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The Rapture is an event in Protestant eschatology accompanying the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. First, all dead True Christians™ are to be resurrected. Then all living True Christians™ are transformed into immortal bodies, and both groups rise up into the air to meet Jesus and watch the fireworks which are about to happen on the Earth below. Non-Christians and Christians who aren't True Christians™ (such as Roman Catholics and liberal Methodists like Hillary Clinton) have to suffer the horrible plagues of the seven year Great Tribulation (described in the Book of Revelation) as punishment.
- 16For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
That's the entirety of the Biblical justification.
The notion was invented by John Darby and popularised as dispensationalism. He wanted the Book of Revelation to be true, but without the bit where the righteous suffer as well; so seized upon this verse as his justification.
Most Evangelicals are "Pre-trib". That means they believe the Rapture is the very next event on the prophetic calendar, and they will be raptured out to miss the entire Tribulation. Some Evangelicals are "Pre-wrath" which means they have to suffer the first three and one-half years of the Tribulation, but all those plagues will be man-made (Democratic US President, worldwide economic downturn, gun control, socialist health care, taxes raised to 39% on top earners, etc.) and they are mild compared to the divine wrath of the last three and one-half years. A few Evangelicals are "Post-trib", but they aren't True Christians™ so they won't get beamed out.
 All rapt up
When the rapture comes, can I have your car?
"When the Rapture comes, I'll make 'em wait!" -- Fragment, The Brag of the SubGenius.
"I gotta rapture, that's why I gotta wear this truss. Does that make me trusworthy?"
 Other religions
The Church of the SubGenius states that the Rapture actually occurred back in 1996, but the only person in the USA who made the cut was one old beet farmer in Iowa, and nobody even noticed he was missing for three months.
 Ancient Aryan scrolls
In 1981 a
scroll stone tablet written thing was discovered in Palestine Guatamala Cameroon somewhere impossible to verify that proved that the ancient Aryans (identified as "blondie") had advance knowledge of the Rapture. This document spoke of the wisdom of a five-dimensional alien being named "Fab Five Freddie". It also mentioned an event called "the Flash", and indicated that the flash would be both instantaneous ("flash is fast"), and would possibly usher in a new ice age ("Flash is cool".) It advised that when the Rapture comes we should go out to a parking lot, and drive all night until we see a light. At some point more alien beings will arrive, and we will be spiritually absorbed into their beings - "and now you're in the man from mars". For some reason you'll then start eating automobiles. It sort of stops making any sense after that.
Some fundamentalist Christians believe that the rapture will actually happen, literally, and all good Christians will be taken to Heaven while the heavens rejoice. The rest will be left behind to face the Devil and his tribulations. The bad people will remain on Earth because only Christians are good and good Christians will be guess where, in Heaven. See Revelation for more religious fear tactics.
 Previous Raptures
According to varying Christian sects, the Rapture should have already happened about ten times in the last two hundred years;
- 1843, March 21st - Baptist preacher William Miller predicted Christ would return on this date for a year, before revising his well-researched Rapture theory to 1844, October 22nd. When Jesus didn't appear on that day, several people were bitterly disappointed.
- 1981 - a prediction from pastor Chuck Smith in Future Survival, 1978.
- 1988, September 11th-13th - a prediction from the late Evangelical Edgar C. Whisenant in 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988, 1987.
- 1989 - another prediction from Edgar C. Whisenant in The Final Shout: Rapture Report 1989. Upset that the world didn't end when he first (or second) predicted, Whisenant continued to predict the end of the world in 1992 and 1995, among other years.
- 1992, October 28th - prediction from Korean group Mission for the Coming Days.
- 1993 - multiple predictions put 1993 as the Rapture date as seven years before the millennium to allow for the seven years of Tribulation before the Second Coming in 2000.
- 1994, June 9th - a prediction from Christ Church pastor John Hinkle.
- 1994, September 6th - a prediction from radio evangelist Harold Camping. 1994 was apparently not a good year for Rapture believers.
