It’s all fun and games until someone gets Left Behind {can we stop with the Rapture jokes, already?}

The Rapture jokes? I’m so OVER them now.

Look, I grew up in a system like that. Some/most of our beliefs garnered mockery. And yeah, I’ve had my own share of joking this past week. But now, something nastier is arising: the jokes sound very close to cynical, dismissive, how-could-they-be-such-delusional-brainwashed-idiots?

I’m able to make light of the things I experienced inside an abusive, controlling church. I can laugh about some of the craziness now. But at the time, it was NOT funny. It was real. It was hurtful. It was devastating.

I’m especially dismayed by some of the Christians I see cracking jokes and making fun of the May 21 Rapture believers. That’s sad and unnecessary. Some of these people lost their entire life savings. Families were ripped apart. People quit their jobs.

For these people right now? It’s NOT funny.

I think as Christians we can do better. Do we really need to take the pot-shot at the easy target?

When I was stuck inside a cult, it wasn’t the mockers who earned my trust or made me re-think my beliefs. It was the person who took the time to talk to me, to listen, to be patient with my confusion.

I remember kindness.

And jokes aren’t kind when they are at another person’s expense.

Lastly, do we Christians really think we’re exempt from this kind of mockery? Sure, maybe we didn’t believe the world was ending on May 21, but we have PLENTY of beliefs (Virgin birth? Resurrection? Miracles?) that seem crazy and delusional to non-believers.

Instead of mockery, we Christians should extend kindness and compassion.

Because that’s what I needed when I was a delusional, brainwashed idiot.

  • Nicole

    I read this essay and thought it was really spot-on in how a Christian should be thinking about this event.

  • DebbieQ

    You are absolutely correct.

  • Theresa in Alberta

    I really wish the press would NOT give that preacher any more mention, enough already!!

  • Leanne

    I am in total agreement that nasty comments and jokes are completely uncalled for. No argument there! And we should have compassion on those who thought they were out of here on Saturday and then weren’t, because Jesus still loves them as well.

    As for the joking, yeah, I’ve done my share. As in, “oh, crap – itS 6:05 and Jesus didn’t come back – now I have to go make dinner!” and to a friend on FB, “Hmm…I am kind of feeling a Thief in the Night marathon right about now.” This was all on Saturday evening; by Sunday morning it was pretty much out of my system :).

    I do think that for every joke, there is an element of fear/guilt/wondering in the back of our minds. I mean, what person who grew up evangelical DOESN’T have their own “rapture story”? I think that a lot of the joking among evangelical/former evangelical Christians did stem, deep inside, from, “What if it is true? And what if 6:00 comes and the news shows that 200,000 people have vanished from the earth, and I’m still here watching the report?” No matter how dumb it sounds, whether I thought Harold Camping was a kook or not, my stomach was doing a few somersaults come Saturday evening. And rather than give in to my fear, I cracked jokes – as a coping mechanism.

    But I agree – it’s Tuesday now – we’re all here…let’s move on and do whatever it is that God put us on this earth to do…

  • Ruth Ann

    So true. All of us who are Christians have to endure ridicule and marginalization in the growing secular culture. So we who live in glass houses ought to avoid throwing stones. I love my faith and believe in its teachings. But I’m tired of the “I’m better than the rest” kind of thinking. To the extent that I’m like that, I’m trying to be aware and to change. God bless you, Elizabeth.

  • priest’s wife

    yes yes yes

  • Elizabeth

    Yes, yes, and yes! I’ve been avoiding rapture jokes – both before and after May 21 – because it makes me uncomfortable to mock another person’s religious beliefs. I may not believe in a rapture we can predict, the same way I don’t believe that Mohammed was a prophet of the Lord or that animal spirits walk the earth. I believe what I believe, but I have no proof. And because of that, I’m not comfortable mocking other people’s un-provable beliefs. To me, unfounded, shattered beliefs are, rather than a mockery, a tragedy – a tragedy of devastation caused by untruth, but a tragedy nonetheless.

  • Holly

    Your post is spot on. Christianity should be about love, forgiveness and compassion, not ridicule and mockery. We should be praying for those who believed that they don’t lose their faith over this.

  • chelsea

    aren’t you calling them all “delusional, brainwashed idiots” at the end still? That seems a little bit off from the rest of the theme of the post, how did you mean that?

    • elizabeth

      Um. Read the post, yo. I’m calling MYSELF that–you know, taking back the label they slapped on me. I’m not calling anyone else that. It’s called a play on words. Dude.

      • Rose

        Hey Elizabeth I actually read the sentence the same way Chelsea did. You were comparing yourself to Harold Camping’s followers earlier in the post so it did seem like you were referring back to them when you called yourself a “delusional, brainwashed idiot.”

        • elizabeth

          OK. thanks for letting me know.

  • Rea

    I wonder if we think by mocking ‘those people’ we are trying to show the world how sane and rational the rest of us are? “See, look! We aren’t all crazy like that!” But the rest of the world doesn’t see the distinction. Like you said, we believe in preposterous stuff and you don’t have to look very far to find people mocking Christianity as a whole, seeing this as yet another symptom of a people deluded into believing there is a God. All the sarcasm, mockery and pot shots in the world will not convince ONE of those people that we aren’t every bit as deluded as Camping. So maybe it’s time to try putting on love instead.

    • Naomi

      Yes, I think the problem is that too many (American) Christians think that kindness=agreement/endorsement. So the only way we know how to express disagreement is through mockery…hardly the way to build healthy relationships or dialogue.

      “When I was stuck inside a cult, it wasn’t the mockers who earned my trust or made me re-think my beliefs. It was the person who took the time to talk to me, to listen, to be patient with my confusion.” Pure gold!

  • Heidi Stephen

    LOVE this. I completely agree.
    I feel SO bad for everyone who has been so devastated by this…I can’t imagine how they are feeling right now…

  • Byrde

    I have avoided the rapture-related jokes because I know that the people who believe this honestly believe it. And because I have plenty of things people can, and do, make fun of.
    And because I believed that it wasn’t going to happen and that meant that there were going to be hurt, befuddled people wandering around right about now.
    This isn’t even about Scripture people, it’s about common respect and courtesy.

  • Keith

    While I don’t think that mocking is particularly productive for atheists, nor particularly nice generally, I do think it’s important that believers be exposed to the scientific method, and to critical thinking in general, so that they can at least understand how strange their beliefs appear from this framework, and how little evidence really exists in their favor. Perhaps this would lead to less dogmatism and more moderation.

    • elizabeth

      I’m sorry, are you suggesting that being a believer implicitly means not having been exposed to the scientific method or to critical thinking in general?

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  • Julie

    So, true. Here’s an example of what you’re speaking to. I know there was probably more to this, but nonetheless, a very sad ending. Wonder what would have happened had he had someone to trust. Thanks for this post.