Ask an Atheist with Sam Mulvey

Russian Teens Commit Suicide, Likely in Response to Rapture

One of the concerns which has continually been raised in connection with Harold Camping’s rapture prediction was the fear that it might influence people to harm themselves or others. It worries me that so many people in this country even believe the rapture is actually going to happen at any date, known or unknown, so in my mind it’s really not that much of a stretch to conceptualize someone doing harm because of Camping’s multi-national rapture campaign.

But I was really hoping it wouldn’t happen.

Sadly, it looks like it may have. I’m posting the full article:

(NewsCore) – A 14-year-old girl Russian girl was so scared by the doomsday predictions of Californian evangelist Harold Camping that she hanged herself, investigators said Wednesday.

Camping warned the world would end last Saturday, predicting that 200 million Christians would be elevated to heaven while the rest of civilization would be wiped out by devastating earthquakes.

He faced ridicule when his predicted “Rapture” failed to materialize, but his apocalyptic prophecy managed to spook his American followers, some of whom quit their jobs and depleted their savings in readiness.

It was also reported Wednesday that a teenager living in the Mari El Republic, central Russia, was so scared by Camping’s claims, she decided to hang herself just hours before his Saturday night deadline.

Russia’s state-owned news agency, RIA Novosti, said the girl had written about Judgment Day in her diary. Investigators said Camping’s predictions had also triggered a dramatic change in her behavior.

“We are not righteous people, only they will go to heaven, the others will stay here on Earth to go through terrible sufferings,” the girl, whose name has not been revealed, wrote in what she called a “death diary.”

Her last entry said, “I don’t want to die like the others. That’s why I’ll die now.”

Investigators are looking for possible ties she had with alternative youth groups or religious sects, RIA Novosti said.

Camping, 89, insisted in a radio broadcast Monday he was not wrong but had simply muddled his dates. He also penciled in a new diary slot for the world’s destruction — October 21.

The problem with proving that a person influenced another person to do something is that you must have some solid evidence that the influence of one factor directly caused the result, and that without that single factor the result probably would not have happened.

This is the first news story I’ve read about these occurrences and I try to be careful not to make claims unless I have a pretty good amount of evidence backing me up, but for what I know right now – it sounds likely that Harold Camping’s predictions caused at least one young girl to kill herself.

Maybe she was depressed or mentally ill.  There are other variables which might be at play.

Ultimately, the question becomes – what amount of proof is needed before this man and his entire organization are held responsible for the full extent of what they’ve done?

One thing is certain – I don’t want to hear anymore faith-based excuses and I’m tired of people callously blaming the victims.

Given what I know now, I think Camping should be held accountable.  For all of it.

Thanks to Rich Lyons for the link.

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5 Comments on "Russian Teens Commit Suicide, Likely in Response to Rapture"

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Jack
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How exactly are you proposing we hold him accountable? I really have to disagree with you here. Camping isn’t responsible for a damn thing. He has the right to say whatever he wants – if some people are stupid enough to believe it, then that’s their problem. The girl was either disturbed, or a moron. In either scenario, it’s not Camping’s fault, and he’s never been an advocate of suicide. There are plenty of idiots out there who say idiotic things. It’s a fact of life. We can’t hold these individuals responsible for the actions of every single feeble minded… Read more »
pinko
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I think a case could be made that shouting “Rapture” in a world full of Christians is similar to shouting “fire” in a crowded theater.

As for how he should be held accountable – he should at the very least publicly recognize the consequences of his failed prediction.

george
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Here is a link to an audio from a spiritual group which is getting a lot of attention right now. They explain the difference between December 21, 2012 and Camping’s dart board throw prediction. This recording is apparently causing a lot of controversy!
http://www.merkaba.org/audio/camping.htm

Religion is Man-Made
Guest

It is just sad. I really think that Harold Camping is an awfull person.

James Smith João Pessoa, Brazil
Guest

Religion always demands, and gets, a free ride on many things.

Freedom of speech is one thing. Shouting “Fire” in a crowded theater is something else. Even someone as stupid as Camping should know that people do irresponsible things when confronted with apocalyptic messages.

What makes it even worse, is that this religious reich nut profited financially from his scam. All religion is a scam, though to this isn’t any different.

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