AtheistConnect Infiltrates End of World Missionaries; Makes Smoothies

Names of individuals who are not part of AtheistConnect have been changed for this story. While this post conforms to our usual style of satiric and slightly aggressive,  this story and the events had a profound affect on the authors. As such, each will publish a personal and serious post regarding his experiences in developing this story. Those statements will be posted on March 10, 2011.

Yesterday, we at AtheistConnect proved our immorality when we infiltrated Family Radio’s Caravan 2 in Beaumont, TX. This group of ‘believers’ is traveling across the Southern United States to inform the world that “the end of the world is almost here!” (Good news folks, the other three world notification caravans are also in the USA — the world is safe) Project Caravan is one of four groups traveling across the U.S. to spread the word of lunatic Harold Camping (his name is the same, since it’s all over his website at Family Radio.)

What the hell were we thinking?

We could not turn down this pristine opportunity to infiltrate these minds, and much to our surprise the stomachs, of our favorite end of the world cult. And let’s face it, we only have until May 21st. Right? After a four hour drive, we spent an hour and a half with people who can only be described as remarkable. It was incredibly difficult locating the caravan. Multiple calls ending in “God Bless!” led us to Walgreens, where Caravan 2 had a description of our truck and was ready to meet us with open arms. After a quick stop to rip the Darwin Fish off the bumper, we were ready to meet our contact in the group. It is difficult to describe exactly how we felt when we pulled into the parking lot. Three RV’s covered in artistic propaganda provided us with an immediate realization of exactly what we had gotten ourselves into. Our stomachs turned from a mixture of being terrified and disgusted.

Brian L. sporting his free shirt in the End Times RV

Meeting the ‘believers’ was culture shock, to say the least, but we played our parts well. There were hugs and exchanges of “god bless you.” (ours feigned, a sentiment theirs seemed to reflect also, oddly enough.) They thanked Jesus that we found them. If we weren’t so synical, this might have bothered us. The initial feeling was absolute fear. Would they expose us as phonies at first glance? Surely, two sane people would stick out amongst the crazies. Nope. In fact, we fed them BS from the top of our head, and they bought every word. We claimed we’d spent our lives doing missionary work, and we came from family’s who listened to Family Radio. Something most people learn in their lifetime, when lying, the less you give the better. Something they don’t, when lying to a religious person, tell them your whole life story, just make sure it’s fake. They could not shut up about their lives and their praise, so we had to follow suit. While this dug us deeper into a pit, it allowed us deeper into the rabbit hole.

Anthony L. making smoothies for the True Believers

The ‘missionaries’ seemed almost desperate to find like-minded believers — accepting our arrival with the gratitude that can only be likened to the acceptance of the Trojan Horse. They gave us tee shirts, bumper stickers, and reading material. We quickly dawned the tee shirts, talked our way out of covering our vehicle with bumper stickers, and stifled laughter at the titles of the pamphlets (Gay Pride: Planned by God as a Sign of the End). We ingrained our acceptance of the prophecy by sharing our knowledge of finer details. We had studied familyradio.com carefully. It seemed we knew more than they about the teachings of Mr. Camping. That’s right, Mr. Camping. We casually called him Harold, a near mistake when they mentioned his name with the reverence of the Lord himself. We heard their stories. Jay, a Beaumont resident, invited the Caravan missionaries into his home and fed them. He is days away from quitting his job and joining them on the road, because there’s only one thing to do when the end is near — cast all responsibilities aside and throw your life away (End’s up we were wrong about the orgy).

Our Brothers and Sisters in Christ

Every minute doing the ‘Lord’s work’ seemed an eternity. When Don, leader of the radio congregation, announced it was time to go, we began to feel the weight coming off our shoulders. We were minutes away from peeling out of the parking lot and escaping back to our heathen lives when we were asked to stay put for another half-hour to allow time for Channel 6 News to arrive. It was during this time that we sucked it up and did the true digging. What is the best way to hide in a camper? Offer to help a sweet little old lady make smoothies. We had been invited primarily into Bea’s shared RV and it had been while she was making lunch. What was for lunch? A banana, strawberry, mango and almond milk smoothie. Is such a healthy diet necessary when the world is ending? Who knows, but it gave us an out from the large group and an in to the mind of the individual. Bea’s story is too difficult to explain here. We will dedicate a post to her tomorrow. When the camera crew had left, we inched our way toward the AtheistMobile, or common truck without the Darwin Fish, but escape seemed impossible. Ron wanted to give us his cell phone in case we got lost. Don tried to give us a radio. Vicky wanted us to take her camera to provide her with photos of the back of the convoy, because even during the apocalypse, pictures are important. The mission was turning to dust in our hands, but after several “No”s and even

