Left Behind by those who Judged

One of my colleagues sent me a link to what is by far one of the most disturbing websites I think I have ever seen (and I had a friend who used to work very hard to try and creep me out). It’s safe for work, but your reaction may or may not be. The web site is You’ve Been Left Behind. It is a for-fee “service” that stores up to 250 MB of files and then offers to send out those files to up to 62 email addresses 6 days after Rapture. This website bothers me on so many different levels that I am having trouble expressing myself.

It all starts with the premise that those subscribing are saved and going to heaven and that the 62 people they are leaving email for are not, and are destined to go to hell. It is a good business model – take the money of the good saved Christinas…. But this requires one to judge, and to know the true heart of others. Um, even if you are a Christian, isn’t judging a sin and doesn’t the Bible say only God can see a person’s soul?

This is only a minor criticism among many. Next we have the way it works: The software behind this site is set to automatically fire if it isn’t logged into for 3 straight days by 3 of the 5 staff around the world. We are about to move into a period of high solar activity. This means there is a fairly good chance our Sun, in its inconstant glory, may decide to send a Coronal Mass Ejection our way and eat many telecommunications systems and large chunks of the power grid. It is highly conceivable to me that the server farm could get isolated from the 5 globally distributed folks for 6 days, at which point emails of “We’re sorry you weren’t saved,” will be sent out globally (and wait in queues while internet gets restored). I honestly think this is far more likely to be triggered by natural disaster than by rapture, and that is just an emotional disaster waiting to happen.

But, can you really imagine the internet surviving any sort of event that would cause this stuff to be triggered? Really? The flood of emails from 9/11 took down more than a few servers. If something takes down the Internet for 6 days (or Rapture occurs) do you think the intended emails will really reach their intended targets?

So, let’s ignore the whole “You have to judge” thing, and ignore the whole, the internet survives thing, and even ignore the fact that this is more likely to get triggered by a solar flare than by rapture, and move on to look at that whole 62 people thing. This company is claiming to be a Christian firm. Why limit the number of people? The way they couch it, “We all have family and friends who have failed to receive the Good News of the Gospel.” This line alone is no big deal, but to me it reads like “we don’t mean for it to happen, but we all end up with sinners in our life.” If you actually read the Bible, its most revered new testament figures are people who spend their time surrounded by non-believers. If someone is a truly evangelical Christian, they are going to always be surrounded by non-believers, and 62 just isn’t going to cut it. Why limit the number of people that can be reached?

To my cynical heart this looks and smells like a scam. “Just $40.” If you honestly believe that the one true path to salvation is through Jesus alone, I see you seeing this as being a bargain. But then again… Isn’t it also an excellent way to dupe overly compassionate people out of their money? Why isn’t this a non-profit free service that accepts donations? Why isn’t there resource sharing such that everyone has a free e-Bible and free access to whatever propaganda best fits the doctrine of the site? People are being asked to go in on their own, and somewhat encouraged to leave private details like family records. How will that help?

This just smells wrong.

If you’ve lived a good Christian life and the folks around you who you care enough to email notice “Wow, that person got physically transcended into heaven,” don’t you think the seeds of “They acted like a good Christian, maybe I should try that too” should grow naturally? No website, no fees, no family records required?

I’m frustrated by this for more reasons, but if I go on, I will be incoherent and I already know this post is going to get flamed.

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22 Comments

  1. Mark June 11, 2008 at 10:13 pm #

    What a strange website. I’d rather be left behind then go with them.

  2. Travis McDermott June 11, 2008 at 10:15 pm #

    It also seems that the whole mess is not particularly secure either.

    http://tinyurl.com/3qspa8

  3. JB June 11, 2008 at 10:50 pm #

    I am a christian, and I am with you here, this smells very fishy and is in very poor taste. But if you look at the other Left Behind stuff from the books to the movie and audio dramas, they are clearly more concerned about making money than helping anyone. I have no respect for the left behind company.

  4. The 327th Male June 12, 2008 at 3:47 am #

    Just tried to hit that website and it timed out. Looks like it’s being hammered. Maybe it will still be down after three days…

  5. Mark D June 12, 2008 at 9:04 am #

    This reminds me of a bumper sticker I saw just two days ago: “In case of Rapture, car is yours.” I have seen them before. They are always on a POS. I am waiting to see one on a Ferrari. That means it is a person who has money and is gullible… or the owner of the Left Behind Company.

  6. hale-bopp June 12, 2008 at 10:53 am #

    This was the subject of one of the games on the radio show, “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” last week.

  7. DancesWithWords June 12, 2008 at 11:26 am #

    Well as a non believer I find the idea offensive & repulsive. It just confirms the arrogance of the religious whether they be Christian, Jew, Muslim, or Hindu etc.

