Eternal Earth-Bound Pets Never Had Any Clients, Says Owner

Back in 2009, Bart Centre created a website called Eternal Earth-Bound Pets USA. The way the business worked was that if you were a Christian, and you got Raptured, Bart promised to take care of your pets. That is, if you paid him $110…

We (atheists) already knew it was just Fundie Bait. No one was ever going to get Raptured, so Bart would never have to actually do anything. But the bigger story turned out to be how many people were actually getting suckered into this:

Right now Eternal Earth-Bound Pets has contracts with 259 clients — that means roughly $35,000 in contracts — and is set to rescue dogs, cats, a cockatoo and even a horse in Montana in the event of the Rapture.

Centre assures potential clients that his staff will still be on Earth after doomsday by testing employees to confirm that they are Atheists. How does he do that? Well, he just asks them to commit blasphemy.

“They are all very willing to do that. And that confirms that even in the absurdly remote chance that we are wrong and the believers are right, our rescuers are going nowhere.” (NPR)

Bart Centre of New Hampshire, co-owner of the pet business, launched it in June 2009. He has zero belief in Judgment Day, but began to see an increase in sales inquiries in December, which, he believes, is related to Family Radio’s heavy marketing campaign around the May 21 date.

The retired retail executive said he has sold 258 contracts so far. (ABC News)

At the time, I questioned the ethics of the business — was it right to take money from people knowing that you would never have to deliver on your promise? Wasn’t that the sort of thing televangelists and con-artists did?

But Bart was always honest with the press in that regard. He openly said he didn’t think the Rapture was going to happen and he only wanted to make some money.

Turns out he never made any money.

All the cash, all the contracts, all the employees — the numbers the media loved to report on were entirely fictional.

Bart explains in a new post on his website:

Eternal Earth-Bound Pets employs no paid rescuers. It has no clients. It has never issued a service certificate. It has accepted no service contract applications nor received any payments — not a single dollar — in the almost three years of its existence. If I had received a payment my conscience and ethics would have prohibited me from keeping it, as would my Episcopal wife’s ire.

EE-BP is and always has been a poe, a satire, a spoof, a poke at absurd religious belief — a statement and a challenge to believers to belly up to the bar to prove their compassion and genuine commitment to one of their most outlandish interpretations of the bible. And guess what … they didn’t.

While it was fun to think we were hoisting the religiously extreme on their own petard of belief, my friends and followers and ethical Humanists will find it something of a relief to learn that this was a spoof, that no one was hurt, and no one is profiting from the “least among us,” by taking money from those who very likely could least afford it.

So why come clean now? Because the State of New Hampshire’s Insurance Department is looking into his practice…:

State of New Hampshire’s Insurance Department has asked me to come and discuss my “insurance offering” (which, by definition, it is not) and provide them with the names of New Hampshire residents who have signed on and paid for the service. After three years of broad publicity the timing of this action is highly suspect.

This “coming clean” is basically his way of avoiding any potential lawsuits.

Meanwhile, over the course of three years, his website made who-knows-how-much money off of Google Ads and his book sales were pretty impressive on Amazon.

So, what do you make of it? Brilliant publicity stunt or a dick move?

Right now, I’m leaning toward brilliant publicity stunt. Bart exposed the silly beliefs of millions of Americans without actually taking advantage of any of them. He got in the media and spoke honestly about why he was doing this (and dishonestly about how many people were dumb enough to take him up on it).

I guess it should make me feel good that no one bought into the deception, but I’m probably more surprised than anything.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/TheZeroBoss Jay Allen

    It’s pretty goddamn funny. 

  • janiceintoronto

    I only wish I had thought of it first. Brilliant!

  • Zeggman

    I would have been more surprised if he had made any money. True believers trusting atheists to care for their beloved family members rather than expecting to be able to put in a good word when they’re sipping mineral water with Jesus? You know those atheists will be too busy doing the “every knee will bow” dance or batting away poison locusts to take care of little Mittens anyway.

  • Flockofchickens

    No harm, no foul. Good for him for letting the joke go on for so long.

  • http://winlb.wordpress.com/ ToonForever

    Brilliant Publicity Stunt.  He should be able to prove satire and the Insurance Board will piss off back from whence it came.  Beauty :)

  • Larry Gagnon

    As I have suspected for many years I actually think that many people’s religious beliefs are actually quite vaporous, especially when it comes to putting money on the table. They talk a lot and say silly things that very few other people believe, but when push comes to shove they know in their hearts and minds that what they are saying is unlikely to be true.

