After spending more than $100 million on a publicity campaign proclaiming that the world would end in Rapture on May 21 at 6 p.m., Harold Camping of the evangelical Christian group Family Radio awoke on May 22 with "no Plan B." He and his followers are facing jokes from a wide array of skeptics, from atheists to fellow evangelicals, who thought Camping's calculations were flawed or misguided. Are such jokes disrespectful to a group of earnest believers, or — after failing so publicly — are Camping's followers (or even all evangelicals) fair game?
Give evangelicals a break: For liberals and secularists, this non-Rapture is being seen as "proof that American evangelicals are nuts," says Tim Stanley in The Telegraph. That's unfair. Yes, all evangelicals believe that the world is heading toward destruction, but they shouldn't collectively be "damned by the actions of one misguided branch." And certainly not by snarky atheists who "knock back cheap imported beer and make out in hot tubs" while their evangelical peers are busy helping "homeless people, drug addicts, and the poor."
"The Rapture aside, America's evangelical Christians deserve a little respect"
Evangelists deserve to be punchlines: Those of us "who have a low opinion of evangelical Christians" don't necessarily base it on "the apocalyptic views of one Christian cult," says Ron Chusid at Liberal Values. We base it on their arrogant, over-the-top attempts to "impose their beliefs on others." So let us enjoy our moment of mirth.
"Why evangelical Christians do not receive much respect"
We can laugh and sympathize: "There has been something a little smug about how eager so many are to humiliate the end-timers," says Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Beast, but also, a certain "poignancy in the evangelical nuttery." So let's be clear: Camping's followers are "Book of Revelations crackpots," not orthodox Christians. And as much as we should respect what other religions believe, it's also true that "such nutballism begs to be made fun of."
"The anti-anti Rapture position"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- How our botched understanding of 'science' ruins everything
- Mike Huckabee's head-scratching advice to Christian voters
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- How Scotland's independence movement lost the vote and still won everything
- Obama knows he can't really 'defeat' ISIS. Americans need to wake up to that reality, too.
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
Subscribe to the Week