Monthly Archives: May 2011
In the days leading up to the rapture, I had the opportunity to speak with several reporters and blog hosts… but the most fun I had was as a guest on BlogTalk Radio “Adventures in Sanity”. Have a listen and enjoy! ~geri
Fayetteville Humanists make a bigger quake than the Rapture!
As many skeptics followed with amusement and many Christians followed with embarrassment the “rapture” was “foretold” last Saturday (May 21st 2011) and very noticeably failed to occur. For those who missed this non-event I will provide a brief summation.
CHALK UP ANOTHER “FAIL” FOR CHRISTIAN LUNACY
An eccentric radio preacher, snake oil salesman, and crypt-keeper impersonator called Harold Camping made another in a long line of predictions that the judgement day, so fervently longed for by Christians tired of life, would occur 05/21/2011. He arrived at this date by “mathematical calculation” based on the “science” of numerology, drizzled liberally with his own special recipe of bullsh*t.
Needless to say, his prediction was hopelessly and utterly false. He succeeded however in raising millions of dollars from desperate believers, and causing untold damage to many lives and families damaged by the destructive actions and attitudes of those taken in. Lost jobs, lost savings, lost relationships and lost hope, if one can call a passionate longing for the end of the world hope, followed in his wake.
A burgeoning North Carolina group capitalized on this Christian lunacy by taking it as a theme for their two day event, the “Rapture After Party” and the “RAP up concert”. The Central North Carolina Atheists and Humanists, based in Fayetteville, NC, have leaped to prominence in the area, swelling their membership in the last six months and recently becoming a full chapter of the American Humanist Association. The group had existed for three years under the name Cape Fear Atheists and Agnostics, ticking over as a smaller community of unchurched sanity in the Fayetteville region, but 2011 has seen them move things into a whole new gear.
At the wheel of the Central North Carolina Atheists and Humanists is freethinking dynamo Geri Weaver. Geri first became involved in the secular community when she took action against public school distribution of bibles, a clear breach of the established rule that keeps evangelical activity out of our state institutions. You can hear more from Geri on an episode of the Cape Reason podcast she recorded earlier this year.
Geri Weaver and the team at CNCAH had already started planning an event to officially launch their new name, new AHA Chapter status, and the huge strides they had made in such a short time and the Rapture theme made the perfect fit. What better way to highlight the irrationality of outdated belief, and show the world that reason and common sense had a strong local community too. An excuse for a party made it so much the sweeter.
Originally planned as a single event, this quickly grew into a two night double dose of freethinking frolics. The first party would be held at the “Rainbow Room” on Saturday night, followed by a concert at local music venue “The Rock Shop” on the Sunday afternoon.
A spur for the concert was the addition to the line up of Hip Hop artist Greydon Square, known well in the secular community as a strong voice for Atheism, an outspoken critic of organized religion, a driven promoter of clear rational thinking, and a very talented musician. Greydon agreed to fly in from his home in California at cost, to play both events.
Although part of the stage was set, Geri and the CNCAH team knew they had a wide road of work ahead to turn their plan into something substantial. As so many of us know, the transition from idea to actually staging an event is a hard and long process. Many projects flounder and fall by the wayside. Geri, Stan, Harold, Ray, Leigh and the rest of the team were not going to let that happen. In addition to hours of work each of them invested a significant dollar amount to secure venues, staff, advertising, phone calls, blog posts, social networking, e-mailing and more. This was an example of Humanism in motion.
RAPTURE AFTER PARTY 1 – ARMAGEDDON 0
Greydon Square – Artistry, Articulation, Atheism
The 21st arrived, unlike the earthquakes, tidal waves, flying fundamentalists and general gnashing of teeth that Camping, the well financed doomsayer, had promised. The folks in Fayetteville knew they were staying firmly on Earth either way and so at 6pm, fundamentalist appointed hour of woe, they kicked off celebrating yet another prophetic failure with a bang.
The night had food, music, drink, great company as well as some lighthearted fun in the form of mass “debaptisms”, performed with skill and hairdryer by CNCAH member Ray.
A break overnight and then on to the concert featuring talented local musician Autumn Nicholas followed by Greydon Square. Freethinkers from around the Eastern U.S. came to sit, drink, talk and most importantly listen. Autumn sang some crowd favorites before Greydon took to the stage, and the microphone, to give us his post non-rapture message. Accompanied by Alex Prodoehl, manager, booking agent and on-stage Robin to Greydon’s Batman they knocked it out of the park, or in this case the Shop.