    But as you have I think rightly pointed out this particular website is a scam.


    DWW

    PS. I prefer to put my faith in people and not god/s.

  8. Jay Parkhill June 12, 2008 at 12:39 pm #

    I haven’t visited the site, so I’m going to take a completely uniformed, wild guess that it’s a two-sided scam to:

    1) Hit people up for $40; and

    2) Collect the email addresses and names of a whole bunch of non-believers. What do you suppose they will do with those addresses?

    And while I’m at it, if you had to upload something to help your loved, but unblessed friends through the dark times after the Rapture, what would you choose? I am thinking about Abba and maybe the Grease soundtrack.

    P.S. everywhere I leave comments these days I recommend adding Disqus or Intense Debate. Reply-to-comments by email is game-changing!

  9. Jay Parkhill June 12, 2008 at 1:33 pm #

    And another question- what if the 5 people maintaining the site aren’t actually chosen in the Rapture themselves? Will I be able to get my money back in Heaven?

  10. John M. June 12, 2008 at 3:20 pm #

    I’m a Christian and this definitely looks like a scam.

    Dances, I don’t think you can really use this as ammunition against religion or Christianity in general. If somebody lies about you, it doesn’t make you culpable.

  11. Laurel Kornfeld June 12, 2008 at 6:27 pm #

    Don’t forget, people were gullible enough to actually raise $8 million for Oral Roberts when he told them he had to raise that amount by a certain date or “God would call him home.”

  12. Martin Moran June 13, 2008 at 3:56 pm #

    I’m a Christian and this must be a scam, the fact that they are asking for $40 (God doesn’t need money).

    Why do they want names and email addresses of non-believers? That is creepy.

    Anyway it’s enough for me not go to the website and think of it no more.

  13. Helio George June 14, 2008 at 4:24 pm #

    If it weren’t for the high price of $40, I might have been willing to appreciate what they were attempting to accomplish.

    In the early 1970’s, Hal Lindsey wrote a few books dealing with Revelations. His “Late Great Planet Earth” was a strong attraction to kids like me that were vulnerable to such powerful ideas such as The Rapture, as suggested in Revelations — though this is only an interpretation of a very cryptic book.

    Still, people do sincerely hold this belief, so to use such a computer service as this makes perfect sense. If x million number of people were to suddenly disappear, millions more would want some answers. This rapture event would be no small objective arguement for God’s intervention — an arguement far superior to the irresponsibly complex IDea of the intervention supposedly found in the wiggle (via motorized flagellum) in bacteria. If one truly believes this event might happen, explaining things to friends that might help them obtain “the free gift of life” is certainly admirable, and the timing of the message would be more than appropriate. I still remember the bumper stickers such as: “In case of Rapture, this car will be unmanned”, or something like that.

    Only if the Rapture is deemed silly, is this a silly sticker. If it is not silly, notifying friends and family as to the clear reason for their corporal loft, per their understanding, would be a very important and genuine act for the good.

    However, if the event were to take place, the word of Revelations would spread quickly enough without the emails as to this prophetic event. This service might be more superfluous than they would think.

    Then there is the embarrasement that will probably come from some hacker, power loss, program glitch, or whatever that might trigger the release of these messages, which would then trigger the release of egg upon all those who sent them. That wouldn’t help promote their faith one bit.

    The $40 charge is still the biggest problem I have for a service that wants to serve a religious and charitable cause. They aren’t even throwing in a free star named for the contributor and placed in a valid registry.

  14. hale-bopp June 15, 2008 at 1:44 pm #

    Jay, if you read the web site closely, the emails are sent if three of the five people fail to log in for three consecutive days. To me, that implies they think there is a good chance that two of them will be around after the rapture and keep logging in 🙂

  15. mirc June 17, 2008 at 12:18 pm #

    thank you

  16. Ralf June 18, 2008 at 5:56 pm #

    This is only disturbing if you believe in God.
    Sorry but for an atheist like me this is only amusing. Like “if you believe in this, it’s your own damn fault. Go ahead and buy televangelists’ DVDs too, they need the money.”

    There are a lot of things I find *far* more disturbing.

  17. The Ridger June 21, 2008 at 9:26 am #

    If these people are in any way affiliated with the Left Behind books crowd, they don’t think anybody who’s Left Behind will even give a damn about losing friends or family. They’re all the Goats, after all, so most of them will just keep on as if all that needs to be done is sweep up the piles of wreckage and let the UN take over the world…

    On the other hand, think about the kerfuffle if something happens and the emails get sent out (sunflares or whatever) and now you KNOW what your mother-in-law thinks about you.

