End of the World: My Time with the Missionaries

Call it a mission of understanding. We were never rude. Never disrespectful. I’m an atheist. Like the missionaries of Family Radio (Family Stations, Inc.), I am a member of a small group of people who are distrusted and hated by the rest of America. My friend Brian and I infiltrated the missionaries of Caravan 2 in Beaumont, Tx. Not to mess up their work, but to attempt to understand why they think and act the way they do. We spent the majority of our time with a woman named Bea. Bea is a woman with strong convictions who is following her beliefs, which is why we find her such a tragic character. She is a widow and claims that at the end of her husband’s life, he was very sick. He often had trouble sleeping due to his illness. Bea claims she turned on Family Radio one evening, and her husband went to sleep peacefully. This became her routine.

Bea speaks passionately about “god’s plan.” We had to resist shooting glances at each other as the conversation took us deeper and deeper into the psyche of this disillusioned woman. It’s tragic to see people, who are very generous and welcoming, give up their entire lives because of the thoughts of a madman. Bea speaks very fondly of this madman, referring to him as Mr. Camping and basing her entire life on his ridiculous words.

She has been shunned by her entire family. She spent time telling us about the ridicule she received from her son and grandchildren. They have told her several times that if she continues to speak the way she does, they will not be around her. But, she cannot escape her convictions — the drive of a corrupted mind that leads her to abandon her family. Her life. She said:

“I can’t control what people say. I can’t make them believe. I can only warn them. Everything after that is in god’s hands. My family said, ‘He [Harold Camping] has done this before.’ That’s not for me to decide. I have to go where god leads me.”

We cannot forget the enormity of the situation. We cannot forget the reality of every “prophet” in our short history, because like the other wicked minds of history, Harold Camping’s wallet is getting fatter as he spews his deceptive venom onto the sheep. People across America are selling everything they own. When asked if he would return the money on May 22, Camping said, “What they give, they give willingly.”

The media reports are all the same. A smirking news anchor briefly tells the story of the wacky missionaries in a way that allows us to chuckle. We laugh it off and forget that there are people behind the charade. I am genuinely sympathetic. I will certainly be thinking about Bea, as well as every other member of this “mission,” on May 22nd with a heavy heart. For most of America, it is another day. We will hear about it on the news. A bunch of crazies were wrong. We’ll ridicule them and continue on with our lives, because the insanity never reached our doorstep. And Bea, along with the other missionaries, will have to return to whatever is left of the life they left — to the ones that ridiculed them…because they believed.

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18 Responses to End of the World: My Time with the Missionaries

  1. Genilza says:

    Since there is so many fields of seaiipltces that I have a choice of, I still really can’t choose one. So I am going base on my personal experiences. My original goal back in high school and maybe even before that, was to work in a Neonatal ICU! I had a brother that passed before he had his first birthday from heart complications, and that year I spent a lot of time at hospitals with my parents. My goal the first couple of years was to work with babies just like him. That was until I had my own children, I would of still loved to have worked in that career field but the heart ache I would most likely endure when one of those babies did not make it home. I could not have handled!On to more positive experiences, I have worked with the elderly and Geriatrics interests me very much. Being surrounded with people that have lived a fulfilled life is so much more rewarding. Even though at times it is the ending stages of their lives, and it is sad when someone does pass. It’s less of a heartache to know that most of the time they are ready to move on. They are still very dependent on you and when you are able to help them with their needs that’s the most rewarding of all, plus you form a special relationship with the patients and their families.

  2. Cocopea says:

    Hi there,

    Just wanted to say that I am a Christian that believes in the Pre-Trib Rapture. I also have an atheist ex-boyfriend, so I can see it from both vantage points.

    I really don’t agree with anyone that publicly announces and promotes a day for the Rapture or End of the World. In fact, I just wrote about this on my blog. I also don’t agree with the way you have pretended to be Christians in order to endear yourself to these people. I think that is wrong, but sadly seems with the latest NPR scandal, this is the new way of reporting…..

    However, I do appreciate that even though your blog is satire and sarcasm, you seem most human in how you are relating your experience. You don’t appear to be mean or cruel about it, as you are acknowledging a sense of pity, yet wonder about the Harold followers. Thank you for that!