The things we saw. What the hell is wrong with this town?!!

more “uh”s, we jumped in the truck free of all Believer Technology. As we looked at each other in the truck, we could only smile as the escape plan was finally within grasp. Brian L., who is about as close as one can get to a super villain, stomped on the gas and skidded out of the parking lot, leaving a smoky, black goodbye behind us. We weaved through roads we had never seen or heard of until we felt we would be safe from pious vengeance. Evasion had become a specialty after certain non-science based churches with the word science in their name had followed him in the past. Not that Christian Scientist one, but the one where they combined the second half of “technology” with science…which we can’t mention by name. The excitement, frustration, and nervousness faded as we stood under the shade of a giant, dalmatian-spotted fire hydrant. The irony that we’d done nothing more than meet a group of Christians who’d placed a date on the end times was not wasted on us. We realized that what we’d seen, what we’d done, was completely different than what we’d expected.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Atheism, Life, News, Religion, Thoughts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to AtheistConnect Infiltrates End of World Missionaries; Makes Smoothies

  1. Phillip Osfer says:

    Anthony and Brian,

    Much as I’m sure you’re both patting yourselves on the back for this, it’s nothing to be proud of. If you really think these people are as deluded and foolish as you say, then what’s the point of this blog post? Isn’t it already self evident by your standards?

    Nothing of substance is written here, there is no detailed explanation of why they believe this, or what their actions are to spread any message other than a false happiness in doom. If there was a shred of journalistic integrity in this poor attempt at a gonzo piece, it might at least describe something other than how obviously threatened you were. It’s okay though, because they are just a bunch of crazies right?

    No. This is not a Fred Phelps group screaming out hate slogans outside a soldiers funeral or high school and college productions of the “Laramie Project”. These are people in the crappiest economic and social climate in years clinging to religion because they need something to turn to, they are desperate for it. Most of them are elderly as you pointed out, and believe me, when you get to be the same age you’ll be just as scared of how much the world has changed around you as well. Maybe instead of sitting back in lofty judgment you should attempt to understand them? You know, in the name of peace and humanity, maybe even humility, show these poor deluded old people how the gays and athiests are something other than a bunch of monsters under the bed?

    Instead, you purposefully deceived these people in order to ridicule and point out how they’re the “sickness” of the world. Solving nothing. Your actions change nothing, helping no one; taking small comfort in snickering at them. You don’t have the balls to confront them on peaceful terms with honesty, and you don’t have the integrity to admit that at least they believe passionately in something.

    I dare you to admit that you’re part of the same problem.

    • Phillip,

      Please note two things. This blog is ridicule, that is the point of it. And that you have obviously not read the reflections. I act as a spokesman for the atheist community daily. I have started college campus groups that encourage open discussion and stood on the steps of the capital speaking. I always blame religion over the religious for the actions taken but that does not absolve the people from their actions. I have confronted thousands of people on peaceful terms. I have sat in churches for hours to get 10 minutes to speak, I have spent weekends with the pious to befriend them.

      The problem is they are always fake. Every group wants to represent themselves better than they really are. To be accepted as a person of equal mind set evades this defense. We did nothing to harm them, we did nothing to hurt them. We simply entered their lives as equals, and left mysteriously an hour and a half later. When we did this we had a hard choice. Do we only publish feelings and what we learned or do we hold true to our cause and keep the humor? We had to keep the humor. But we followed up with the real important information. But I think no topic is above reproach. Have I been ridiculed before? Many times. It is part of life. But we earnestly went on a quest to understand these people, we achieved that. Many people seem to have recognized that having read our other posts.

      As to the charge about my integrity and ability to face up to these people, I have admitted in my post that I would like to. I have no problems telling them what I have done even after I did it. Am I part of the problem? No, because the problem is ignorance. The problem is lack of acceptance. Please be sure to read everything before commenting, as the foreword clearly stated that there was real substance in follow up posts. And realize that life is not above reproach, most anything should be fair game for humor. While I laugh at what they do, I sorrow for what they suffer. For I believe passionately about helping people.

    • Anthony L. says:

      Phillip,

      I understand what you’re saying. I’m not angry at you for saying it. Unfortunately, you’re comment is on the “adventure” portion of this story. Please understand that this was a very personal experience to us. I hope you read our reflections. Everything I did was worth it. I’m not ashamed of it, because it allowed me to see them in a different way. Unfortunately, telling them I’m an atheist would only have made them want to distance themselves. Now, I have respect for them and I care about what happens to them.

