A new “apocalypse establishment” has emerged in the momentary absence of Harold Camping, exploiting the fears resulting from the approaching debt-ceiling deadline, and may help the End Times preacher to resurrect “professionally,” a business magazine says.
“In addition to Camping’s revised forecast – the world is definitely going to end on Oct. 21 – many Rapture-seekers now believe the Aug. 2 debt-ceiling deadline signals that the end may be very, very near,” journalist Peter Savodnik writes in the latest issue of the Bloomberg Businessweek magazine.
This perception is being promoted by “new entrepreneurs” to take advantage of “a huge vacuum in the Rapture market” created by the absence of Harold Camping, the writer suggests.
The 89-year-old Family Radio Network founder had a stroke June 9, around three weeks after the Rapture failed to occur May 21 as predicted by him. Camping is reportedly recovering in a nursing home.
Many in America think the end of the world is near. Surveys show nearly six in 10 white evangelicals believe Jesus will return in judgment by 2050, as opposed to 41 percent of all Americans, according to Religion News Service. Two-thirds of white evangelicals also believe recent natural disasters are signs of the end times. However, many do not perhaps believe in predictions with exact dates.
But some are linking the end times to the debt ceiling “Armageddon,” the Aug. 2 deadline when the Treasury Department will run out of money to pay the bills without further borrowing, if the ceiling is not raised. “If the economy goes, that’ll be fertile soil for the antichrist to take power,” the magazine quotes RaptureReady.com “proprietor” Todd Strandberg as saying.
RaptureReady.com, which cautions against date setting, is the most popular Rapture-preparedness website in the world, and its owner, “part of a new generation of entrepreneurs trying to take advantage of Camping’s absence,” according to the author. “Hitler came out of the Depression. A lot of us believe the antichrist will use the same stepping stone,” reads the second part of Strandberg’s quote.
The scribe suggests that the “new apocalypse establishment” is smarter in business. Unlike Camping, new entrepreneurs are offering an “unprecedented array of doomsday-themed literature, podcasts, survival kits, and other goods and services for navigating the end of times.”
“Jack Van Impe, a televangelist from Troy, Mich., has developed an e-commerce business hawking educational literature such as the Prophetic Guide to the End of Times ($14.95) in addition to DVDs like 11:59: The Countdown (two-discs, $34.95),” he cites as examples.
Impe, the journalist says, is “competing for market share with the Costa Rica-based writer Tim McHyde; Alex Dodson, whose Watchman Radio Hour enjoys a nationwide audience; and evangelical minister and author Tim LaHaye, who has co-written 16 Judgment Day-inspired novels… According to Cheryl Kerwin, senior marketing manager at Tyndale House Publishers, LaHaye’s Left Behind series has sold 63 million copies worldwide.”
The magazine also mentions Keith Preston, owner of Rapture Ready Consulting in Kenton, Ohio which grossed $380,000 in 2009, as developing an app for those who will not be Raptured. “Let’s say 2 million people disappear,” Preston tells the magazine. “You’ve got doctors and police officers, you have IT guys, writers, and politicians. So the problem is, who’s going to do whatever they were doing? You need an app for that.”
“How he plans to sell it from Heaven remains unclear,” remarks the writer.
The Rapture economy even includes heathens, notes Savodnik. “Since most Rapture prophets have traditionally declared pets barred from Heaven, insurance company Eternal Earth-Bound Pets is now offering a 10-year relocation policy. For $135, the company promises to place dogs, cats, bunnies, and so forth with a loving family of atheists who have no hope of being saved.”
If October 22 happens, failing Camping’s prophecy yet again, Rapture enthusiasts will look at 2012, the journalist says. “And this is good news for Harold Camping’s own professional resurrection,” he remarks, concluding with a quote from Dr. William H. Sledge, a Yale University professor of psychiatry: believers in the Rapture tend to be either psychotic or very “suggestible.”
The “industry” is expected to thrive for longer than we thought it could.