    • Anonymous

      Well, except for all the people who tithe every week. And the people who send the likes of Peter Popoff and Jim Baker money. And all the dupes of Harold Camping who sent him cash. And the donators to Ray Comfort and the Discovery Institute.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      Penn Gillette pretty much makes that point 
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJGxVeQw3SE

      When we have a court case for a parent killing their kids because “God told them to”, we never consider the option “Gold told them to”.  Judge, jury, plaintiff, defense, nobody.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Reed/692599362 Paul Reed

    Doesn’t it kind of imply that no-one actually believed in that whole rapture nonsense in the first place……..?

    • Edmond

      My thoughts exactly.  Either A) They don’t care what happens to their pets after the Rapture, or B) They know it ain’t coming.

      The only other possibilities I could think of would be C) They believe their pets are coming with them, or D) They believe that associating with atheists, even to protect their pets, could jeopardize their entry into Heaven.

      • BartDromedaryHump

        Paul,there are other possibilities.  If you go to my blog site thru the link Hemant provided, (or here:  http://atheistcamel.blogspot.com/ )you’ll see I referenced the emails I rec’d from repture believers. In addition to what you’ve proffered they also – do not believe that during the Tribulation we are going to be focused on anything other than our own survival, thus would not be  inclined to, or able to, rescue their pets.
        - they simply reject atheists as moral/ethical people who would thus reneg on  the terms of the contract; or- that we are just out to secure a food source (their pets) to sustain us during the Tribulation.Indeed, “all dogs go to heaven” was mentioned so many times in emails that it became a mantra.  I took the time to explain to them that that is the title of a 1989 animated movie…not a verse from scripture; and that when “The Flood” happened Gawd wasn’t awefully merciful considering  the millions of animals he drowned. .

        • Edmond

          So my choice A above looks like the winner, the larger portion of them simply don’t care what happens to their pets–or more accurately, they believe the Rapture will so distract them that they won’t be in any condition to care.  With some portion believing that their animals will come with them.  I wonder if those run the gamut from pet spiders to horses…

          And then there are those who did not believe that atheists would keep up their end of the bargain.  Not quite my choice D, but close.  I wonder, of those, did any seek alternate methods for “after-care” of their pet?  Who COULD they trust, out of the remainders of humanity that weren’t raptured?

          Sheesh.  Why do people like this even GET pets, if they are anticipating own imminent inability to care for them?

  • Mrs. B.

    Oh NOES!!1!  I blogged about this when he first started the “rescue” and thought it was a hoot and a half! I’m actually kinda disappointed to learn that he didn’t have any clients.

    • Nazani14

       I’m disappointed, but not surprised, that the faithful are OK with their pets starving to death in homes and stables.

  • http://twitter.com/Jalyth JT the Girl

    I’m not surprised no one bought his service. People don’t like being made fun of. And if they don’t mind, then they aren’t the type to get suckered in. I thought the whole thing was funny. 

  • Damion Royce

    Fundies could have left that provision in their wills – after all what lawyer would get swept up in the rapture?

  • Beau McElhattan

    I think it’s funny.  I remember sending this around to all my religious friends. They balked at it.  A few even said their pets would go with them come rapture time.  Heh.. whatever floats your boat, man.

  • Miko

    Providing someone a product they want at a price they agree to cannot be considered “taking advantage” of them.  Suppose a teetotaler runs a liquor store and sells booze to people who want it.  Should we conclude that the teetotaler is taking advantage of the clients because she is selling them a product that she personally wouldn’t want?  Now, if the pet-adopter were lying about his intentions, that would be fraud, of course.  But if he intends to actually follow through in the unlikely event of Rapture, how could that possibly be viewed as taking advantage of anyone?

    The point here is only that no one did want to buy that product at the price offered, which makes sense.

  • Daniel Fincke

    Some impressive reporting by NPR and ABC just taking the guy’s word and apparently not doing so much as asking for the information of even one of his alleged clients to investigate their side of the story.

    • Anonymous

      They probably asked and were refused for “privacy reasons”. It’s not like they could get the info (if it had existed) from any other source.

      • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger/featured GodVlogger (on YouTube)

         Edward Current (YouTube) probably could have interviewed for the news teams, as a poe Evangelical who was buying the insurance to take care of his cat!

