Oopsie! The rapture is actually in October!

Says Harold Camping, the man behind the May 21st rapture nonsense. I wish I were joking:

But Camping said that he’s now realized the apocalypse will come five months after May 21, the original date he predicted. He had earlier said Oct. 21 was when the globe would be consumed by a fireball.

Saturday was “an invisible judgment day” in which a spiritual judgment took place, he said. But the timing and the structure is the same as it has always been, he said.

“We’ve always said May 21 was the day, but we didn’t understand altogether the spiritual meaning,” he said. “May 21 is the day that Christ came and put the world under judgment.”

Isn’t that just so convenient? It’s lovely when you make a testable claim, and then do a whole lot of hand waiving and goal post moving to explain why you were wrong.

I had a great time poking fun at the Rapture – it was basically an atheist holiday. But this just makes me sick. Why? Now Camping can keep scamming people for another five months. And this isn’t just the kind of “lol, gullible people” scamming. People have given away all of their money. People have attempted to kill themselves and their children to avoid post-rapture suffering. This man has ruined lives, and now he gets the chance to do it again.

And on a related note…why do equivalent loonies get quoted as experts, but not rational critics?

Tim LaHaye, co-author of the best-selling “Left Behind” novels about the end times, recently called Camping’s prediction “not only bizarre but 100 percent wrong!” He cited the Bible verse Matthew 24:36, “but about that day or hour no one knows” except God.”

While it may be in the near future, many signs of our times certainly indicate so, but anyone who thinks they `know’ the day and the hour is flat out wrong,” LaHaye wrote on his website, leftbehind.com.

This isn’t an alternative viewpoint journalists can use in an article. LaHaye and Christians who regurgitate that Bible verse believe the same crazy crap, they just don’t put a date on it. Where’s the quote from a skeptic or atheist?

An important rule to remember

My friend Jaki just sent me this shirt as a surprise gift:Jen wearing a shirt that reads 'Don't drink and blog' while holding a bottle of wineThough she didn’t send me the wine. That was a gift from the Imagine No Religion conference. And an aptly named on, too – Big Bang wine from Blasted Church winery.

Guess I’ll have to refrain from blogging for the next hour or so…

Eller offers an apology

A genuine one, this time.

Dr. Eller has offered an apology in the comments, so I wanted to share it:

This is David Eller. I realized soon after the incident that I had violated one of my own most valued principles: just as I ask atheists to stop “speaking Christian,” so I realized that I had as a male unreflectively “spoken male.” It is exceptionally difficult, as anyone will admit, to see one’s own prejudices and failings. I recognize the male privilege on which my reference was founded, and I learned something from the occasion. Actually, I learned two things during the weekend: a Jewish man reminded me that “Judeo-Christian” is a Christian-privileged way of speaking about religion, since Judaism and Christianity are really quite different. So I am more aware now of both the Christian privilege and the male privilege in my speech and thought, and I will try to overcome and eject both.

Thank you. I think he really “gets it” this time, unlike the immediate reaction after the talk. I understand that people can instinctively act defensive when called out, so I’m glad he recognized the problem after having some time to think about it, instead of getting more defensive.

I also want to say thank you to the commenters. I noticed the ratio of Understanding Support to Clueless Sexism was much better than in the past. There were only a couple “You’re just mad because you’re ugly”s and “You’re a frigid bitch who’s trying to suppress my evolved sexuality”s. Maybe I’m scaring the more sexist commenters away, but I like to think that more and more people are “getting it.”

What Greta said

Greta Christina points out a few more problematic elements of David Eller’s talk. I didn’t talk about them because I only half-heard them – I was distracted from carefully crafting my comment during the Q&A. Let’s just say when I heard “Jen” and “boobs,” I was kind of glad I didn’t hear the rest of the statement.
And I’d like to make a quick clarification. When I said “I had three very inappropriate remarks made during the conference about my chest”? That wasn’t the total amount of remarks about my chest – those were just the “very inappropriate” ones that crossed the line. I lost track of the number of boob jokes I received this weekend, thanks to mentioning boobquake on my talk on edginess (at the request of the event organizer).

