Rapture Enthusiasts Fantasize About a Post-Rapture America Ruled by Atheists

Angry God“End Times” prophet Ed Hindson appeared on VCY America’s Crosstalk last week to talk about the Rapture, that point in the End Times when Christians float up into the air to meet Jesus, and the United States.

This is a discussion, just to be clear, about something that doesn’t exist (the Rapture), and which is very much tied up in Christian persecution fantasies, and something that does exist (the United States), but which has nothing at all to do with the persecution of Christians.

In other words, this is like hosting a talk on the Zombie Apocalypse and the United States. But you must understand, before we go on, that in the eyes of these fake Christians, the Rapture is every bit as real as the American persecution of Christians, fake or otherwise.

Hindson claims that “The United States would be incredibly impacted by the Rapture because there are more professing Christians here than perhaps any other place on the planet.”

Well, we would be impacted by an alien visitation, too, or a zombie apocalypse. And yes, some would say that in the so-called Religious Right the United States already has a zombie problem.

But hey, as long as we are entertaining fantasies, imagine the real estate deals the rest of us will enjoy post-Rapture. I’m starting to like the sounds of this Rapture thing. I mean, more than zombies. Hard to enjoy your real estate while zombies are trying to eat your face.

So is Hindson liking it. A lot. Take a listen to what the “disappearance of millions” would entail, courtesy of Right Wing Watch:

What would happen, I think, in the United States is the sudden Rapture of believers would leave this country totally secularist, totally atheist, totally in the hands of anti-Christian forces, and it would decimate the economy, the banking system, even the military, the police system. It would throw this country into chaos overnight. Now, it would throw any country into chaos, but the larger percentage of born-again believers, the larger percentage of the chaos.

Hindson won’t share the good news with you, but I will: the crime rate would also drop, divorce rates would drop, and use of pornography would drop. You starting to feel me on this Rapture thing?

Some might say, hey, the United States isn’t even mentioned in the Book of Revelation, otherwise known as the Apocalypse of John. Why is the United States, the fruition of all God’s plans for the world, not mentioned in the Bible he wrote for white Americans?

Unless you try to view the Babylon of the End Times as America, there’s no indication that America’s there anywhere [in the Bible]. So, is she totally destroyed? Possibly, but not likely. It’s more likely that she’s decimated by the impact of the Rapture, and the power then shifts to Europe, because I think the Bible makes it clear the Antichrist will arise out of the old Roman Empire in Europe.

That’s right. America will be Raptured away. It’s like Calgon, only holy, not secular, but will presumably feel just as good.

Yes, my brain hurts too.

Honestly, this is just so painful, it makes you wish you had stayed in bed, blissfully unaware.

The reason the United States is not mentioned in Revelation is because there was no United States when the book was penned. The reason the Roman Empire figures prominently in Revelation on the other hand, is that it was written in the Roman Empire with the Pagan Romans as the bad guys.

Revelation is supposed to have been written during the reign of the Emperor Domitian, at the end of the first century CE. Domitian is supposed to have persecuted the Christians, a claim like all claims about persecution of Christians which rests on some very dubious evidence.

Historian Paul Keresztes indulges in common persecution fantasies when making the following startling assertion:

At the time of Domitian’s Terror, Asia had a sizable Christian community in the predominately Greek and Jewish population. The non-Christian mobs zealously complied with Domitian’s desire for Imperial worship. They demanded the punishment of the ‘atheist’ Christians, who abstained from the cult. Leading Christians were probably thus punished, some put to death, others, such as John, the ‘author’ of the ‘Apocalypse,’ banished.[1]

Keresztes seems to be reading a great deal into our sparse sources by arriving at this level of detail. Keresztes is using the assumption of persecution of Christians under Domitian to date these writings and they therefore prove nothing.

W.H.C. Frend, sounding altogether too much like David Barton, also makes appeal to the Apocalypse of John, noting that it “suggests the possibility of anti-Christian outbreaks in Asia”. He sees in Rev. 13:16-17 “the existence of boycotts and trade sanctions directed against the Christians in the towns” as well as “the banishment of some of the leading Christians to penal settlements in the Aegean Islands.”[2]

But in speaking of the The Book of Revelation and the First Epistle of Peter, to which many apologists also appeal, T.D. Barnes says that “The execution of Christians in Asia Minor, which are attested in Revelation and the so-called First Epistle of Peter need not have involved any reference to the emperor.”[3]

J.E.A. Crake issues a stronger caution:

