Pod people: raptures, McGreevey & Osama

For this week’s Crossroads podcast, we talked a bit about media coverage of the group claiming the rapture is looming, as well as that surprisingly sad story about former governor Jim McGreevey and the abominable coverage of a Mass intention for Osama bin Laden. Host Todd Wilken threw me by asking for my thoughts about Matt Drudge. I defended news aggregators but cautioned that news consumers must be more cautious and skeptical while reading links.

Anyhoo, earthquakes were supposed to start in New Zealand last night, if Harold Camping’s prediction and analysis were right on. It will be interesting to see what coverage of the group will be like once the date passes. I really haven’t been terribly impressed either with the coverage of the group and its beliefs or how they are viewed by Christians and other religious (and irreligious) groups.

This Los Angeles Times piece was awesome for how it interviewed Camping’s longtime producer, a Christian “who believes Jesus will return some day but that it is a sin to presume to pinpoint a date.” I realized upon reading that how little of the media coverage explained Christian beliefs on Jesus’ return, much less the pre-millennial, post-millennial, millennial streams of thought and their relative strength of support.

As it happens, at least two of Camping’s studio staff are Jewish – including his cameraman – and are among the many non-believers in his employ. The most outspoken in-house critic happens to be his longtime producer, Matt Tuter, 53, who believes Jesus will return some day but that it is a sin to presume to pinpoint a date.

“He leaves out numbers he doesn’t like,” Tuter said of Camping’s numerological analysis of the Bible. Tuter said he can no longer keep track of all the times Camping has predicted the end of the world.

Tuter thinks $100 million is a conservative figure for the money Camping has spent publicizing May 21. On Friday, employees at Family Radio headquarters in Oakland were given a paid day off, though some of them chuckled at the irony that the money would not appear in the paychecks until June.

Across the country, nonbelievers are throwing parties.

Wow, $100 million? That’s amazing. The Times piece is interesting, and sad, but does that thing that grew boring weeks ago — pitting Camping’s group against atheists. As if these two groups are the most representative of either rapture adherents or skeptics of Camping.

Of course, it’s a much better piece than this Live Science analysis of how the Rapture would impact carbon emissions.

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  • Jerry

    In terms of the coverage of the doomsday that wasn’t, an NPR reporter was chastised for covering the prophecy at all. She replied that given the billboards etc, it would have been a mistake to have ignored the prediction. I suspect that complaint is typical where a large group has a fringe focused on instead of the vast majority. In this case it was a tiny minority rather than the vast majority of Christians. In other cases, Islam is the focal point of this highlighting of the fringe.

  • Mike O.

    Regarding the point about how christians aren’t necessarily fighting Camping not because they find him worthy but to protect what people think of christians: Obviously YouTube isn’t representative of mainstream media, but I have seen several videos from christians where they specifically worry that what Camping is doing will affect our christians are perceived.

  • Dave

    The Times piece is interesting, and sad, but does that thing that grew boring weeks ago — pitting Camping’s group against atheists. As if these two groups are the most representative of either rapture adherents or skeptics of Camping.

    Atheists and Camping supporters are the two cohorts most likely not to be guarded in their replies.