It didn’t really occur to me that anyone actually believed that the world was going to end the other day. Honestly. I had assumed that some crazy preacher made the claim, that it was being used to scam the gullible here and there, but that almost no one was really taking it seriously. But, in reading a few of the post-Rapture updates, this is clearly not the case. And, I’m sure that this is one of those things everybody else knew and that I was blissfully ignorant of.
Almost a hundred years ago, some guy named Miller came up with the idea that the world would end in 1843 or so. I apologize to the world that this occurred in the part of the country that I’m from, which is also were Mormons are from. Something in the water, most likely. Saratoga Springs Mineral Water? Radon from the Adirondacks? Fumes from the Hudson? Who knows…. Anyway, he predicted it, a LOT of people got on board, and it didn’t happen. So do you know what they did? They invented a new religion and got even more people on board! Today, this is one of the fastest growing religions, and it is known as the Seventh Day Adventist Church.
Harold Camping predicted this latest rapture, and people gave him money. They money was supposedly used to put up billboards warning everyone of the coming end times. I don’t believe that for a second. I believe Harold Camping and his people stashed at least some of this money away and will be using it for things that the people who gave it would likely object to.
Do you have a problem with me accusing some guy and his organization of stealing money with no evidence? Tough noogies. I said I believe he did this. He said he believes the world would end on Mary 21st, and if not, October 21st. Start the betting pool on who is correct now! But I digress…
Now that the world did not end, you would think that all the gullible people that followed Camping into the Weekend of Doom would walk away, shaking their heads at their own dumbosity, and move on. But no. Some have become depressed and despondent (that’s reasonable) some have attempted suicide (not so reasonable), some probably have walked away, but a number seem to be lining up for another shot at demonstrating either a) that people who talk about the wonders of the human mind and the greatness of human civilization are clueless idiots or that b) there are a lot of people out there with a mental illness or deficit of some kind that should probably be addressed. Seriously. This may be a matter for the CDC.
Now, here is what is important about this: Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, and many of the other once or future candidates for high office and/or leaders of the republican party are totally down with this Rapture thing. They may or may not have bought into this particular version of it … though I demand to know exactly where each one of them was on May 21st, and what was on their calendar for the following week … but they do believe in the Rapture, and the Second Coming, and the Apocalypse, and all of it. They believe that the fate of the world and the fate of humanity is determined by powerful magical undercurrents revealed in scripture and occasionally through what we know to be delusional ramblings of people, like Harold Camping, are not sane.
More importantly, the Republican Party’s policy and political strategy is based on the premise that guidance from these revealed truths is more important than guidance from verified knowledge, science, good engineering, and common sense. Anything bad that is happening, including things that humans are clearly doing, can be attributed to the mysterious plan of a god, and divine intervention can be counted on to intercede. When natural disasters happen they are often interpreted as sensible divine judgments enacted on a group of people who are either antithetical (politically or philosophically) to the American Right Wing or who are routinely denigrated by them, such as gay people, Haitians, people who live in North Minneapolis, or even religious people who are just not of the exactly correct religion.
The idea of this particular Rapture is a logical and ‘sensible’ (in an insane and delusional kind of way) part of the larger concept of Rapture and Apocalypse. And that, in turn, is an explicit part of the religion of a large number of American fundamentalists and evangelicals. And that faction of American Politics calls the shots for those who represent about half our country, and thus, are in power at the State and Federal level about half the time.
Was there an erosion of belief in this delusional religious doctrine last weekend? That is not a rhetorical question. I want to know. I want this studied. When October 21st comes along, the actual date of the Rapture that failed to happen last weekend, and the Rapture does not happen again, will there be an erosion of belief in this delusional religious doctrine? Again, this is not a rhetorical question. It matters because if there is a significant erosion of belief, then people were fooled. That’s manageable, thinkable, not-entirely-unreasonable. If there is not, or there is an increase in following, then the people engaged in this foolishness are significantly not normal in a potentially dangerous way. And, while there may not be many of those people around, those who appease them, use them for political gain, and associate and ally with them when convenient and useful, need to be booted out of mainstream politics in this country because it is not safe allowing them to run things any more than we would have Chuckie Manson in the cabinet or running a utility company or something. Sarah Palin will press the button if she has it to press and the right person tells her to do so.
Or, perhaps not. Perhaps these Princesses and Commodores of the Teabagging right … Pawlenty, Huckabee, Bachmann, Palin, etc. … are only using, as in exploiting, the delusional faction of the fundamentalist right. If so, now it is time for them to stop, drop, and denounce. Let’s hear Tim “I Only Tell The Truth” Pawlenty openly say that October 21 will NOT be the end of the world, and that people should NOT be giving money to the Church of Harold Camping. Let’s ask all of the candidates at the next few debates that occur at party events to speak about this social ill. Let’s find out where Rand Paul, Haley Barbour, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum stand, in precise and clear terms, on the question of the Rapture and Apocalypse. Yes, I do in fact propose a litmus test. Claim that the Rapture is not real or step aside and let the sane people, of whatever political stripe, continue with our national debate about important things like climate change and the economy, human rights and education, our health programs and public welfare.