Bart Centre is a freewheeling, freethinking, entrepreneurial kind of guy, a guy prone to moan: “Won’t somebody please think of the pets!?”
A lot of buzz has been generated by Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, an online venture he and a business partner started in July. It’s not a joke, though some take it that way, says Centre, 61, a retired business executive and Foundation member who lives near Alstead, N.H., with his “saintly and much-put-upon Episcopalian wife of 39 years and two atheist dogs.”
Here’s the deal: “For $110 we will guarantee that should the Rapture occur within ten (10) years of receipt of payment, one pet per residence will be saved. Each additional pet at your residence will be saved for an additional $15 fee. A small price to pay for your peace of mind and the health and safety of your four-legged and feathered friends.”
Since “going live,” Centre estimates they’ve gotten over 4,000 e-mails and that he’s been interviewed by national and international media about 25 times in the last month alone. He was on the air with Drew Marshall, Canada’s most-listened-to “spiritual” broadcaster.
“About 85% of the e-mails we get are from atheists who think I’m a riot. They think this is a joke—hey, what a great scam, and then of course they say they’d like in on it!” Centre says about 10% of e-mails come from Christians who run the gamut from moderate and curious to “quite irate with us. . . . The last 5% are those Christians who have questions about our service and are serious. We handle those as serious inquiries.
“We do not divulge actual volume. It’s proprietary information. What I will say is we have under 100 paying clients among the 24 states in which we have pet rescue representatives. We only offer our service in those states because we know the atheist rescuers personally or as a result of many years of Internet interactions with them.”
How do you assuage client concerns that their pet reps won’t be swept up in the Rapture? Look no further than Mark 3:29, of course: “But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.” Since blasphemy is the unforgivable sin, all pet reps must be certified blasphemers/ confirmed atheists to steer clear of the Big Updraft.
Centre’s research for a chapter on the End Times for his new book, The Atheist Camel Chronicles: Debate Themes and Arguments for the Non-Believer, led fortuitously to pet rescue. (Chronicles is currently the sixth best-selling atheist-themed book on amazon.com.) Brad, his friend and now business partner in Minnesota, had happened on a rudimentary Web site in the U.K. The rest is (rather recent) history. And now, Centre is apocalyptically bullish, considering the 40 million or so evangelicals peopling their territory.
“Even if only 10% of them have a pet, that’s still 4 million pets for us to take care of!”