This marks my 600th post so I hope I'm not cheating by cross-posting from BlogHer. This thorny topic is a doozy - I got in way over my head. The post is also longer than most so I'm just going to excerpt the first chunk here. Happy Rapture!
It's a Saturday Night Live skit waiting to happen, right? Eternal Earth-Bound Pets: A service that promises to care for your pet after you have ascended to heaven to join The Almighty. Like the company's co-founder, Bart Centre, I laughed at first. Surely, this isn't real? After speaking with Bart, and a few close friends who believe in the Rapture, I stopped laughing and started thinking.
First, let's review: The Rapture, also known as "The End Times", is the basic belief (with varying tribulational differences) that Jesus is coming back and only taking His devout followers back up the Holy Elevator with Him. Evidently, the heathen losers "left behind" will be screwed. (Although it would surely strengthen the job market if 40-50 million Americans suddenly vacated …)
When I began my interview with Bart, he asked upfront, "Are you a believer?" I respond in the negative (to the Rapture, specifically) and we begin to chat. After hanging up, I realized the conversation would have been very different if I had answered in the affirmative.
Bart Centre is a devout atheist and is, in fact, the author of "The Atheist Camel Chronicles: Debate Themes & Arguments for the Non-Believer (and those who think they might be)" which is currently #6 on Amazon for atheist titles. Not bad for a self-published first-time author. "It's been quite an amazing ride," said Bart, who used the pseudonym, Dromedary Hump.
The book published this past June and a month later, his buddy, Brad, sent Bart a news link about a UK woman who promises to care for cats post-Rapture. They both have a good chuckle over it but Bart starts thinking.
One of his book chapters talks about the End Times and that looming Mayan calendar date of 2012. "I realize a lot of Christians are jumping on that boat," said Bart, "and asked myself, ‘What can I do that can help ease the concerns of Christians and make some money?'”
And so, Bart and Brad teamed up to launch Eternal Earth-Bound Pets USA in July. (Brad, a Minnesotan who doesn't want to use his last name, handles the Western US, while Bart oversees the East.) Bart believes it comes down to a Christian asking themselves a few questions: "'Do I believe in the Rapture?', ‘Do I believe my pets won’t go to heaven?’ and ‘Can I trust these atheists?’ If the answer to these three things is ‘yes’, then this will help."
Here's how it works: A prospective customer submits a contract via the site and pays $110, which covers one animal for a 10-year period. (An additional animal in the same household is an additional $15.) Bart and Brad review the contract and determine if they can truly execute the contract within 18-24 hours of the Rapture.
The company has 16 'representatives' located through the US, committed atheists who have actively blasphemed the Holy Spirit (Mark 3:29: “But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.") and therefore, won't be going anywhere on Rapture Day. Bart or Brad will confirm with the reps in the region whether or not they would be able to adopt and care for the animal listed in the new contract. (Both customers and reps remain anonymous; no contact is allowed.)
Let's face it, for many of us heathen types, the concept is ripe for comedy. In fact, the first question on the site's FAQ page asks, "Is this a joke?" Bart confirmed that this usually the initial reaction:
"We’ve gotten about 4,000 emails through the site. The largest percent are atheists who think this is the funniest thing they’ve ever seen and also, they want to be pet rescuers. Then, there are about 10 percent Christians who also think it is funny but don’t believe in Rapture and wish us well. We also get a few Christians who are really, really angry and use some rough language …Then, there is a small percentage, about 1 percent, who take us seriously and confess that this has been on their minds. They explore it with us and see that we are for real. Considering that most Christians don’t trust atheists far as they can throw us, these are people who recognize that we will to exercise our contracts should the Rapture occur."
Still enraptured? Read the rest of my post here.