    And I agree, religion has ruined many lives and perceptions. I call myself a Christian because that is what I am a “Christ Follower”. It does not even require “religion”. Just a personal relationship with Him. And trust me, I will be honest enough to tell you, just like any relationship, it has it ups and downs…lol….but I don’t follow any ritual or rites. I attend church when I can, and I pray always without needing any devices or props. I believe the word of God %100 percent, but like many of you, I’ve had tons of questions and make no bones about asking them. In fact, I don’t even try to be perfect, and I am sure I have offended many Christians with my writings of being real and honest, but whatever, I just tell it as it is.

    My belief is simple…I just do. My faith is strong… nothing will change my mind. God is so real to me, I can’t imagine my life without Him. I do believe in Heaven and Hell, and I choose Heaven. I don’t argue and debate with folks, I just present my beliefs. In the end, I do think it is a choice and I just leave it at that…..

    I too will feel bad for these folks on May 22nd if we are still here. I also feel bad for other Christians that have latched on to this date, and I really feel bad for those who may have even come to Christ as a direct result of this teaching. But I won’t ridicule any of them. The only date that will ever matter, is the date the Rapture “actually” occurs. At that point, those left behind will have to deal with it and what is to come. There won’t be much funny then, but no doubt folks will find tons of stuff to write about. Meanwhile, my blog will set idle, and those that stumble upon it can either decide I was right or wrong, but I won’t be here to confirm it…lol.

    Anyway, just wanted to add my two cents. And I am anxious to find out what else you have to say about your experience. I really want to know honestly, if it cast any doubts upon your own non-belief? Has it caused you to rethink things? Has anything stirred in your conscious, gnawed at you? Something you can’t just put your finger on? If it has, will you be honest enough to share it as well? I hope so!

    Thanks!

    • Cocopea says:

      Correction: I meant to say I will feel bad for those that come to Christ as a result of this teaching, but then fall away once that date comes and goes. That is why it is so important that if you are going to follow Christ, you follow Him and not man or what man says. Thanks.

      • Anthony L. says:

        I understand why you disagree with what we did. I will say, however, that while many may consider what we did dishonorable or immoral, it’s us, not the Christians, who are recognizing them as human beings. Look at the channel 6 news (Beaumont) website to see the horrible things Christians are saying.

        • Cocopea says:

          Hi there Anthony, nice to meet you!

          Yes, I know, I’ve read quite a bit on the net about their reactions. And I too have encountered some very nasty Christians. I have often said if I were not already a Believer, chances are based on some of those encounters I would not become one. Some of them make ya just want to run right to Hell and never look back…LOL. And I am sure I’ve had my days where I tossed down my Bible, pulled off my ear rings and said, “I’ll be right back Jesus”…lol…the difference is that I strive to be a tad bit better…and keep striving no matter how many times I fail.

          But not all of us are like that. And those that are hating on Harold like they are, are probably some of the same ones clinging to every apostate word they can get hold to. Real Christians or not? I can’t judge…But again, that is why although I do not agree with how this all came to be, I do appreciate the sympathy you have expressed thus far, along with some of those commenting. Truly I do!

          Thanks!

          • Anthony L. says:

            Cocopea,

            Thank you so much for your comments. At the end of your first comment, you asked if I felt something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. The short answer is no. But thank you for the question. The reason the answer is no has a great deal to do with my journey to atheism. I plan on posting about that soon, so please keep reading.

        • Damir says:

          Our lovely duheatgr Madison Olivia was born on September 13, 2007! I have attached our testimonial letter and a photo of Madison sporting her Chapel Hill T-Shirt! She is so cute. Thanks for mentioning about Dr. Berger. Good to know that he cares about the patient so much. I will go to him, if i face any problem. Congratulation to you and bless for your baby.

