I’m not surprised by people who exploit others, through religion or otherwise. What I find so downright irritating, what is frankly unforgiveable, is all of the free publicity being given to the guy doing this and his radio network.

Between this guy and the guy who burned a Quran, we are setting a very stupid precedent, namely that religious craziness will be rewarded with attention. I don’t think my blog is big enough to really make a difference, yet I still refuse to use the guy’s name because he doesn’t deserve the recognition. What he’s doing is not particularly novel, and certainly not worth a name drop from me, or anyone.


  1. Not worth a name drop? Doesn't deserve the recognition? Well, no he doesn't, but he created his own recognition with a massive marketing campaign. I've been mentioning Harold Camping a lot recently (HAROLD CAMPING, HAROLD CAMPING, HAROLD CAMPING!) but I'm not the one who put up billboards everywhere and took out full page ads in USA Today, he and his followers did.

    Besides, Camping was known (if not having the "15 minutes" of fame he has now) for decades before this. Family radio has stations all over the country, and he's been broadcasting there for over 50 years. I knew of him even before he was infamous for setting dates for the Rapture. He even appeared on the Larry King Show in the early 90s to debate his book 1994?.

    If anything, Camping was actually in a much more secure position financially with his Radio network and ministry before all this May 21 crap than he is now in the aftermath of his failed prophecy. It doesn't help him, and I don't think his motivation was to get more notoriety for himself and his religious organization. He's been doing quite well enough without it, but now he's been further exposed as a false prophet of doom. At his age, how does any of this help him, or his now marginalized Family Radio (which at one time was very accepted by the mainstream evangelical community)?

  2. I just realized this might come off as "holier than thou." I certainly don't care about the criticism, I'm more aiming my vitriol at media who basically presented him in the typically neutral "We'll frame both sides as equally possible" format, instead of using it as a situation to demonstrate that this sort of thing is a scam.

    Honestly, I didn't consider your posts to be part of the problem; I had Reuters, CNN, Fox News, and a few others in mind.

  3. Nikk has a few points. Camping may have been better off financially before all this came about. Why, then, would he do it?

    I believe the answer is pure nutbaggery. That, and his ego had to be satiated. Many preachers see themselves as demigods, they can't stand not controlling others.


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