It is very precarious to try to use the Apocalypse of John for historical evidence. Apart from the difficulty of dating the book, a difficulty that applies to some other writings of this period, the nature of the work itself is to conceal any obvious reference to contemporary history. The natural procedure is to use our knowledge of history to identify allusions in the book; it is almost impossible to reverse the process without arguing in a circle.[4]

So other than demonstrating that he has a fine imagination, Keresztes, also like Barton, proves nothing. Even Frend, who says that “Domitian was not a man to tolerate religious deviations” cannot summon up much enthusiasm for a Domitianic persecution, concluding that “the persecution of Domitian does not appear to have amounted to very much.” For Frend, “When one discounts the senatorial prejudices of Tacitus and Suetonius, the emperor stands out as a shrewd but jealous-minded ruler, a strong upholder of public right and the state religion, whose prejudices and fears for his own safety increased with age.” [5]

Waters also finds the evidence of persecutions less than compelling. “One cannot doubt that Christians would meet wth Domitian’s disapproval on two counts: first, he had a genuine concern for the traditional Roman religion which was regarded with intolerance by Christians (and strict Jews); second, he insisted on formal compliance with the rules of loyalty to the princes. As with the philosophers, the conflict, real or apparent, with established authority was the main point at issue.” For these reasons “both Jews and Christians found it easy to dislike Domitian” with the result, Waters says, that the “Christian writers, basing their case on a very small quantity indeed of factual evidence, proceeded to develop a tradition of a full-scale persecution.”[6]

BINGO.

But persecution fantasies aside, Hindson has a bigger problem than the missing United States. There is the missing Rapture itself. The Rapture isn’t in the Bible.

In fact, in eighteen hundred years of Christianity, nobody heard of the Rapture until John Nelson Darby developed the idea in the 1830s, an idea that was then passed along to C.I. Scofield in the early 20th century. Scofield put it in the footnotes of the Scofield Reference Bible. Bible readers then read the Bible very much as they do now, which is to say, little or not at all, and assumed what they found in the footnotes to be true.

Actually reading the Bible, of course, would have proven that the Rapture is nowhere to be found in Scripture.

Seriously, we might as well talk about what would have happened at Stalingrad if the Germans had had a Balrog. Our time would be no more wasted. This obsession over the Rapture is silly but hardly surprising from a group that has weaponized the Prince of Peace, demonized the poor he embraced, and extolled the rich he condemned.

Yet it consumes the imaginations of millions of Americans who duly make cranks like Tim LaHaye (author of the Left Behind series) rich. And their fantasies affect the rest of us because these misguided fools want to redirect our lives and activities to fall into accord with a fantasy theology that would startle Jesus every bit as much as Paul or any of the early Church fathers.

And yes, these people want to run this country.

I think the one bright spot in all this, and the one thing atheists and the Religious Right have in common, is that they can both fantasize about a post-Rapture America ruled by atheists.

Notes:

[1] Paul Keresztes The Imperial Roman Government and the Christian Church. I. From Nero to the Severi (Berlin, 1980), 272. We find Sulpicius Severus repeating this tale about John in his Chronica, ch. 31: “Then, after an interval, Domitian, the son of Vespasian, persecuted the Christians. At this date, he banished John the Apostle and Evangelist to the island of Patmos. There he, secret mysteries having been revealed to him, wrote and published his book of the holy Revelation, which indeed is either foolishly or impiously not accepted by many.” The tradition is earlier repeated by Eusebius (EH 3.18) and before him by Irenaeus, whom he cites in this regard (Against Heresies, 5.30.3).
[2] W.H.C. Frend, Martyrdom and Persecution in the Early Church (Oxford: Blackwell, 1965), 156-157.
[3] T.D. Barnes, Tertullian: A Historical and Literary Study (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985), 150.
[4] J.E.A. Crake, “Early Christians and Roman Law” Phoenix, Vol. 19, No. 1 (Spring, 1965), 64.
[5] Frend, 158, 161.
[6] H. Waters, “The Character of Domitian,” Phoenix 18 (1964), 74-75.

51 Replies to “Rapture Enthusiasts Fantasize About a Post-Rapture America Ruled by Atheists”

  1. Really looking forward to this…I have been wishing all the “religious” lunatics went away for many years…any time, people…never soon enough for me.

  2. It is amazing what people can be led to believe even in the 21st century. Most of these charlatans are making big bucks off of these end times predictions and through spreading hate an intolerance. They seem to appeal to the basest of human instincts.

