I read an interesting article about the followers of failed doomsday prophet Harold Camping a year after their predicted apocalypse failed to manifest.
It is actually a very thoughtful and respectful article that looks at the real world impact when their whole worldview is destroyed. I found it very interesting and recommend it as an interesting read.
However, there is one paragraph that bugs me. Perhaps in an effort to mitigate against dismissing the followers of Camping as deluded, the author Tom Bartlett at Religion Dispatches says the following:
In the beginning, I was curious how believers would react, as if they were mice in a maze. But as time went on I grew to like and sympathize with many of them. This failed prophecy caused real harm, financially and emotionally. What was a curiosity for the rest of us was, for them, traumatic. And it’s important to remember that mainstream Christians also believe that God’s son will play a return engagement, beam up his bona fide followers, and leave the wretched remainder to suffer unspeakable torment. They’re just not sure when.
That assertion is just factually incorrect, but I see it repeated all the time in religion reporting.
Let us breakdown some numbers.
Of the 2+ billion Christians in the world, the great majority of denominations do not teach about any kind of rapture.
Of course, the Catholic Church, with its 1.2 billion members, does not and never has taught about any version of a rapture in which God will “beam up his bona fide followers, and leave the wretched remainder to suffer unspeakable torment.” So that is over 50% right there gone.
Now we have approximately 230 million Orthodox who have no such teaching either. So now we are up to 1.4+ billion who do not teach or believe this.
Ditto the 85 million Anglicans. So far we are up to almost 70% of the total number of Christians who do not believe this.
So this leaves us the rest of the Protestant denominations. So which one teach the rapture? Lutherans? Nope. Methodists? Nope. And so on.
While there may be individuals within all these denominations who have been taken in by rapture theory, most Christian Churches or ecclesial communities, the large majority have no such teaching.
Belief in the rapture is a subset of a subset of a subset of Christians and good reporting should reflect this fact.