While New Orleans braces against rising waters from the Mississippi River, some see the floods as another sign of the End Times. Some evangelical groups and Harold Camping, founder of Christian radio group Family Radio (which runs a countdown clock on its website), selected May 21, 2011, as the beginning of the end (the "rapture") and Oct. 21 as the last Day of Judgment. The New Orleans Secular Humanist Association (NOSHA) isn't convinced and instead will celebrate with a "Left Behind" party for "individuals doomed for five more months of torment before the end of the world."
NOSHA president Harry Greenberger says "everyone is welcome" to his group's event. "It's an opportunity for some people who don't know we exist to meet us," he says, adding that the group is in its 11th year. The event replaces the group's monthly meeting, typically held at the Audubon Zoo's Dominion Auditorium on the third Saturday of each month.
Greenberger says he doesn't expect the group's critics to protest the event. "We've never had any pickets," he says. "My number has been available, and I've never had any mean calls," with the exception of callers on conservative political commentator Jeff Crouere's radio show, on which Greenberger is often a guest. The group has bumped heads with conservative Christian organizations in the past — more recently during a 2009 Carnival season ad campaign featuring the slogan, "Don't Believe in God? You are not alone." The signs appeared on New Orleans streetcars and on high-rise billboards.
The group supports the separation of church and state and has rallied against the Louisiana Science Education Act, which allows the state's public schools to use "supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials" in the classroom, including textbooks that favor creationism over evolution.
The "Left Behind" event is 7 p.m. Saturday, May 21, at Napoleon's Itch (734 Bourbon St.). The event begins with a balloon release on the river walk at Jackson Square, raffles and contests. Costumes are encouraged — NOSHA recommends dressing as your favorite saint, sinner or zombie. — Alex Woodward