      • BartDromedaryHump

        Yes, I was asked by some media for names of clients to interview, and I refused.  They ran with the story anyway. 
        Of the hundreds of interviews and media outlets, only “CBS  Sunday Morning” TV, the NY Times, and a documentary film maker in California , and perhaps one other decided not to run with the story without being able to corroborate actual clients enrolled.

  • Benjamin Kay

    The service is a brilliant publicity stunt. Lying about the number of customers was a dick move.

  • Anonymous

    No worse than telling someone they are going to heaven and passing around the collection plate.

    • The Other Weirdo

       I think you have that wrong. Don’t they usually tell people that they’re going to hell and pass around the collection plate them to bribe their way to heaven?

      • Brian Macker

        Depends on the sect.

  • Ronlawhouston

    Fricking brilliant Bart.  I bow to your satire abilities.  My only regret is that the government forced you to come clean.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bob-Down/100001310114443 Bob Down

    How dumb are the people in that Insurance Department? They must be the only people on the planet who didn’t see the joke. I wish Bart hadn’t folded so quickly. I wish he had stayed silent and let the fools follow their intuition. Imagine the fun he could have had, keeping us informed with updates as the Insurance Dept blundered around searching for evidence against him.

    • BartDromedaryHump

      Bob, when served with a subpeona and asked to bring documentation of my clients, fees collected, etc., I figured it best to out my spoof before they did.
      I didn’t want a bunch of humourless beaurocrats getting credit in the local press for outting the spoof.  I wanted to do it on my terms.
      I plan to bring signed copies of my books for them.  I hope they don’t burn them in the parking lot. ;) 

  • Myatheistlife

    It was most decidedly not a dick move. Rapture insurance for your pet is what you can’t get at church… where you get rapture insurance for yourself. Now watch, the left behind people will be selling another book about what happens to your pets. The real joke is anyone actually using the word rapture in a serious tone. The word is not in the Christian bible – it’s completely made up by H.Camping types. Now lets talk about whether that was a DICK  move or not? Wait … what? Any reaction to talk of a rapture that does no harm is not a dick move. The real dick move was inventing the rapture story in the first place.

    • Rwlawoffice

      The word rapture is not in the bible but the concept is clearly there. Look in 1Thess. 4:16

      And to the question- he is a liar.

      • BartDromedaryHump

        Rwl..spoken like a true rapture believing theist.  as I said in my blog post when I exposed my spoof:

        In the scheme of things, this entertaining little endeavor wasn’t even a blip on the radar screen when compared to the great spoofs/ hoaxes perpetrated by Saul of Tarsus (AKA St. Paul), Mohammed, Joseph Smith, L Ron Hubbard, and the many purveyors of the hoax of religious myth. Unfortunately, they aren’t around to expose their own spoofs. We have to do that for them. I’ll keep doing my part, you keep doing yours.

        • Rwlawoffice

          Believe the way you want, your belief is not what makes me call you a liar.  Its the fact that in order to gain publicity or cast religious people as gullible or ignorant  you lied about people accepting your “contract” .  

          • BartDromedaryHump

            Just think of me as an atheistic Saint Paul:  I just ended the spoof, he didn’t. 
            That you bought both our deceptions, but are only seemingly annoyed by mine, does more to “cast religious people as …ignorant” than I ever could.

            • Rwlawoffice

              I don’t think you misunderstood me. I was not annoyed by your con.  I called you a liar because you did. 

              • BartDromedaryHump

                Rw… indeed, be definition, a hoax, a spoof is a lie.  No question. But, the good news is no one was hurt, no one fleeced, no one died. Contrast that with the lies of the founders of the theistic religions, and George Bush,.In fact, by virtue of there having been no ground swell of takers it speaks to a lesser degree of gullibility than I had previously attributed to religionists.  It’s all good.  Relax. ;)

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  I once learned a rule to teach kids  about secrets.  OK secrets are ones with an expiration date.  Like a surprise birthday party.  Bad secrets are forever.  Like “don’t tell anyone about our touching game”.

            • kevinv

              Not even close to St Paul. 
              You wanted people to fall for your hoax. If people were dumb enough to fall for it you would’ve lied anyway and said people didn’t. Obviously Christians are smarter then you thought.