    I know many evangelicals and they believe this stuff completely. You cannot have any type of discussion with them about any of their superstitions as they will just explode with anger.

    It is truly alarming that these delusional nutcases have gotten themselves elected to high offices in our government at the local, state and national levels.

    Elections do have consequences and I hope that enough people are paying attention. These dominionists need to be stopped or we will not recognize this country.

  3. Being Catholic, and no believer in the Rapture doctrine, I have ANOTHER perspective. There will indeed be an End times, with the Church besieged and persecuted; the believers will bear the brunt of the persecution. There will be no “Get Out Of Jail” card for them. They will bear out, at the cost of their lives, the truth of Benedict XVI’s maxim: “The only weapon that truth and love has against lies and violence is the silent witness of suffering.”

  4. “And yes, some would say that in the so-called Religious Right the United States already has a zombie problem.”

    definitely so

  5. A prominent Catholic bishop, summing up his vision of our past, present, and future, had this to say: “I expect to die in bed; I expect my successor will die in jail; I expect HIS successor to die on the scaffold in the public square; I expect HIS successor will be helping pick up the shattered pieces of a broken civilization–just as the Church has done before.”

  6. “This obsession over the Rapture is silly but hardly surprising from a group that has weaponized the Prince of Peace, demonized the poor he embraced, and extolled the rich he condemned.”

    Amen to that!

    “These dominionists need to be stopped or we will not recognize this country.”

    All candidates for office at all levels of government need to be asked if they are end timers/dominionists. They have every right to run for office, but no one should be able to use the very broad label of “christian” to gloss over the fact that they personally believe that these are in fact The End Times and that they are just playing their part in readying the place for The Second Coming and their own personal experience of being “Raptured”. They have every right to their beliefs. They have every right to run for public office. I do not believe,however, that they have a right …or divine approval… to make decisions for our future based on a fundamental view of reality that has no future…

  7. So in other words we will have a paradise and REAL peace on earth without all the insane people running around. If it happens there will be a lot of empty mega churches to turn into shopping malls and model airplane flying rooms.

  8. Why do they care what happens after the rapture….they are gone, and have no worries. It is kind of like worrying about the dirty carpet in the trailer that you have been renting. Should you bother to clean it if you don’t live there anymore. All It is is fear mongering.

  9. They think the banking system will be devastated after the Rapture? Ha, because there are so many born-again Christians working as bankers? hahaha. The many Jewish, Hindu, Chinese, and secular people in the banking sector would never even notice if all the born-agains disappeared. The military, yeah maybe. And a much smaller military would probably solve a lot of our problems, since we would have to start acting like a normal country.

  10. Why would these people care about what happens to America after this fake rapture? Are they afraid they will still be here? In the scheme of things, people are what count, not what country is in power

  11. The Rapture myth is just another means of keeping people in line, and paying their tithes to their churches and their charlatan pastors. It’s also the means of keeping folks fearful, which is fundamental to being a conservative. After all, conservatives are that way because they worship the past, and are afraid of progress and change.

    The Jehovah’s Witnesses, who take the man-made bible literally as the word of god, firmly believe that only 144,000 will be “raptured”. So my question to them has always been “If that is the case, why do you keep going door-to-door, looking for new members? Aren’t you afraid your place will be taken over by someone “better” than you?” Well, of course I don’t ever expect an answer that makes any sense…..

  12. if that’s what they believe, then they should probably know that all of those spaces are probably taken up by Israelis to start with.

  13. The Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in the rapture. They believe the 144,000 will be in Heaven helping Jehovah rule and the rest of us will be living for eternity on this earth which will have been turned into Paradise.

  14. This planet would be a Paradise without religion and faith in a man made fantasy that creates man made problems.

  15. My sister in law has become crazy and thinks ISIS will bring about the apocalypse. So she is getting ready to walk away from her house and no longer make payments. She no longer wears make up and think Obama is the anti-christ hastening the demise of the world. I only see her once a year but she has become involved in this church that is making her crazy. My other sister in law was so concerned she called my husband to express her worries about her older sister. The religious one thinks she knows everything (no college at all) will walk away when you confront her with facts. She and my husband get into it when he visits and I usually have to step in and tell him to back off because she is a confused sad person. She thinks she is middle class even though she lives paycheck to paycheck. She supports right to work laws and now thinks minimum wage laws should go away. The very person who would benefit from worker protection and pay raises is against it. Religion can really F up people.

