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  • 05.20.11

Monetizing The Rapture

The end of the world’s tomorrow, say some. Want to make a buck off it?

Monetizing The Rapture
Rapture money

The idea of rapture is more complicated than your garden-variety Doomsday. Since billions of sinners and non-believers will be left behind on the now God-forsaken Earth, we’ll have to deal with–and take economic advantage of–everything that the faithful who were vacuumed up into heaven left behind. Don’t feel bad, God has already judged you and found you lacking.

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What are some these business opportunities? Take pets, for instance. Not all dogs go to heaven, apparently. Scripture remains mute on the question of whether animals have an eternal soul that can be redeemed like human ones, which presents a conundrum: Who will feed Fido when you’re gone? The answer: atheists.

A New Hampshire retiree, Bart Centre, came up with Eternal Earth-Bound Pets. For a nominal fee of $135, Centre promises that his staff will go and take care of your pet in the event of rapture (the fine print: The rapture must occur within 10 years of payment for the agreement to be valid). The former retail executive told ABC news the other day that he only has 258 customers (though note, that’s almost $35,000 in revenue), out of the 40 million who believe in rapture, so he has hardly saturated the market–yet!

“I saw dollar signs, because no one has more pets per capita and more rapture-believing Christians than the good old U.S.A.,” he told the L.A. Times. He added that if customers are suspicious that he might not hold up his end of the bargain in the event of rapture, they ought to endow a third-party atheist with “post-rapture power of attorney” to enforce the agreement.

It’s simply the most colorful of a number of businesses–some cynical, some not–that have mushroomed up around the rapture. The website “You’ve Been Left Behind” offers to send off letters to your loved ones who didn’t believe in Jesus enough to make the cut. The site, in its own words, “gives you one last opportunity to reach your lost family and friends For Christ.”

A similar site, “Post-Rapture Post,” charges up to $800 (or, to be fair, as few as $5) to send pre-delivered letters to loved ones. The $800 treatment involves calligraphy on “medieval parchment style paper,” the founder told ABC.

The market seems rife with opportunity. Post-rapture maid services would offer solace to those fearful of being whisked to heaven in a moment when the house was in a state of disarray (as long as untidiness is not a sin that gets you disqualified from heaven). Post-rapture social media consultants could schedule a lengthy series of I-told-you-so tweets, for more of a long-tail effect. For that matter, there are a number of pre-rapture services that would probably be useful: Contractors might offer to cut holes in the faithful’s roofs, to avoid painful head-bonking during the ascent.

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For further ideas, we reached out to two funnymen and authorities on all things end times. Jason Boyett, author of Pocket Guide to the Apocalypse: The Official Field Manual for the End of the World, came up with a few. He writes in:

My ideas tend to favor business opportunities for those folks who, unfortunately, find themselves having been left behind after the rapture:

1. The Bible says “the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1 Thess 4:16). Were I left behind, I’d get connected to a local landscaping company and then start making calls to local cemeteries, because they’re going to be a mess.

2. Tow-truck companies are also going to be in great demand, thanks to all those suddenly driver-less cars and inevitable highway pile-ups.

3. Some think the rapture is in-body only–no clothes or accessories. There might be some money to be made collecting and melting down gold dental crowns or jewelry. A second-hand clothing business might recover a lot of product in those first few minutes. I’d get a wheelbarrow and head to the most fashionable parts of town when the trumpet sounds.

4. Become a church broker. Lots of empty churches means a lot of prime real estate and square footage that’s suddenly going unused.

Daniel Radosh, Daily Show writer and author of the book Rapture Ready! Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture, counseled us to avoid one rapture-related venture he deems too risky:

One business I wouldn’t waste time setting up is post-non-Rapture
counseling for believers who find themselves and the world still around
the Day After. History shows that people are remarkably resilient in
such circumstances. Rather than break down and question everything they
ever knew, they readily concede that they made a small miscalculation
and begin looking ahead to the next absolutely certain date for the End
Times to begin. In fact, if I owned a billboard company I’d offer
anyone who bought a May 21 sign a discount to lock them into a series of
follow-up ad buys. If I owned a billboard company and had no morals, I
mean.

What’s your post-apocalyptic business plan? Do you have a disruptive model?

[Image: Flickr user IronRodArt]

[Front Image: Flickr user whizchickenonabun]

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Follow Fast Company on Twitter. Email David Zax, the author of this post, or follow him on Twitter.

About the author

David Zax is a contributing writer for Fast Company. His writing has appeared in many publications, including Smithsonian, Slate, Wired, and The Wall Street Journal.

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