So today was supposed to be the ‘Rapture,’ according to Harold Camping, was going to roll across the world, starting in New Zealand, at 6 pm. He predicted cataclysmic earthquakes that would ravage the earth. Of course, as you all are reading this clearly the ‘Rapture’ has not occurred. This is not a big surprise to me. There have been all sorts of religious fundamentalists who predict the end of the world. In fact, Camping has done it twice and he has been wrong both times.
What causes people to believe in the end of the world?
There are many things that cause people to believe in and follow these kinds of religions and fundamentalist pastors. In order to believe in the possibility of a ‘Rapture’ one must have a strong belief in God and the bible. Generally these people do not bother to try to read and interpret the bible for themselves but they allow someone else to interpret it for them. This is a characteristic of Catholicism wherein the priest is not only the interpreter of the bible but also the vessel for transubstantiation.
The allure of religious fellowship is very powerful for some people. While many educated people also believe heavily in fundamentalist Christian religions, it is my contention that many people involved in these religions lack critical thinking skills. People involved in these religions are deterred from asking questions or pointing out discrepancies.
There have been some religious sects that emerged in the wake of the Protestant Reformation. While many were just other sanctioned religious organizations, others like the ‘Anabaptists’ also emerged. These groups took Luther’s beliefs further believing that they were able to interpret the bible for themselves and live life the way Christ would. The Anabaptist groups are mostly comprised of the Hutterites, Amish and Mennonites. Each group practices their faith slightly differently and with varying degrees of discipline for members.
Characteristics of Fundamentalist Christianity
Fundamentalism is not just limited to Christianity. There are fundamentalist aspects to Judaism and Islam as well. Generally, it is Christian fundamentalists who predict things like an apocalypse or Rapture. In Christianity, it is protestant faiths that most often have fundamentalist branches.
One of the primary characteristics of fundamentalist Christianity is the idea of being saved by Jesus. Most services would offer an opportunity for a ‘sinner’ to come up and be saved by Jesus. Members would then be encouraged to have a ‘personal relationship with Christ. The services use upbeat music to drive the congregants into a frenzy. Gesticulation and other movement is encouraged and often results in people ‘speaking in tongues.’ The preceding characteristics are mild in comparison to what can happen with these groups. Some groups demand even more from their parishioners. People have been known to give up their worldly property, money, families, jobs, homes and to slavishly follow a charismatic leader.
What are the alternatives?
People have a need for fellowship. We need deep and meaningful contact with other people. While organized religion can provide that fellowship, it is, in my opinion, based on a lie. The idea that there is a supreme being, a god, directing life on Earth is preposterous. There is no evidence that God exists, it is only in peoples’ minds.
Organized religion has been the cause of more wars and deaths than anything else. The root of terrorism, whether it is Islamic or Irish, is religion. We have been involved in Afghanistan, which is a war about religion. Most of what is going in the Middle East is caused by religion.
I imagine a world without organized religion. Without religion we would not have the same degree of fundamentalism as we do today. The world would be a much more rational and safe place.
 Churches like Anglicans, Lutherans, Zwingli, Calvinism
 Anabaptist means specifically re-baptized. Typically children are baptized and then re-baptized as adults if they choose to remain in the faith and community.
 Protestantism began with the posting of the 95 theses on the door of the local church (all churches were Catholic at the time) disputing certain translations of the bible and how they should be interpreted.
 Glossolalia or speaking in tongues is the fluid vocalizing (or, less commonly, the writing) of speech-like syllables, often as part of religious practice. Via Wikipedia.
 The other cause is oil. However, the two causes are inextricably linked.