FFRF’s “fool me once” campaign asks onlookers to judge religion



A national association of atheists and agnostics that is not in raptures over the Rapture is having some fun, but making a serious point, in knocking Harry Camping's prediction that (once again) the world will end this Friday.

In its "fool me once" campaign, the Freedom From Religion Foundation is asking onlookers to use their judgment not just to reject Camping's irresponsible predicts of "Judgment Day," but all unsubstantiated religious claims.

FFRF's message: instead of worrying about the unknown and unprovable, wasting time, money and energy in speculating over the nonexistent: "Make this world better."

A number of Camping's Family Radio followers quit their jobs and even spent their savings to help in Camping's $100 million campaign, which included placing 2,000 billboards around the United States last spring warning of a May 21 "Judgment Day." Although the Family Radio has lost some of its steam since its flopped May prediction, the radio website continues to warn that October 21 is the "new" Rapture date.

FFRF has placed five different bold messages on 40 billboards throughout Oakland, the home base of Camping's Family Radio show, with two for good measure in San Francisco.

One billboard against a background of twilit sky and clouds factually states, "Between 2004-2009, Family Radio raised $80 MILLION. Sometimes it pays to be wrong." The billboard cites its source, CNN's Money.com, May 19, 2011.

Another colorful billboard, headlined "fool me once. . ." features three alarm clocks with hand dials inching toward midnight. Under each alarm clock is a date and a statement: "9/7/1994, Wrong," "5/21/2011, Wrong again," "10/21/2011, Still wrong."

A third billboard, which is black with red and yellow flames licking its message, says "Every day is JUDGMENT DAY. Use yours. Use reason."

A fourth billboard against the backdrop of a peaceful field says: "STILL HERE," and advises: "Let's make this world better."

A fifth billboard carries a Lincoln penny with FFRF's message, "In Reason We Trust," instead of "In God We Trust."

Each billboard is identified with a footer reading: FFRF.ORG, Freedom From Religion Foundation. On May 31, FFRF wrote the California Attorney General asking for a fraud probe into the rapture campaign, to investigate how many innocent people may have suffered financially, emotionally and physically due to Camping's Armageddon prediction. FFRF asked that Camping's 501©(3) nonprofit, Family Stations, Inc., be investigated for "fraud and deceit."

"There are media reports of dozens of Camping's followers who liquidated their own assets to contribute tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars to Campings organization," FFRF's letter said. It noted tragic reports that some of Camping's followers even committed suicide. One of the more horrifying reports indicated a California woman slit her children's throats and then her own in order to "prevent them from suffering through [the Tribulation]."

FFRF Co-Director Dan Barker noted the Old Testament contains many apocalyptic predictions of the world's end. The New Testament predicts an overthrow of the world order, sometimes with cosmic cataclysms, when Jesus returns. Matthew 16:28, for example, warns the world will end during the lifetime of Jesus' followers. Mark 13:25 predicts "the stars of heaven shall fall." Corinthians 15:51-52 warns "the trumpet shall sound, the dead will be raised." In Revelation, Jesus is quoted saying, "Behold, I come quickly." 

"Two thousand years isn't too quick," Barker quipped. "Every generation of Christians has flattered itself that it's living in the end times, from Paul to the Millerites to Jehovah's Witnesses to Family Radio, laughing all the way to the bank. Think of the Christian children in every generation who have been needlessly terrorized with these irresponsible predictions. I was taught the world was ending at any moment, and that I wouldn't even be able to go to college, get married, have children," Barker, 62, author of "Losing Faith in Faith" and "Godless" added.

"Harold Camping may be considered by many Christians to be a fringe element. What they conveniently overlook is that the bible itself is the source of these wacky and harmful beliefs," Barker said.

FFRF, based in Madison, Wis., is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists and agnostics), with over 17,000 members nationwide including over 2500 in California who also work to keep religion out of government.


A map of the billboard locations.

Billboard locations: 

Richmond: Harbour Way & Pennsylvania SE/S
West Oakland: 7Th St Nl W/O Center
West Oakland: Market Wl N/O 44Th St
Richmond: Harbour Way & Maine
Richmond: Barrett E/O 2nd
Richmond: Cutting Blvd &16Th St N/S
Richmond: Pennsylvania Sl 50' W/O & 7Th St
Emeryville: Peralta St & Watts St W/S
North Of Oakland: San Pablo Wl 25 ft S/O 63Rd St
West Oakland: Mlk Jr Way S/O 46Th St W/S
North Of Oakland: Shattuck Wl S/O 60Th St
Oakland: Mlk Jr Way Wl 25' S/O & Sycamore
West Oakland: 4Th St Nl E/O Webster
West Oakland: Grand Ave El 100' N/O & Mandana N.E.
East Oakland: 14Th Ave N/O 27Th St W/S
East Oakland: 11Th Ave S/O 24Th St W/S
East Oakland: Foothill Blvd El 200' N/O & Fruitvale
East Oakland: Foothill Blvd & Congress & N.W.
East Oakland: Foothill Blvd & 57Th Ave & S.W.
East Oakland: 73Rd Ave & Mac Arthur Blvd
East Oakland: Mac Arthur Blvd & Elmview Dr
East Oakland: Mac Arthur El 500' N/O & Laurel
East Oakland: International Blvd El 300' S/O & 11Th Ave
East Oakland: International BlvdOpp N/O 23rd Ave W/S
East Oakland: 98Th Ave Nl 100' E/O & San Leandro Blvd
East Oakland: E 12Th El 125' S/O 12Th & Ave
East Oakland: San Leandro Blvd & 35Th Ave & S.E.
East Oakland: Edes Ave 150 ft N/O Elmhurst E/S
East Oakland: 98Th Ave S/O Railroad E/S
West San Jose: San Carlos Nl 136' W/O & Sunol
South San Jose: Keyes N/O 9Th W/S
East San Jose: Santa Clara Sl 75 ft E/O 22Nd
South San Francisco: 3Rd St N/O La Salle W/S
Mission/ Castro/ Army: Bryant 89 ft S/O 16Th St W/S
Mission/ Castro/ Army: Mission El S/O 14Th St
Mission/ Castro/ Army: So Van Ness Wl 80' N/O & 16Th St
Mission/ Castro/ Army: 22Nd St S/O Harrison W/S
South San Francisco: San Bruno Ave & Olmstead E/S
South San Francisco: San Bruno Ave El 200' S/O & Burrows
South San Francisco: Mission S/O Geneva W/S
Mission/ Castro/ Army: So Van Ness El 100' S/O & 26Th St
San Leandro: E 14Th & 170Th Ave SE/S


Freedom From Religion Foundation

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