Dave Silverman Calls Out Harold Camping

In an article for CNN, American Atheists’ Dave Silverman has a fantastic takedown of Harold Camping, the man who began the whole “Rapture Day” hysteria.

I am not sure if Camping is a liar, but I think so. He realized that religion is a great way to make tax-free money off the backs of well-meaning people, through donations to his ministry, all without fearing eternal damnation. You see, I suspect that he, like many others of his ilk, doesn’t believe in God at all.

Consider how Newt Gingrich could campaign against President Bill Clinton’s adultery as the darling of the Religious Right while actually being an adulterer himself. Consider how evangelical superstar Ted Haggard could preach against homosexuality, in God’s name, while hiding a gay lover. And consider Camping, who can get donors to cough up what appears to be a lot of money in God’s name while ruining his followers’ real lives on Earth.

These are not people who fear God or hell. In my opinion, they know very well that gods are myths. They are just bad people. Atheists have bad people, too, the worst of whom feign religion for their own personal gain.

Next week, Camping’s victims will ask our forgiveness for being so foolish, and we will forgive them, because we’ve all done stupid things. They will ask for money and we will help them, because most people are charitable.

Dave is slated to appear on CNN this weekend, and I’ll post video if/when it’s available.

Since I’m already talking about CNN, they’re doing everything they can to capitalize on Rapture-related discussion. And it’s getting out of hand.

Here’s an article about the town of Rapture, Indiana. (Really.)

Strangely enough, only one dude lives there. And he’s an atheist.

An atheist, [David] Tanner is not fretting about Family Radio founder Harold Camping’s prediction that Jesus Christ will return during the world’s destruction and ascend into heaven with true believers.

I’m not concerned if the world doesn’t end and it’s all a hoax,” Tanner said from Nashville Friday. “If it does (end), I’ve had a great time living to 46.”


  • goldfinch

    He could very well be right about Camping, I don’t know enough about him. However, I think that Silverman underestimates the ability of people to fool themselves. And, there is a difference between hypocrisy and moral weakness. Haggard and Gingrich may really believe what they believe but cannot live in accordance with their beliefs. They may rationalize why they don’t and deceive themselves. Which is human.

  • Larry Meredith

    Good to see Dave pointing out that these are suspicions and personal opinions rather than facts. One of the only problems I had with him is when he would claim that he knows people going who go to church know it’s a lie. No real evidence of it other than some anecdotes by post-religious people. Those seem about as reliable as Christians claiming they used to be atheists, and his claim to know that people in church know it’s all a lie was akin to Christian claims that atheists know deep down in their hearts that Jesus is their true savior. None of it is based on any real study and it made our side seem radical.

    Atheists have bad people, too, the worst of whom feign religion for their own personal gain.

    Err… I hope people don’t take this out of context and think he’s talking about people like Hitler and Stalin.

  • Steve

    Nah, you don’t have to go to any extremes. You need to simply look at any number of American politicians. Sure, most of them certainly believe in god, but their constant public displays of piety are just a show in many cases. And if it’s just saying crap like “God bless America”. They say these things because the electorate expects it and because their more devout opponents will criticize them if they don’t. It’s also not unreasonable that there are some closeted agnostics or atheists among them – even if it’s just one or two.

    And Hitler certainly wasn’t an atheist. He genuinly believed in a mix of Catholic and Protestant concepts. While the Nazis needed to play to the Christian beliefs of the population to some extent, it wasn’t all pretending.

  • pjb863

    Steve, those public displays of piety are what my Grandmother used to call “horizontal prayer.”

    It wasn’t so much about actually praying to a diety as it was to show everyone around you how pious (or more accurately self-pious) you are/were. Over the last 30 years or so, there seems to be an overabundance of it. Those 30 years correspond to the rise of the religious right. What used to be a primarily Southern phenomenon seems to have gone nationwide.

  • John

    Fuck all this “forgiveness” discussion! I want to see some good ol Christian VENGANCE! I want to see a head on a stick! Is SEAL Team 6 available for a “sweep and recover” mission? Let’s bring some very needed TERROR upon these MENTAL TERRORISTS! Camping AND all his ilk!

  • meridian

    I disagree with associating Camping as an athiest. This just gives the whole Christian movement an out – “those pesky athiests again”.

    If Camping calls himself a Christian then that’s what he is – despite the No True Scots fallacy.

    Yes, Gingrich/Haggard/Camping are all hypocrites, but then aren’t all Christians hypocrites to a more or less degree, picking and choosing from the Bible what they want to believe? Does that make them all athiests, or just bad Christians?

  • Sarah

    If Camping calls himself a Christian then that’s what he is – despite the No True Scots fallacy.

    I agree. I do think that they believe what they are saying is true, or mostly true. I also think that the mega televangelists are both Christians and con men/women. Or in other words, bad Christians.

  • Richard Wade

    Next week, Camping’s victims will ask our forgiveness for being so foolish, and we will forgive them, because we’ve all done stupid things. They will ask for money and we will help them, because most people are charitable.

    What the heck is he talking about? Christians and rapture-woo addicts being contrite to US?? Does he mean they’ll ask the forgiveness of atheists? Uh, don’t hold your breath for that one.

    As for helping them because they gave all their money to Camping, . . . . I’ll have to take that under advisement. I’ve been giving a lot of money to their victims lately.

  • http://neosnowqueen.wordpress.com/ neosnowqueen

    I think that, since Camping doesn’t actually see a red cent of the donations that come in to his foundation, he’s simply deluded. I’m hoping this one really breaks his delusion that he’s a prophet. One miscalculation was bad enough (then again, there was biblical precedent for that in Nathan). Two is just … paint this kid with a false prophet brush and don’t listen to a thing he says.

    Prophecy is one of those testable things, like intercessory prayer. This is incontestable proof, for Pete’s sake.

    Thank goodness people don’t follow the admonition to kill false prophets anymore, right? It was certainly excellent incentive to know you were right back then.

  • Ben

    Please don’t post SIlverman’s stuff like he’s some kind of champion. His article on CNN.com is so lopsided and biased, it’s as though it was written by a Christian who forgot what side of the fence they were on when they wrote it.

  • http://sesoron.blogspot.com/ Sesoron

    Of course the only guy living in Rapture, Indiana is an atheist. Everybody else got raptured.

    Zing!

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com Sharmin

    It’s obvious if you look for it; no preacher ever says “God disagrees with me.”

    I love that line.
    I disagree with Silverman’s idea about Camping being an atheist, not because I think atheists are perfect or would never do anything like that, but because I don’t presume I can read people’s minds.


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