- 2011, May 21st - a prediction again from radio evangelist Harold Camping after reviewing his botched former prediction.
- 2011, October 21st - Harold Camping again. Nothing happened, as with the previous two times, and he still won't suck it up and admit he was wrong.
At the time of writing, the Rapture has not yet occurred.[citation NOT needed]
 Rapture services
For the convenience of those who have been Raptured, the website You've Been Left Behind offers document storage and email sending services back on Earth after their disappearance to Heaven. "Imagine how taken back [sic] [your friends and relatives] will be by the millions of missing Christians and devastation at the Rapture. They will know it was true and that they have blown it." The friends and relatives who are left to cope with Beelzebub and the Fires of Hades will be even more taken aback to receive emails, good wishes and instructions for the distribution of estates, etc. from those Beyond. All this for the princely sum of $40 a year, which is a paltry price to pay for confirmation of one's Utter Stupidity.
Pets will not be retrieved by that Rapture either, and as such, confirmed atheists will need to handle your pets once the rapture comes. These services can be handled by Eternal Earthbound Pets in the US or Post Rapture Pet Care in the UK. Appplying for such care before the rapture occurs will ensure that you are less bound to earthly events and will make sure that you can be accepted into heaven more quickly. See, those pesky atheists do have a use!
An often overlooked consequence of the Rapture would be the instantaneous orphaning of possibly millions of babies, infants, and children. Despite what Christians believe about an 'age of accountability', the concept is not in the Bible. All babies are atheist, and there is now a service that promises to rescue these babies in the event of Rapture. Services offered include using whatever force necessary to rescue such children, prevent them from receiving any sort of Mark of the Beast, and of course ensuring their spiritual salvation too. This business is also run by pesky atheists.
 In fiction
 In urban legend
"Oh no, it's the Rapture! Quick, Marge, get Bart out of the house before God comes!" -- Homer Simpson
"...what I'm trying to say is who has time to go round picking people out and popping them in the air to sneer at the people dying of radiation sickness on the parched and burning earth below them? If that's your idea of a morally acceptable time, I might add." -- Aziraphale (An Angel, and part-time rare book dealer)
 And finally...
What is the fuckin' holdup? People have been talking about this on and off for nigh on two millennia. Let's go already. Or did it happen already and nobody made the cut?
Those who absolutely cannot wait for the Rapture, and want to escape right now, are cordially invited to Go Galt.
 See also
- Slacktivist's Left Behind Archive
- An "Atheist" during the "Rapture" (WARNING--contains exceptionally mixed messages.)
- FALL 2009 – THE END? This website originally expected the rapture in 2008, then revised their predictions when that didn't happen (to the 21st of September 2009), then revised their prediction again when the new date didn't pan out, then revised it a third time to September 2010, then a fourth to October 2010. They settled on December 2010 for a while, but now that that date has passed they've revised it yet again to the end of January 2011. Hey, say what you will about this guy, he's certainly determined. Oh, wait, now he's revised it yet another time - now it's supposedly going to be the end of Rosh Hashanah, 2011 (which has since come and gone). Holy crap, man, why can't you just pick a date and stick with it? Somewhat humorously, he appears to be either too lazy to update the rest of the site or simply does not realize that he has not updated it, and virtually all of the site's arguments are still constructed around the original 2008 prediction, with several sections of the site still giving the original prediction in its entirety despite the fact that, by the original prediction, over half of the 'Tribulation' would already be over by now.
- ↑ See the wp:Great Disappointment on Wikipedia.
- ↑ Smith, Chuck (1978). Future Survival. The Word for Today. p. 17
- ↑ "The World Did Not End Yesterday". Boston Globe (Associated Press). 29 October 1992.
- ↑ "We Are Almost There" by Harold Camping.
- ↑ Watchtower Online Library: Rapture
- ↑ Web archive page: www.rapture-orphan-rescue.com/
- ↑ Snopes: Skyway to Heaven
- ↑ Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, for those who like humor with their apocalypses.