It was all a joke, the man behind Eternal Earth-Bound Pets now says.
A New Hampshire man who claimed last year that for a fee of $135 he would arrange to have your dog walked if the Rapture did indeed begin last May 21 and you got taken up to heaven, is now saying that his business venture was a hoax.
Bart Centre, who last year was interviewed by NPR's Weekend All Things Considered, by The Washington Post and some other organizations, "came clean after the state Insurance Department delivered a subpoena because he appeared to be engaged in 'unauthorized business of insurance' through his Eternal Earth-Bound Pets business," Religion News Service reports.
In a post on a blog that promotes his book The Atheist Camel, Centre now writes that he was essentially just satirizing broadcaster Harold Camping's much-publicized prediction that the Rapture was about to begin:
"Eternal Earth-Bound Pets employs no paid rescuers. It has no clients. It has never issued a service certificate. It has accepted no service contract applications nor received any payments - not a single dollar – in the almost three years of its existence. If I had received a payment my conscience and ethics would have prohibited me from keeping it, as would my Episcopal wife's ire.
"EE-BP is and always has been a poe, a satire, a spoof, a poke at absurd religious belief — a statement and a challenge to believers to belly up to the bar to prove their compassion and genuine commitment to one of their most outlandish interpretations of the bible. And guess what ... they didn't."
He adds that "the NH Insurance Department will be either disappointed or relieved to find out this is all a fantasy and that no clients exist except in my imagination and on the pages of many hundreds of publications." Centre had been claiming, as recently as earlier this month, that he did indeed have some paying clients.
The Eternal Earth-Bound Pets website still exists, however. And the first Q&A on its FAQ page still says this:
"Q: Is this a Joke?
"A: No. This is a serious offer to our Christian friends who believe in the Second Coming and honestly care about the future of their pets after the Rapture occurs."
We mentioned Centre's supposed venture once, by the way, in a post about Judgment Day entrepreneurs and pranksters. It appears we should have put him in with the jokers, not the capitalist. Our apologies.
Update at 2:30 p.m. ET. Comments From Centre And An Insurance Regulator:
Amy Held of Weekend All Things Considered reached Centre earlier today and says he told her he's sorry for misleading NPR and other news outlets. She also spoke with Richard McCaffrey of the New Hampshire Department of Insurance, who said he's due to meet with Centre next week. McCaffrey said he still wants to know if the venture did start as a hoax, or was begun in the hope that some people really might pay for the service.
The show is planning an update on the story during Saturday's broadcast.