Greydon Square confronts his subject matter head on. He wants us to think. He wants us to ask questions. He never forgets that any good message needs to be delivered with passion nicely dosed with humor. He is in his own words “The Fifth Horseman” and his lyrics stylishly and effectively trample religious lies and hypocrisy under his Hip Hop Hoof.
THE SHOT-GLASS HEARD ROUND THE WORLD
The real triumph of this event, which will echo in the years to come, is that it put Fayetteville Humanists on the map, or more correctly on the globe. Press interest and interview offers poured in throughout the run up to Saturday, not just from the U.S. but as far afield as England and New Zealand. North Carolina has a Humanist community. That community has a voice. Fayetteville just turned up the volume.
Just as we predicted, here it is the Monday after the de-bunked 2011 Rapture prediction, and it comes as no surprise that we are still here – believers and non-believers alike. What we did not predict was the overwhelming amount of media attention CNCAH received! We were contacted by reporters and bloggers all around the globe – some who expected outrage for our public mockery of a religious prediction (there was none). Believers dismissed the prediction as easily as we did, yet we come away from the experience wondering why it is so easy for the faithful to scoff at the idea of THIS rapture prediction yet still hold true all of the other unbelievable (and unprovable) concepts contained in their sacred text. We did, however, achieve something most locals would have considered impossible – we openly celebrated our disbelief without resistance, confrontation, or any public spectacle… right here in Fayetteville, NC. And just maybe we showed the faithful that we are more alike then they would want to admit. We can only hope.
Well, I hope those of you who plan on attending tonight’s Rapture After Party have made your reservations, because we will be have a photographer in attendance who will be taking exclusive photos for global coverage of our event. Be sure to secure your spot before we are sold out!!
‘Rapture’ apocalypse prediction sparks atheist reaction
BBC NEWS 20May2100
US atheists are to hold parties in response to an evangelical broadcaster’s prediction that Saturday will be “judgement day”.
The Rapture After Party in North Carolina – “the best damned party in NC” – is among the planned events.
Harold Camping, 89, predicts that Jesus Christ will return to earth on Saturday and true believers will be swept up, or “raptured”, to heaven.
Harold Camping says he will spend Saturday at home in California
He has used broadcasts and billboards to publicise his ideas.
He says biblical texts indicate that a giant earthquake on Saturday will mark the start of the world’s destruction, and that by 21 October all non-believers will be dead.
Mr Camping has predicted an apocalypse once before, in 1994, though followers now say that only referred to an intermediary stage.
“We learn from the Bible that Holy God plans to rescue about 200 million people,” says a text on the website of Mr Camping’s network, Family Radio Worldwide.
“On the first day of the Day of Judgment (May 21, 2011) they will be caught up (raptured) into Heaven because God had great mercy for them.”
‘Countdown to back-pedalling’
The Rapture After Party in Fayetteville, North Carolina, is a two-day event organised by the Central North Carolina Atheists and Humanists.
“Though the absurdity of this claim is obvious to the majority of the world, it’s a great opportunity to highlight some of the most bizarre beliefs often put forth by religious fundamentalists and raise awareness of the need for reason,” said a posting about the party on the group’s website.
Atheists in Tacoma, Washington, have headed their celebration “countdown to back-pedalling”.
Events are also planned in Houston, Florida and California.
An atheist and entrepreneur from New Hampshire, Bart Centre, is enjoying a boost in business for Eternal Earth-bound Pets, which he set up to look after the pets of those who believe they will be raptured.
He has more than 250 clients who are paying up to $135 (£83) to have their pets picked up and cared for after the rapture.
They would be disappointed twice, he told the Wall Street Journal. “Once because they weren’t raptured and again because I don’t do refunds.”
‘No Plan B’
Meanwhile Mr Camping, who has been criticised by more mainstream Christians, says he knows “without any shadow of a doubt” that “judgement day” is arriving.
He says he will spend Saturday with his wife, close to a TV or radio.
“I’ll be interested in what’s happening on the other side of the world as this begins,” he told Reuters.
There is no “Plan B”, he says.
His campaign has been unusually widely promoted – both in the US, and overseas, including in the Middle East.
In Vietnam, thousands of members of the Hmong ethnic minority gathered near the border with Laos earlier this month to await the 21 May event, the Associated Press reported.
Chris McCann of eBible Fellowship, one of the groups helping to spread the message, said it had been publicised in almost every country.
“The only countries I don’t feel too good about are the “stans” – you know, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, those countries in Central Asia,” he said.