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Rapture non-event lures atheists to Oakland gathering

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Maybe they were hung over from the “post-rapture party” of the night before, or maybe 9 a.m. was simply too early for most attendees, but the American Atheists’ West Coast regional meeting got right down to business on Sunday morning.

About a hundred people attended the gathering at the Oakland Masonic Center, where they heard lectures from atheists using PowerPoint presentations to explain how to beat Christians.

“We have to excrete Christianity completely,” author David Eller told the audience during his talk.

The seminars were designed as a rebuttal to Oakland radio preacher Harold Camping’s second prediction that people not preselected for salvation would die in a biblical rapture that was supposed to have begun at 6 p.m. the night before. Camping’s first erroneous prediction was in 1994.

Instead of basking in the knowledge that their view of the universe had triumphed on Saturday night, Eller talked about how the atheist community needs to work on its group mentality. Because Christians, whom Eller called “they,” are the experts, and atheists need to better equip themselves to persuade more Americans to consider their viewpoint.

Attendees said Saturday night’s countdown to the rapture at 6 p.m. Saturday was significantly livelier, with reverse, fake baptisms that were performed with blow-dryers instead of holy water.

“We took the party to the bars after about 8 p.m.,” said Amy Roth, who had a booth set up to sell her Surly-
Ramics jewelry. She made pendants — “Jewelry for smart people,” she called it — with catch phrases such as “god free” and “free thinker.”

At one point, Roth’s attempt to describe the night before was too loud for the serious business being conducted in Sunday’s seminars. One man got out of his chair to let her know that her voice was too loud, and asked her to please stop talking in the conference room. She walked outside to complete the conversation.

“Last night was fun,” Roth said. “Now we have to figure out what to do if one of these predictions comes again.”

The lectures were scheduled to end around 1 p.m. The man who greeted people on the way in yelled, “Same time next rapture,” as they walked out.


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