Exit, Exit, Enter

The Unfortunate Cost of Evangelical Religion: Harold Camping
May 20, 2011, 1:44 pm
Filed under: Religion/God

$100,000,000. That is an amount of money that an infinitesimal amount of people in the world will get to see. Take, for example, that the two biggest countries per population are India and China, whose gross domestic products per capita are $3,339 and $7,518 respectively. This is in stark contrast to the United States’ GDP per capita of $47,123, and this figure doesn’t even take into account the gross wealth inequalities that persist in our country: 10% of the population owns 71% of the wealth, and as a slight even to this elite class merely 1% of the country’s population owns 38% percent of the wealth. As I said, not many will see 100 million dollars in their lifetime.

But, 89 year old Christian proselytizer Harold Camping has nearly seen that amount. His organization, Family Radio, has been rumored to be worth $100 million. Regardless of the actual amount, this smug civil-engineer turned Christian-proselytizer is making far more than Jesus Christ would have considered extravagant. Camping, however, is not the first to predict the rapture (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rapture#Date_setting), or to generate copious amounts of cash preaching (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missionary), or to otherwise take advantage of the insecurities created by not knowing everything. And, I don’t see this exploitation of the human insecurity stopping anytime soon.

Now then, how is this interpretation of the Bible received by other Christians and believers? It is merely deemed an unfortunate, rather innocuous misinterpretation. He is otherwise exempt from criticism of his postulation of an unsubstantiated armageddon, charlatanry in accruing obnoxious amounts of money, and smug track record of previous prophecies. In every other facet of human life, one would be eaten alive for such intellectual and social cowardice. However, he gets away with this almost exclusively based on his vague, apparently outlandish adherence to a (conveniently) modern body of religious principles.

Christianity, when interpreted as the Bible prescribes, is a clear plight of human progress. This absolute loon cannot be chastised as more than someone simply misinterpreting the Bible, because everyone knows that he is well working within the boundaries of faith and what the Bible instructs.

What I think makes him so controversial – if you can call it that at all – is that he, and other self-identified prophets of the Christian faith, just happen to be exposing a conscionable, very plausible scientific and moral untenability that a true Christian faith exhibits in the face of modern morality. And yet, all the while Christianity (or your particular flavor of religion) insists on being the sole process in which we stumble upon our morality. Surely loons like Camping are not processes by which we figure out that morality?

Christianity is a complex of relics that people hold onto – and misconstrue and ignore in spite of the sanity of every day life – from a time when it was ok to treat woman like objects, and superstition like a sound foundation of reason. It is kind of sad to see otherwise wonderfully smart people cower in the corner and treat people like Camping as the paranoid older brother who, unfortunately for most believers, otherwise shares the exact same principles that they do. The only difference is that he does it with the confidence and unabashed disregard for sensibility that the Bible has always required of its believers. It would be a safe bet to assume that he and his followers were as confident in this rapture date as anything they have ever been confident of. In a time where we have traced our origins and sequenced our DNA, that is a sad and frightening thing.


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