What are you doing on ‘Judgement Day’? Apparently nothing, the world is going to end. Those ‘books’ need to be thrown out, they cause too much mental illness.
A New York City man’s decision to spend his life savings on a transit-ad campaign warning riders that the world will end on Saturday has prompted a backlash from atheist groups, who say doomsday cults are nothing more than money-making scams.
Robert Fitzpatrick, a 60-year-old retired Metro Transportation Authority engineer, spent $140,000 — nearly his entire life savings — on 1,000 ads at bus shelters and on subway cars announcing the end of the world on May 21.
“Global Earthquake: The Greatest Ever! Judgment Day May 21, 2011,” the ads proclaim over a picture of Jerusalem at night and a clock on the verge of striking midnight.
The ads also encourage people to tune in to Family Radio, a listener-supported Christian radio network founded by doomsday cultist Harold Camping. The 89-year-old talk-radio personality has inspired thousands of people in North American to quit their jobs, empty their bank accounts, and hit the streets in an effort to “save” others. His Judgment Day billboards have appeared in cities around the world, as well as 17 Canadian cities, including Toronto, Kingston and Windsor.
“These doomsday cult leaders, under the guise of religion, are brainwashing people, convincing them to spend all their money so they can get into heaven,” David Silverman, president of the group American Atheists, told the Star. “It’s pathetic, and it’s very important we publicize this because it’s going to happen again. If we don’t ridicule and shame the people who are promoting this, they’re going to do it again next year.”
Indeed, doomsday cults have been predicting the end of the world for centuries. Camping predicted the world would end on Sept. 6, 1994, but was forced to admit he might have been wrong when the skies failed to open and the earth didn’t swallow up sinners.
But this time it’s for real, insists Fitzpatrick.
The Staten Island resident told the New York Daily News he feels he has an “obligation to warn people about what’s coming.” He has since disconnected his telephone.
“People who have an understanding [of end times] have an obligation to warn everyone,” said Fitzpatrick, who is also the author of The Doomsday Code, a self-published book that purports to explain how the Bible reveals what will happen to people who have not been “saved” by God by May 21.
Fitzpatrick claims his book teaches why and when the Earth was created, what happens to a person who dies, and which groups of people God will punish on Judgment Day.
Incidentally, the lower portion of Fitzpatrick’s subway and bus-stop ads promote his book.
“It’ll start just before midnight, Jerusalem time. It’ll be instantaneous and global,” Fitzpatrick told the Daily News of the earthquake that will destroy the planet. “There are too many scriptures talking about sudden destruction.”
Aaron Donovan, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transit Authority, told the Star that Fitzpatrick’s ad campaign is among the more interesting ones he has seen.
“It’s the first time I can personally recall an ad of that nature, but that’s not to say it’s the first,” he said.
The MTA has a set of basic guidelines that all ads must follow, such as no nudity, four-letter words, or racist claims. But as long as the guidelines are adhered to, anything goes, Donovan said.
Silverman said people such as Camping and Fitzpatrick should be ridiculed to discourage their activities because society as a whole bears the cost when people are ruined thanks to proclamations by doomsday cults.
“What’s going to happen to these people when May 22 rolls around? We’re going to need to help them get back on their feet,” he said. “As a society, we tend to say, ‘Oh, it’s a religion so I’m not going to get involved.’ That is not valid. What is valid is that this is a scam.
“If your mother was involved in a scam, you’d stop her. We have to stop this kind of dishonest activity because more people are going to get hurt.”