Rapture happened, says Camping, but it was invisible

Ladies, it comes down to two choices.

A fun thing to do Saturday was warn your friends about the Rapture predicted by evangelical minster/probable crazy person Harold Camping, then watch as they ascended into heaven got drunk and talked about their dads like usual. Camping performed a series of numerological calculations based on scripture to predict the end of the world to the day, apparently on the assumption that A) neither he nor a 2000 year-old account written 250 years after the fact could possibly be wrong about the day of the week on which Jesus was crucified, or B) there was no way he’d live that long. It’s also possible he realized C) he could always lie about it afterward, in a sort of Rapture-predicting encore. God never closes a door without opening a window,* and Harold Camping now assures us that the Rapture he predicted did happen, but it was invisible. The world will actually end on October 21, exactly six months after the date he originally predict—dammit!

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Times reports absurd difficulty of leaving Scientology

Protestors outside a Scientology center in the UK. According to the church, Xenu was the leader of the Galactic Confederacy, who brought billions of his subjects to Earth in order to kill them with hydrogen bombs; their lingering essences collect on modern-day humans, causing psychological and physical illnesses. Dude, I know.

The New York Times ran a fascinating article about the Church of Scientology this weekend, detailing accusations of abusive practices by church officials and, more interestingly, the “kafkaesque” difficulty of leaving the organization. The article focuses on Chris and Christie Collbran, a married couple who were both raised as Scientologists and subsequently joined Sea Org, the religious order responsible for administering the church. The Collbrans’ personal struggles are illuminating, as is the revelation that—despite a spokesman’s assurance that church membership numbers “millions” in the US and “millions” abroad—the American Religious Identification Survey estimates there are only 25,000 Scientologists in the country. What is perhaps most striking about the article, though, is the realization that the Collbrans were raised in the faith. Scientology markets itself as “the only major religion founded in the 20th century,” and we tend to think of it as a fad that people get into in Los Angeles, like Trader Joe’s or hard drugs. The Collbrans and others like them are a reminder that Scientology is now in its second generation, and a portion of its adherents were raised in the truth of L. Ron Hubbard since childhood. After being paid $17 a week, forced to sign confessions, ostracized by her family and presented with a “freeloader bill” for $90,000, Christie Collbran still believes in Scientology. It’s just the church that’s corrupt, she says. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how a religion takes hold.

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