    • Konstantin says:

      (I’m not sure if I’m posting this in the coercrt place as I was unable to post it from the Dashboard.)The type of physician I would like to work with is a gerontologist. A gerontologist specializes in caring for the elderly. I have a fondness for our older population. They built out society and lived in a time that many of us can learn from. I would take great pride in caring for them as they age. In my opinion, working with a doctor that shares my passion and excitement would be the ideal work environment.The type of physician I would not be as excited to work with would be a proctologist. To be completely honest, I just don’t think I have what it takes to be in that environment. It’s important to be professional in any medical environment. I believe my sense of humor would not allow me to be as professional as I would need to be. I would also prefer not to work with ophthalmologist. Several years ago I spent a week with my grandfather at a specialist to have cataracts removed. I found it very difficult to watch the videos of my grandfather’s up coming procedures. It wasn’t difficult caring for my grandfather after surgery, but I must admit the pre-op was an experience that I would not want to assist in on a daily bases.

  3. justmeangie says:

    What a sad situation. It is often easier to laugh at the ridiculousness that religion creates instead of actually sympathizing with the people who are harmed by it. Bea’s story broke my heart.

    Thanks for promoting compassion and for giving us something to think about.

    • Anthony L. says:

      Thank you so much for commenting Angie. It is important to understand the mental torment that can be caused by religion. I don’t hate the religious. I have great compassion for humanity. I feel very sorry for the people who suffer at the hands of religion.

      • justmeangie says:

        Definitely! It is sad to see so many indoctrinated and I can certainly relate to the mental torment (having made the journey from fundamentalist Christian to atheist myself). Religion creates unnecessary guilt and shame and worry in the individuals who adhere to it, and it creates hostility towards “outsiders” as well–pretty much a no-win situation in my opinion.

        • Nate says:

          Yes! It does create unnecessary guilt and shame, and that just makes it harder for people to get out from under it. And the hostility towards others is what I continually come up against. When I talk to my family about these things and mention all the countless people who would go to Hell under their belief system, they often reply that they can’t worry about all those other people. But as Christians, shouldn’t they?!

          • justmeangie says:

            The guilt and shame and social repercussions really do make it harder to leave religion. It took years before I could actually say out loud that I was an atheist. I felt so dirty and horrible for even thinking the “A word” due to all the guilt and shame I felt. Even now, I still feel a twinge of guilt when I say it…

            And hell is a horrible idea. I find it difficult to understand how anyone can believe a loving god who would allow billions to be tortured for all eternity. And the criteria for avoiding this torture…that makes it even worse. Doesn’t matter if you are the nicest person in the world if you don’t follow the “right” religion.

            I wrote an entry a while back about a parent who is constantly concerned that her children will burn in hell for all eternity if they do not follow her religion (accepting Jesus as their “Lord and Savior”). What an sad way to live. 😦

            • Anthony L. says:

              Can you link it here? Blog is growing since this adventure. I think it would tie in well.

              • justmeangie says:

                No problem. http://beingskeptical.wordpress.com/2010/06/03/scare-tactics/

                What religion does to people really is sad…on so many levels.

              • Jaja says:

                Dermatology didn’t interest me that much until I took Clinicals 1 and we wachted a video of the Medical Assistant cleaning a wound and we did competencies on how to send lab tests off, how to clean wounds, how to look for infection, and how to remove staples and that all fascinated me. It seems like in dermatology, you could get a variety of skin situations and they are all important. I think that I would be more involved with the patient and assist the physician a lot which I like.I think the physician I would least want to work for would be a urologist just because I don’t think I would get to do as much on the clinical side besides taking vitals but I am interested in many specialties so I am eager to hear what you are all interested in as well!

  4. Anthony L. says:

    Thank you for your comment Nate. I wanted to post this, because I’ve followed the media coverage of the caravans. The “real” Christians are calling them wackos and laughing at them. I cannot help but think about the terrible heartache these people are going to feel on May 22.

  5. Nate says:

    I’m glad you posted this, and I’m looking forward to what Brian’s thoughts are as well. I agree that we often get so irritated at the dogmatic wackiness that some individuals exhibit, we forget that they’re human. As atheists/agnostics/skeptics, we need to remind ourselves to be as compassionate and sympathetic as possible with those we talk to. Most of them have been taught that “human reasoning” is faulty and evil, so they can’t let themselves see reality. We need to be patient if we hope to make a difference with them.

    Great post — thanks for sharing it.

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