  16. I can’t remember who to attribute the quote to, and you’ve probably heard it, but your sister-in-law is just like my siblings. They just get by but think they are middle class.

    The quote is something like: Working class Republicans vote against their own best interests because they don’t see themselves as poor, they see themselves as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.

  17. Why do Hindson and the rest of the religious nut bags care what happens to America after their beloved Rapture? According to them, they will have been whisked off to heaven to spend eternity with god. They won’t be here to enjoy the peace and tranquility resulting from their departure.

  18. I, too, keep hoping for the Rapture so the rest of us decent, sane folks can go about our business in peace and prosperity. When ever I hear this rapture talk I think of one of Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker novels (don’t remember which one) where these space pioneers have been sent off to find a new world because the old one is about to die. It’s really a ruse to get rid of the planet’s most annoying people so the rest can live in happiness and free from these idiots.

  19. Benedict was a pedophile enabler and he was a Nazi during WWII, he was also deeply involved in the financial scandals that Pope Francis is trying to reign in.

    He was not a holy man but a corrupt power seeker who can not leave the Vatican grounds because he has numerous nations who will indict him for his crimes.

    Enjoy your end of times and know that we all will miss you.

  20. Why do the so called christians believe in such a hate filled and evil god? He must be one evil Mother ***er.

  21. You buy into the media narrative too much, Thumper. The media has always hated the Church. Learn to think for yourself–don’t let them put your head in chains.

  22. Their God resembles a raging alcoholic, and I think these revelation-end-time-rapturists waver between delusional and schizophrenic. Dealing with them is mind-numbing.

    But I don’t think eliminating religion would usher in some golden age. Religion is a manifestation of human nature, not some external oppressor that perverts us. Without religion, we’d just find some other reason to behave like petty jackasses.

    Don’t know about you, but I know atheists and skeptics I’d rather not deal with as well, and the feeling is likely mutual. I don’t see us all gettin’ all John Lennon together.

    I guess it’d be one less drag on my day.

  23. That’s unfortunate. I have hard-line fundamentalists on one side of my family, and they read those Lahaye/Jenkins screeds, and their opinion of Obama is less than rapturous…

    but they pay their mortgage and aren’t doomsday prepping for when Obama brings ISIS to their door. They’re too busy circulating memes about the war on Christmas and the ACLU.

    If she’s really gone as far as you indicate, I wouldn’t worry about her positions on unions or the minimum wage right now. Is she married? Maybe someone on his side can knock some sense into her?

    Antipathy toward religion is understandable but pulling your sister off the ledge is your focus I would guess. Good luck.

  24. Lifted up from this banal existence, about to spend eternity in paradise, dwelling forever with their creator…..

    …and they still can’t stop thinking about money.

  25. Schadenfreude.

    As much as experiencing the rapture, they’re longing for that moment after, they’ll be gazing at us un-like-minded looking around, mouths agape.

    As they savor this sweet picture, they scream “I told you so” just as the clouds close behind them.

    An eternal utopian existence with the Creator is just icing on the cake.

  26. Every generation, a subset of Christians with an insatiable appetite for prophecy (plus a few about to experience something miserable) declare “we are in the end times.”

    These people will tell you “we are in the end times” OR that Dr. Prestigious Theologian thinks we are in the end times as if that’s supposed to knock us for a loop.

    Someone said he’s heard warnings about the imminent end of the world every year since he was 10. I think more like every year since Jesus was 10.

    “Oh, but THIS time, man, you better straighten up, because THIS time it’s true…..why aren’t you screaming and setting your hair on fire?”

  27. My grandmother, God rest her soul, was beyond convinced – as in 100% chance – that the world would end at Y2K. She kept pushing these prophecies by some psycho named Gary North. She got his newsletter and all this information about the end of the world.

    One or two books on the topic also kept her going in this vein. She read and re-read them. More than one source. Gotta be true.

    She got $5,000 worth of dry milk in the basement and enough MRE’s to feed 4 people for a year. Still in the basement where her widower lives.

    I was told that God works in mysterious, ineffable ways, beyond the comprehension of humans, all-encompassing and awe-inspiring. Unfathomably complex and infinitely holy, woven from the mind of God and entwining all His creations.

    But the world was going to end in the year 2000 because it’s a big, round number.

  28. hey. stop picking on the evangelical radical zealots. even if they believe jesus was a white dude in sandals with white skin, blue eyes, and flowing golden brown hair who rode a brontosaurus to work every day like the flintstones which many evangelicals consider factual religious documentaries. i forgot- he spoke English to, just like god.

