Many Christians believe the Rapture is imminent. But when Jesus takes them up to heaven, who will care for their pets left behind? It seems an accepted interpretation of the Bible is that only humans are eligible for salvation, not animals.
Well, one atheist man is taking advantage of this loophole, offering to care for the pets of those lucky enough to rise to heaven. For a price, of course. Last July, 61 year old Bart Centre started Eternal Earth-Bound Pets. The Web site says:
"Each Earth-Bound Pet representative is a confirmed atheist, and as such will still be here on Earth after you have received your reward. Our network of animal activists are committed to step in when you step up to Jesus."
Here's how it works -- you pay $110, and if the Rapture occurs within 10 years of payment, an Earth-Bound Pet atheist will come to your former home and collect your pet. Each additional pet is $15. You get a 15% discount if the world does not end within your ten-year period and you want to sign up again.
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So far, more than 100 people have signed up for the service. Centre says he splits the proceeds evenly among the company's all-atheist employees. "They have to be ready," he told AOL News. "We commit to reaching a person's pet within 18 to 24 hours after the Rapture."
Centre, a retired retail executive living in New Hampshire, doesn't hide the fact that he doesn't believe in the Rapture, but he is happy to take the money of those who do. "We're not looking to actually do anything in return for making this money," he said.
Since July, the company has received thousands of e-mails. "Most are from atheists congratulating us on our idea," Centre said. "Some are from Christians telling us we're going to bend down on our knees before God. Others are from Catholics who get a good laugh over the whole thing, telling us to make as much money as we can."
The website is also candid about its skepticism. On its frequently asked questions, for instance, visitors can read the following:
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Q: How can I be sure we trust that you'll honor your service agreement, after all you ARE atheists?
A: Being an atheist does not mean we lack morals or ethics. It just means we don't believe in God or gods. All of our representatives are normal folks who love and live for their family, and are gainfully employed and have friends of varying beliefs ...
What about the ethical ramifications of selling services that you personally believe you will never have to deliver?
"Essentially, that's what most insurance companies do," said Jennifer Fisher, adjunct professor of ethics at the University of San Francisco. "Premiums are based on the likelihood that the company will have to pay out money for claims."