Religion In The News

The Mistaken Rapture Urban Legend

by Elroy Willis - October 2, 2001

This story has made its way around the world the past few weeks, with many people believing it was actually true. Lots of people said they didn't even care if the story was true or not, but that it deserves to be true, just because they found it so funny, even though a woman ended up dying in the story.

A "dark comedy" is what some people have called it, while admitting they actually felt guilty for laughing at the story.

When I first wrote the story, I didn't think it was anything special, but it seems to have struck a chord with many people who ended up passing it around to lots of other people through email. After a few weeks or so, it ended up becoming an urban legend which people didn't know whether to believe or not.

It was actually a bumper sticker which led to me writing the story in the first place. I was stuck in traffic behind a man in a pickup truck one day, and noticed the bumper sticker on his truck which said something like: "In case of Rapture, this vehicle will be unmanned."

I remember thinking to myself "Who could actually be so brainwashed as to believe in some god who will supposedly lift people out of their cars, through their roofs, leaving their cars out of control, liable to smash into other cars and perhaps even kill innocent people, including children, who might be walking alongside the road or driving behind the person with the bumper sticker?"

When I got home, I waded through those thoughts in my mind and came up with the following story.

The original story posted to Usenet on August 2, 2001:

Arkansas Woman Killed in Mistaken Rapture

by Elroy Willis -- August 2, 2001

ARKANSAS CITY (EAP) -- A Little Rock woman was killed yesterday after leaping through her moving car's sunroof during an incident best described as a "mistaken rapture" by dozens of eye-witnesses.

Thirteen other people were injured after a twenty-car pile-up resulted from people trying to avoid hitting the woman, who was apparently convinced that the rapture was occurring when she saw twelve people floating up into the air, and then passed a man on the side of the road who she believed was Jesus.

"She started screaming `He's back! He's back!' and climbed out through the sunroof and jumped off the roof of the car," said Everet Williams, husband of 28-year-old Georgann Williams who was pronounced dead at the scene.

"I was slowing down but she wouldn't wait till I stopped," Williams said. "She thought the rapture was happening and was convinced that Jesus was gonna lift her up into the sky," he went on to say.

"This is the strangest thing I've seen since I've been on the force," said Paul Madison, first officer on the scene.

Madison questioned the man who looked like Jesus and discovered that he was on his way to a toga costume party, when the tarp covering the bed of his pickup truck came loose and released twelve blow-up sex dolls filled with helium, which then floated up into the sky.

Ernie Jenkins, 32, of Fort Smith, who's been told by several of his friends that he looks like Jesus, pulled over and lifted his arms into the air in frustration and said "Come back," just as the Williams' car passed him, and Mrs. Williams was sure that it was Jesus lifting people up into heaven as they drove by him.

"I think my wife loved Jesus more than she loved me," the widower said when asked why his wife would do such a thing.

When asked for comments about the twelve sex dolls, Jenkins replied "This is all just too weird for me. I never expected anything like this to happen."

Links to the story:

Below are some comments from different people around Usenet and the internet who voiced their opinions about the original story.

Jerri (
I don't know if this happened or not. I don't even care whether it happened or not. I'm just awfully glad someone wrote the story, 'cause it certainly gave me a laugh.

Tony von Krag (
ROFLMAO. This was too much, I'm sitting here bloated w/ pounds of wonderful fries (no mayo involved) when this came along and I started laughing! Please warn when sending out something as wacky and weird so I can be properly in awe of the wonders of civilization.

Kip Williams (
At least they didn't put in that he also happened to have holes in his hands and feet, due to "a recent nail-gun accident."

angelagrace (
Hey, somebody mailed it to me and it was just too good not to pass along, hoax or not.

Denise (
Geez, too bad if it wasn't true, it was funny. Whether you are "antireligious" or not. Sorta like, whether you're anti potato or not, huh?

Debbie the Gruesome (
Okay, so it's a verified urban legend, but I saw it today for the first time (someone unaware of its status posted it to an internal newsgroup at work and was quickly set straight) and I had to share:

It's Just Me! (
This is HILARIOUS .. and one I haven't seen yet. How long has this one been around?

John E. Smith (
Ames, IS THIS FOR REAL???????? LMFAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Joseph (
This was hysterical. Darwin winner if ever there was one. IMO, she was a good subject for Paxil or other psychotropics.
What a tall tale.:-)) Someone had a great imagination.

JP George (
Below is an actual story culled from the Dow Jones news service (29 Aug, 2001). I'm interested in feedback on it, specifically how it relates to Sufi studies.

Mr Slot (
Hi All A friend sent this to me in an email. Don't know if it's a true story or not, but it's too good to just pass up so here it is.

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