Which is why I’m done speaking about boobquake at conferences. I’ve already said no to groups who wanted me to talk about it, and suggested another topic. I think we can learn interesting things from what happened, but I’m just sick of how people see it as a green light for sexual harassment. I can only tolerate so much.

We’re not here for eye candy

I’m sitting in the Oakland airport, about to head home from the American Atheist Rapture RAM. Overall, I had a great time. I really enjoyed the talks by Rebecca Watson, Greta Christina, and Matt Dillahunty – who I finally got to meet in person, and who was promptly added to my List of Awesome People. And like always, I enjoyed meeting a bunch of the attendees and some of my blog readers. Kudos to the organizers for a great conference.
But (from the title you knew there had to be a “but”) there was one incident that served as such a good example of the subtle sexism that’s common in the atheist movement, I have to bring it up.

During a talk on how we need to make the atheist movement less about arguing and more of a community, David Eller brought up bloggers and videobloggers as an example of a good aspect of community. With photos of popular atheist videobloggers Laci Green and Cristina Rad (ZOMGitsCriss) on the screen, he quipped that it was so helpful that they’re “pretty” and that we have a “pretty blonde Romanian” on our side. Without any mention of their intellect, wit, or content.

My patience was gone. I had three very inappropriate remarks made during the conference about my chest, and another woman confided in me that a male attendee made an astoundingly inappropriate remark about her appearance. When there was time for Q&A, I purposefully raised my hand. Eventually the mic made it back to me, and I said (paraphrased to the best of my ability):

“I have a brief comment. If you want to make the atheist movement more social, we have to be aware of the concerns of minorities, not insinuating they’re only helpful because they’re pretty and blonde. There are plenty of pretty blondes people can watch – these people are popular because they’re intelligent and witty.”

I barely got the whole statement out because people started applauding and cries of “Thank you!” sprung up across the audience.

Eller then offered a not-pology – saying he obviously knew how witty and intelligent Criss was, but being pretty doesn’t hurt because it can still attract more guys to the movement.

One, when someone calls you out on something stupid you said that obviously upset the majority of the audience, stop at “but” before embarrassing yourself further.

Two, if you are using popular videobloggers as examples because you think they’re intelligent, don’t reduce them to their looks. It blows my mind people need this spelled out for them. It perpetuates the idea that we’re just keeping atheist women around as trophies or booth babes, not because we appreciate their input. Sure, Criss is attractive – but that is irrelevant and inappropriate for a talk on community building at a conference.

Three, the atheist community doesn’t exactly have a problem recruiting men. Nor would I stoop to suggesting we need to recruit hot guys to lure in the ladies to solve our gender problem. It’s insulting, and not to mention heteronormative.

Yep, someone giving a talk on how to improve our community was horrendously out of touch with one of the most important and commonly discussed issues in said community. The irony has not escaped me.

Part of me hates blogging about stuff like this, because I don’t want to promote in-fighting or tarnish an otherwise successful conference with this issue. But the more we let crap like this slide, the more it’s going to get perpetuated. And I don’t want the atheist movement of 2021 to be a room full of white men scratching their heads, wondering what went wrong.

EDIT: Eller has offered an apology. More here.

EDIT 2: For people wondering about tone and exact wording, audio clips of Eller’s statement, my comment, and his reply are up here.

Another rage-filled Damon update

From the Support Damon facebook group (which Damon’s brother is updating):

“This may sound like a petty update but Damon’s parent’s (my parents as well, obviously) threw his possessions outside on their front porch and they have left town on “vacation.” They won’t answer our calls. Currently the only thing missing is his Playstation 3 (that he bought with his own money). I hope that it will turn up. We’re still trying to contact the parents about it.”

Such Christian love. Thank goodness Damon has his siblings (he’s moving in with his brother in Texas) and the outpouring of the atheist community (which has already raised over $9000 in scholarships for him).

Disgusting when someone’s imaginary friend is more important than their own child.

The Rapture is here!!!!

I HAVE PROOF! Look, Jesus himself!I don’t think any of us atheists are getting raptured, but it was pretty awesome for Jesus to at least stop by and say hello. What a nice guy.