    Or even more amusingly, if the Rapture occurs and all five of the employees are still here… Do they shrug and send all the emails anyway?

    Or you get Left Behind and your emails get sent – I don’t know what would be funnier, having NONE of your 62 around to get them, or some of them around to come and laugh at you.

    [Though I expect they’ve got nothing at all.]

  18. JEB June 28, 2008 at 4:40 pm #

    I looked at the site because of this blog entry and as a Christian, I can find the site both appealing and offensive, depending on how I look at it. What’s interesting is that the blogger wrote that we should not judge others and yet look at how many comments on the blog were judgements about this being a scam. A scam it may be but then again, what if they are sincere in their beliefs and just need money to support their goal of reaching those “Left Behind”?

    A point about judging being a sin: actually, Paul wrote that we should not judge those that are not Christians because they live by a different standard. Judging Christians is to be limited to judging their actions, not on whether they are worthy to be saved. When Jesus preached on not judging lest you be judged, he’s saying to make sure you’re not guilty of the same sin lest you be held to the same standard and punishment as the one you’re judging. So judging is not a sin in and of itself so long as it’s done with a right motive.

    I should also point out that not every Christian believes people will be “Left Behnd” in a so-called Pre-Trib Rapture. For sure, this is more a theological issue rather than an astronomy issue, but if you believe in a Post-Trib Rapture, then the site is useless. I could very easily lay out the arguments for a Post-Trib Rapture but this isn’t the place for doing so.

    Lastly, someone stated “It just confirms the arrogance of the religious whether they be Christian, Jew, Muslim, or Hindu etc.”. I looked up “arrogant” on wikipedia and it referred me to “Pride” which says “a lofty view of one’s self or one’s own. Pride often manifests itself as a high opinion of one’s nation (national pride), ethnicity (ethnic pride), or appearance and abilities (vanity). Pride is considered a negative attribute by most major world religions, but some philosophies consider it positive. The opposite of pride is humility.” Considering that most major religions value humility over arrogance and most Christians don’t consider themselves better than anybody else, that’s an arrogant statement to make on your part. What if, just what if, Christianity was the only way as Jesus said and you really were wrong? There are many people who believe global warming is happening right now and many who don’t or don’t care. Am I arrogant for saying “The end is coming if we don’t start changing our ways?”. Not if I’m right. If I’m wrong, I’m only to be pitied.

    So while I wouldn’t spend my $40 on the website because I don’t feel the need to, I would suggest we all refrain from judging the people that created the site. If you hadn’t made a stink about it, I wouldn’t have even known it existed. By talking about it, you probably made them a little bit richer, sincere or not, by your free advertising. Let’s talk about things that are positive and more on topic in relation to astronomy!

  19. Syed Moin Doja August 8, 2008 at 2:15 am #

    brother that line “….and most Christians don’t consider themselves better than anybody else….” ,well lets just say i find it a little, any a tad difficult to digest.
    but leaving it at that ..lets us all argue no further and provide these guys (deserved or not) with even more free advertisement and publicity, lets all just go and read some great astronomy blog, whats say you all?

    11.45 am
    Calcutta, India.

  20. Antonio Hofbauer March 15, 2010 at 2:46 pm #

    Pamela

    I just happened to be reading this page from your blog when I was hit by an ad (via the Ads by Google section on your page) for Scientology.org. I was shocked, mostly because I couldn’t possibly imagine how you could be a supporter of such an exploitative and insidious cult. Is it that you have no control over the ads displayed or am I wrong in thinking that you couldn’t be supportive of Scientology?

    There is something to be said for the importance of exposure to all information available, so an ad for scientology might seem relevant for us, your audience, given the nature of the questions you address in your writings. Yet, there is something that feels fundamentally wrong (exactly) because it is an ad and (especially) to me because it is scientology.

    I realize this is not on topic for the posting but this just happened to be the page where the ad was served.

  21. pamela Gay March 15, 2010 at 4:28 pm #

    I don’t have meaningful control over the ads. I’m sorry you saw a scientology one.

    I don’t actually have the money to easily afford my server costs, so ads are how this blog is supported. I hate having to have them, but they are what’s required until I either have a better job or a fairy god parent paying the bills.

    so sorry. I do not support scientology and fear they may do a lot of harm.

  22. Antonio Hofbauer March 15, 2010 at 5:21 pm #

    I figured that much. I totally understand. I think you can find Fairy God Parents at the local Walmart on the no-frills aisle.

    And PS: Thank you for all your work in Astronomy and the dissemination of information. I have become a huge fan of Astronomy Cast and the intricate process of understanding the cosmos.

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