              Atheist are ignorant. (Your little stunt you pulled) 
              I’m a christian and I do listen to others and understand their religion and their side. Atheist people on the other hand think they are right in everything in live, everything they do is in justice, and if anybody disagrees they are wrong about every aspect of life. 
              You try to compare yourself in different ways about Paul and Biblical people and you are 100% different. It’s like an apple to an orange. 
              Atheist will be satan’s butt pirate’s and believer’s will be in heaven living’s our eternal life being happy and joyful. 
              No wonder he has Hump in the name…. Satan’s Hump buddy.

    • kevinv

      Rapture isn’t in the Bible no. Rapture is a word people use to say “End times” “believers leaving earth” 
      “Rapture” is being caught up. Caught up by Jesus and taken to Heaven our eternal home. 
      It’s gonna be a good day :)

  • http://evolvedmonkeys.blogspot.com/ Evolved Monkey

    I have been reading his blog for a while now (Atheist Camel) and find his rants at times amusing, but usually spot on. I have no problem with what he did. He didn’t have any clients and didn’t take in any money (he turned away two people that actually wanted his services), so why are people calling this a dick move? I think the dick move is all the rapture preachers that had no problem taking in millions of dollars from people across the country, selling them false hope of an everlasting life in heaven.

  • BartDromedaryHump

    Hemant, and all…
    Thanks for reporting the story. And thanks all for your support and kind words.

    It was a fun endeavor while it lasted.  Biggest problem now is what religiously inspired buffoonery do I do next?  

    Yours in reason,
    Bart
    aka The Atheist Camel

  • Mlinn21

    I thought the whole Rapture idea was that the world ended and everyone not Raptured died a fiery death. Isn’t that the story?

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      No, there’s a period of tribulations (6 months?) where everything is horrible and everyone is marked etc. and people have a last chance to convert.  The ruptured get a ‘by’ in sports speak.

      • BartDromedaryHump

        Rich, Tribulation = 7 years.

  • Tmcphoto

    I’m going with brilliant publicity stunt. If he made any money from google ads or from his book it was bacause of the press his “service” was getting. It is quite possible that this latest news story will help generate a little bit more for him. This is really no different than a YouTube video going viral

  • http://readythreadsew.wordpress.com/ Joolz

    I presumed that he did make money from his original rapture offer and thought it was a brilliant idea.  Now knowing that the original offer made no money, but the book deal did is even better.  This has to be the best Poe ever.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Johnny-Ward/100002466030200 Johnny Ward

    [Patheos: Following is something I ran into while on the net.]

             Catholics Did NOT Invent the Rapture !

         Many assert
    that the “rapture” promoted by evangelicals was first taught, at least
    seminally, by a Jesuit Catholic priest named Francisco Ribera in his
    16th century commentary on the book of Revelation.
         To see what is claimed, Google “Francisco Ribera taught a rapture 45 days before the end of Antichrist’s future reign.”
        
    After seeing this claim repeated endlessly on the internet without even
    one sentence from Ribera offered as proof, one widely known church
    historian decided to go over every page in Ribera’s 640-page work
    published in Latin in 1593.
         After laboriously searching for the
    Latin equivalent of “45 days” (“quadraginta quinque dies”), “rapture”
    (“raptu,” “raptio,” “rapiemur,” etc.) and other related expressions, the
    same scholar revealed that he found absolutely nothing in Ribera’s
    commentary to support the oft-repeated claim that Ribera taught a prior
    (45-day) rapture! (Since the same scholar plans to publish his complete
    findings, I am not at liberty to disclose his name.)
         Are you
    curious about the real beginnings of this evangelical belief (a.k.a. the
    “pre-tribulation rapture”) merchandised by Darby, Scofield, Lindsey,
    Falwell, LaHaye, Ice, Van Impe, Hagee and many others?
         Google
    “The Unoriginal John Darby,” “Pretrib Rapture Diehards,” “X-Raying
    Margaret,” “Edward Irving is Unnerving,” “Walvoord Melts Ice,” “Thomas
    Ice (Bloopers),” “Wily Jeffrey,” “Deceiving and Being Deceived” by D.M.,
    “The Real Manuel Lacunza,” “Roots of Warlike Christian Zionism,”
    “Pretrib Rapture Politics,” “Pretrib Hypocrisy,” “Famous Rapture
    Watchers,” and “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty” – most of these by the
    author of the 300-page nonfiction book “The Rapture Plot,” the highly
    endorsed and most accurate documentation on the long hidden historical
    facts of the 182-year-old pre-tribulation rapture theory imported from
    Britain during the late 19th century.


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