  29. So…. Satan is a velociraptor?

    Wait…. yes! I see!

    Raptor = Rapture!

    The pronunciation just changed, is all.

  30. When my dad was about 9 or 10 he heard on the radio that the world was going to end on a certain date at a certain time. He believed this, being only a child, and was very put out that his mother made him go to school that day. He sat and watched the schoolhouse clock and when the world didn’t end at the right time he had a revelation: people predicting end times are full of shit. He will be 80 in 7 weeks. Happy birthday, Dad! I’m usually late with the wishes.

  31. The problem with their theory of the “rapture” is that simply calling oneself a christian isn’t going to get you your golden ticket. The Jesus of the Bible wouldn’t recognize these idiots if they were carrying signs. Sadly, I’m afraid that means we’re stuck with them and their absurdities. Our best bet is to vote. Every election. And make damn sure we know who/what we’re voting for.

  32. The funny thing is that John of Patmos, author of the Book of Revelations, wrote it as an epistle to the church leaders abroad. (Patmos is in Greece, and John wrote in Greek.) In occult parlance, early Christians were in possession of a kind of crude Enigma code, not decoded by the twisting of dials and such, but by transposing letters having the exact same numerical value. In this manner, “The Great Beast 666” by isopsephia, the letter-number system, had equivalence to Nero Caesar. If the idiot Romans stumbled upon the epistle, they would think it gibberish, just as it must appear today to any sane man or woman. The Rapture Freaks are fools. They take the gospel literally, looking forward to something that happened thousands of years ago. If the gospel predicted current events, Dominionism is sheer madness.

  33. Your post is accurate and correct. The letter of Revelation is apocalyptic literature NOT prophecy, written for a specific period and reason – HOPE – for those undergoing danger of being destroyed and when no earthly hope is in sight. Too many have used it for their own purpose, with their own literal interpretation — prophecy… when it’s NOT PROPHECY, taking away from its original purpose.

    Some have interpreted it to get out of their responsibility from doing their part making the world a better place for ALL to live on this planet.

    THERE WILL BE NO RAPTURE!!!

  34. The GOP has built their own coffin especially since 1980 when Reagan welcomed the “religious” right-wing into their politics, continued in 2008 when a few vowed to not support President Obama and hammered nails into it in 2010 when, in their desperation, welcomed the so-called and mis-nomered so-called “tea party” a Koch Bros. support.

    This is NOT American. It is fascism and tyranny in plain and simple English.

    And SCOTUS, your decisions lately, have not been apolitical, but ideological and unConstitutional to name a few! They need to be overturned – and those who voted for it need to be impeached, as do those who voted out the Voting Rights Act and Hobby Lobby! Something needs to be done to you to ‘punish’ you for not doing your job as you should have done, favoring the rich and money and not in accordance with our Constitution – and NOW before your “decisions” completely ruin our country! Your are not American!

    THERE WILL BE NO RAPTURE!

  35. Thanks for a great interpretation of The Letter of Revelation, its contents and the audience.

    You are correct that the Letter was written by the writer John of Patmos … not John the Evangelist. The former written in “common Greek” who took the name John (which disciples often did to honor their teachers such as Isaiah), while the latter by the Evangelists was written in “educated” Greek.

    Thanks.

  36. Most of today’s profession fundamentalist “Christians” are likely to find themselves guilty of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit given their war against the Holy Spirit inspired social justice teachings of Jesus.

    Do they also know that were there to be a “rapture” and if they were in fact raptured, they would be sexless beings?

    In Matthew 22.30, it is written: “in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”

    Apparently neither does it matter to whom they were married whether they be heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual. In their raptured state, it apparently doesn’t matter.

  37. What is going on with folks like your sister didn’t just happen since PBO got elected. RWNJ religious repubs today have been propagandized and brainwashed for the last 30+ years. Repubs use talk radio (mostly repub owned) and Fox Lies to get their insane message out. Where are all the Reagan lovers now? I blame them too. While they were in love with his morning in America crap, they failed to see all that was being dismantled behind their backs. Until we get rid of them in Congress, we will still be fighting these nut jobs for years to come.

  38. Rather amusing that Hindson and his bloviated ilk would think they qualify as Rapture ‘recipients.’ Most atheists I know act more ‘Christian’ than these bigoted hatemongers.

  39. Google “The Pretrib Rapture Jackpot” for an incredible behind-the-scenes look at the “Left Behind” rapture racket!

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