After the Rapture, God will reward the suffering of the righteous with infinite, indescribable joy.
But what of their beloved companions?
Pets — no matter how cuddly — lack souls. While their pious masters are frolicking with Jesus, loyal puppies, adorable kitties, and stalwart goldfish will find themselves alone in a terrifying hell on Earth. These little cuties will be forever condemned to spend the rest of their tiny, miserable lives with homosexuals, Catholics, and the liberal elite.
Two years ago, a New Hampshire retiree named Bart Centre decided to do something about it. Centre, more commonly known by his nom-de-blog “The Atheist Camel,” cobbled together a nationwide network of 44 pet-loving nonbelievers to come to the rescue if and when the big day comes. For a nominal fee, he and his Rapture Rescuers will take in pets whose Christian masters have evaporated. Their enterprise, Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, has over 250 customers willing to pay $135 to give their fuzzy charges a chance of surviving the coming tribulations.
I called Centre at home in Alstead.
When did you get the idea for June of 2009, right after my book [The Atheist Camel Chronicles] came out. There was a chapter in my book that talked about the Mayan end-times prediction . . . I said, “There’s gotta be some way to parlay this into some kind of financial benefit.” A buddy of mine, by coincidence, sent me a link to a blog in England where a woman was willing to rescue cats in the event of the Rapture. Well, I said, “There it is.” Nobody’s got more fundamentalist evangelical Christians who believe in the Rapture than we do. There’s a buck to be made there. . . We started in eight states, with six Rapture Rescuers. Now we have over 40 rescuers — 44 to be exact — and over 250 clients in the 26 states that we cover.
We never advertised. We don’t scam people. We don’t knock on doors, or anything like that. The media attention kept coming. In February of 2010, Business Week picked us up and did a whole-page article. That really lit a fire under things, but then the volume drops off again until the next [article]. Except this May 21st Rapture thing has really given us another shot in the arm.
Who are these people using your service?
Most of them are Southern, most are middle-aged and above. They’re very devout people who really do believe in this . . . They love their animals, and I would say they have more of a trust in atheists than a goodly portion of the rest of the evangelical fundamentalists who have not taken up our service. Other than that, nothing really that stands out.
How do you choose your Rapture Rescuers?
Initially, it was just friends and family, and then Internet connections with people who are on atheist chat rooms or atheist blogs. Most of our emails are not from believers. Most of our e-mails are from atheists who think this is the greatest thing since sliced bread, and they want in on the action. We have over 8000 applications — people all over the world, every English-speaking country and every state in the Union — but we don’t necessarily want to grow that fast.