THE SECOND coming of Jesus Christ - if and when it happens - raises all types of questions for believers who expect to "meet the Lord in the air" during the Rapture, as the Bible states.
Such as: Who's going to feed the dog?
Bart Centre has you covered. For only $135.
Centre, a retired retail executive for a major national chain, has found a way to profit from what he sees as the misguided beliefs of God-fearing Bible thumpers.
"I'm not looking to make a statement here," said Centre, 62, an atheist author and founder of Eternal Earth-Bound Pets. "I'm looking to make money."
The fledgling company, which has received a "shot in the arm" from the May 21 Judgment Day hysteria, sells 10-year contracts to protect pets from "a slow death by starvation in the event that you get raptured," according to Centre.
"A lot of people send us hate mail, saying we're godless heathens and we may want to eat their pets - or have sex with their pets," Centre said from his home in Alstead, N.H.
Not so, he assures them. In fact, Eternal Earth-Bound Pets employs dozens of well-intentioned rescuers - all have passed criminal-background checks - who have agreed to retrieve the pets within 24 hours of the Rapture and "keep them as their own family members," Centre said.
He's not joking. Pay in advance and you're covered. No refunds.
"We have the infrastructure to make it happen," said Centre, author of The Atheist Camel Chronicles. "We plot out the clients per rescuer so they can make the complete circuit of pickups within a 24-hour period."
The company - launched two years ago in response to the belief that the Mayan calendar marks Judgment Day as Dec. 21, 2012 - has 258 clients in 26 states so far. Christian radio evangelist Harold Camping's prediction that the end will come this weekend has been good for business.
"Can't hurt," Centre said.
Potential clients often ask how they can be sure that Eternal Earth-Bound Pets will follow through should the Rapture occur within the 10-year contract period. Centre offers his word, but he understands the concern.
"We suggest they appoint a Jew or Hindu or Muslim or pagan friend of theirs and give them post-Rapture power of attorney," Centre said.
Another frequent question: What if his pet rescuers get called up to Heaven during the Rapture?
Not possible, Centre says. They're all atheists. And, as an added precaution, they each have committed blasphemy "to one degree or another" in accordance with Mark 3:29, which describes blasphemy as an unforgivable sin.
"They ain't gonna go nowhere," he said.