    • Fernando says:

      You know, sometimes these tnhigs are just the oddball ideas of individual mission presidents. In my mission, one of the local counselors to the mission president was also a prior mission president, who had served in South America. On a pilot program, missionaries in the mission rented a room from a member family in their area, rather than a free-standing apartment. In one ward I was serving, the member-landlord family actually rented a downstairs apartment to the missionaries, rather than just a bedroom.This counselor to the mission president lived in the ward. He took it upon himself to visit the member-landlord, and inform her that under no circumstances was she to turn on heat or air conditioning in the section of the house rented to missionaries. She was never to feed the missionaries, etc. He told her that this was because the missionaries are here to suffer! Sadly, this woman was highly offended by his words. As you might expect, she ignored his directives entirely (and boy, was she a great cook!). The missionaries knew the demeanor of this counselor, and universally laughed it off.On the note above, about members not feeding, etc., unless they have an investigator present: This same counselor also believed that missionaries should never attend any church meetings or events, other than sacrament meeting, unless they had an investigator with them. He wasn’t able to convince the mission president to make that a firm rule, but he certainly made it known in the stake where he lived. As missionaries, we did attend ward functions, to build good relations with the members. This counselor would show up, and as you might expect, made tnhigs a touch uncomfortable. He had been somewhat intimidating to past elders in the area.I found a great way to fix the problem. You see, he made the mistake just once, of claiming he had some referrals for us to teach referrals he never seemed to actually provide. So, every time I saw this counselor at a ward function (where I knew he didn’t approve of us attending), I immediatly went up to him, greeted him warmly, and asked if he had those referrals he’d promised us! I never had to deal with his criticisms.

    • A psychiatrist is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. I have a bachelor’s degree in the social services field. For several years, I have worked with children who have been diagnosed with mental disorders. It is upsetting to see children victimize at an early age and even more disturbing to see them as predators as early as 5 years of age, however knowing that I am doing my part to assist them in becoming functioning youths and adults is rewarding. The empathy, confidentiality and maturity of a medical assistant are definitely needed in this area. I enjoy establishing a rapport with these clients and helping them to find adequate coping skills to deal with their disorders, therefore I would like to work for a psychiatrist.I would not like to work for an emergency physician for several reasons. I will explain a few. Patients who come to the emergency center typically have serious injuries or trauma. I would not like to have my mind constantly focused on who is coming thru the door and how sever the prognosis is. Knowing myself, I know that would be my focus and I would not be very productive. Also, in the emergency room the staff has to be prepared for anything, I would prefer an area that focuses on a particular specialty. Most importantly, I do not wish to see excessive amounts of blood loss on a regular basis. Actually, not even a minimal amount of blood loss on a regular basis. Giving my opinion and thoughts about this specialty, I would not be an effective employee.

  2. Xcntrik says:

    Anthony and Brian,

    Thanks for these articles. It is obvious that you are both primarily concerned for the victims of this scam. I share that concern, knowing that May 22 is going to be a very emotional day for many Campingites, who have sold or given away much, if not everything, they own.

    May 21, 2011 could very well be the end of the world for some of these followers, and that is the saddest part of this entire debacle. Hopefully, it will cause others to dig deeper into the history of Christianity, where they can find many of the answers to their questions.

    If you guys are ever in the Beaumont area again, get in touch with me, I’ll buy the coffee.

    • Xcntrik,

      Thanks for getting us! Seems we rubbed some people the wrong way. I think the members of Family Radio will need a lot of support come the end of their world and whether it comes from religion or not I could care less. The problem is to many believers these people are shunned as lepers of the religious community. They are hardly accepted as one of their own. Maybe we can do something to help them when the time comes.

      And I will take you up on that coffee next time the end of the world comes around.

  3. Rimjob Bob says:

    Old Rimmy thinks you guys would get a kick out of this:

    http://www.quickmeme.com/Advice-God/

    • Old Rimmy knows our humor well.

    • Jatt says:

      Well, it was easier for me beucsae one of my best friends lived in Tokyo so I had somewhere to stay when I got there. That definitely took the edge off.But seriously, as you probably know, most schools only hire in person. So you’re kinda limited yourself to only a handful of companies (and most of them are in rural Japan) by only applying from abroad.Then again, what makes Japan a better country to work in than Korea, is that you can always get a job and a visa and then quit when you find another (better) job. Your visa is good for up to a year regardless of whether you quit or get fired. Plus you can work multiple jobs, which is always nice.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s