Three years ago this June the website known as Eternal Earth-Bound Pets was launched. Catering to the most religiously afflicted, it offered a pet recovery and rescue service that guarantees the pet’s adoption by earthbound atheists should the pet owner find himself suddenly Raptured and with Jesus.
Initially I enlisted the aid of a few internet acquaintances and relatives to come on board and represent their states as rescuer cadre to participate in interviews as the fame of this unprecedented offering became a hot topic with the media.
Radio, TV, bloggers, newspapers and magazines clamored for interviews. From
The publicity spawned one or two clone pet rescue sites.
As poor old Harold Camping’s May 21, 2011 end times prediction approached, Eternal Earth-Bound Pets was such a hot media topic that I was giving interviews every thirty minutes for almost 36 hours straight. With every passing week, the number of states serviced, the number of rescuers I reported as employed, and the number of Rapture believing clients I claimed to have signed became larger and larger, adding to the excitement. It was like chumming the water for note taking / microphone bearing sharks.
The response from the public was over whelming. I received approximately seven thousand emails from freethinkers all over the
The hate mail from Rapture believers offended by me and my service, damning me to eternal torture, declaring me an animal rapist / dog eater, and threatening death and rape (in that order) for me and my wife was interesting to say the least, but not entirely unexpected. It was a confirmation of my long held perspective that extreme religiosity breeds extreme hate, or at least attracts extremist haters. Finally, there were emails from some believers who were actually interested in the service, others who feigned interest ... never to be heard from again.
The bottom line:
Eternal Earth-Bound Pets employs no paid rescuers. It has no clients. It has never issued a service certificate. It has accepted no service contract applications nor received any payments - not a single dollar – in the almost three years of its existence. If I had received a payment my conscience and ethics would have prohibited me from keeping it, as would my Episcopal wife’s ire.
EE-BP is and always has been a poe, a satire, a spoof, a poke at absurd religious belief - a statement and a challenge to believers to belly up to the bar to prove their compassion and genuine commitment to one of their most outlandish interpretations of the bible. And guess what ... they didn’t.
Perhaps I underestimated the intelligence of these born again believers as I fully expected that out of the many millions of US Rapture aficionados I’d have received some significant number of takers. As it was, I had to turn away only two people who seemed genuinely ready to contract for my services. Perhaps Rapturists don’t believe their own hype. Or maybe it was, as I was often told in emails, that their belief that survival during the seven year Tribulation following the Rapture would be so tenuous that they had no confidence in my ability to meet the contract terms. But, more likely it is the inherent disdain theists hold for non-believers, oft vehemently expressed in all cap emails, which kept them away in droves. Atheist is still a dirty word in this country. .
First, I learned a lot about Christians both Rapture believers and non-Rapture believers; their differing perspectives, attitudes, interpretation of doctrine, degrees of acceptance of freethinkers. I made some Christian pen pals with whom I maintain an on again/off again dialogue. I met a lot of atheists, many are now valued facebook friends; a number of them come from the ranks of freethinkers who sincerely wanted to help with the project.
Second, maybe, just maybe, the parody got religious people thinking about just how extreme the whole Rapture concept is; got them to realize that the often referenced “all dogs go to heaven” is just the name of a 1989 animated movie, not Biblical doctrine. Maybe they questioned their depth of devotion to their beloved pets, and wondered what will befall them and why their God would allow it? Maybe.
Third, the site generated Google advertising income that helped support food banks.
Last, but not at all least, EE-BP was a great marketing avenue for my first book, The Atheist Camel Chronicles, which had a chapter that was the genesis for the business concept and which came out almost at the same time EE-BP was launched. Sales benefited enormously from the media attention which brought atheists to the website. Without that media hype my self published book would likely not have reached such a wide audience, an early top seller among amazon’s atheist themed books, and I would not have been encouraged to write my second, The Atheist Camel Rants Again. Indeed, the Eternal Earth-Bound Pets experience may become the basis for a future tome, this time a novel.
Thanks and Mea Culpa.
To those internet friends, New Hampshire friends and neighbors, some very few well known atheist bloggers, and my family who knew about this all along and kept it under their hats, thank you.
To the media who were unconscious of, but eager accomplices to, this little experiment and flight of fantasy, sorry and thanks.
Most of all to all my readers, Facebook friends, fellow members of freethinker groups and organizations, and all compatriots in reason to whom this is coming as something of a surprise and perhaps a little disappointment ... my apologies for the deception; it was necessary to perpetuate the illusion.
While it was fun to think we were hoisting the religiously extreme on their own petard of belief, my friends and followers and ethical Humanists will find it something of a relief to learn that this was a spoof, that no one was hurt, and no one is profiting from the “least among us,” by taking money from those who very likely could least afford it.
Why throw off the veil now?
It seems the State of
The NH Insurance Department will be either disappointed or relieved to find out this is all a fantasy and that no clients exist except in my imagination and on the pages of many hundreds of publications.
I am proactively sharing this info with the media. It will likely inspire lively commentary. But, I wanted all of my friends and readers to hear it from the camel’s mouth first.
In the scheme of things, this entertaining little endeavor wasn’t even a blip on the radar screen when compared to the great spoofs/ hoaxes perpetrated by Saul of Tarsus (AKA
Your brother in reason,
AKA Dromedary Hump, The Atheist Camel