"Judgment Day" is just 24 hours away and many are turning to the almighty dollar for salvation.
While some evangelical Christians are preparing to be taken away to heavenly realms, the less devout have been trying to profit off the prophecy.
Family Radio, a non-profit, listener-supported religious organization based in Oakland, Calif., has declared that May 21 will mark the end of the world, when Jesus Christ arrives for his second coming and the "rapture" of his believers.
Gunther von Harringa, spokesman for Family Radio and president of Bible Ministries International, said it is "ludicrous" to think that businesses will be able to function after Judgment Day. However, that's not stopping people from trying to make money for a tomorrow some think will never come.
Five Businesses Hoping to Reap the Rewards of the Rapture:
Eternal Earthbound Pets offers a service to rescue and take care of pets once their owners are no longer earthbound.
Bart Centre of New Hampshire, co-owner of the pet business, launched it in June 2009. He has zero belief in Judgment Day, but began to see an increase in sales inquiries in December, which, he believes, is related to Family Radio's heavy marketing campaign around the May 21 date.
Sales increased during the first quarter of this year by 27 percent compared with the first quarter of last year, which Centre attributes to the May 21 campaign. Centre increased his rates in January. It now costs $135 to rescue one pet and $20 for an additional pet at the same address, which he collects up front. That's up from $110 for the first pet and $10 for an additional pet.
Post-Rapture Post is a message delivery service to those left behind after the apocalypse. Joshua Witter started the website in 2004 after a casual conversation with his friends about what believers might want after they leave their non-believing loved ones behind.
Witter, an atheist, charges $4.99 to $799.99 to deliver a pre-written letter to those loved ones. Ritter said he suspects the postal service and email services will not be available.
Witter, the postmaster general of the Post-Rapture Post, said he has only sold his simplest letter product at $1.99, although he does offer more elaborate options. For $800, a calligrapher (a friend of his) will handwrite your letter on "medieval parchment style paper."
Witter, who has another day job, said there has not been renewed interest as a result of the May 21 campaign.
Kevin Thompson, co-owner of Northwest Shelter Systems, based in Idaho, said concerns about a nuclear disaster -- not Judgment Day -- have driven recent sales of his hidden rooms and bomb shelters.
"We're not a doom-and-gloom company by any means," he said. "People are still purchasing shelters from us for a number of other reasons."
Sales have increased 60 to 70 percent since the start of this year, he said. He attributes the growth mostly to the tsunami and earthquake in Japan in March, and especially the resulting concerns about radiation emitting from the Fukushima plant, north of Tokyo.
4. End of the World Parties
Bars and clubs across the country are hosting parties to commemorate the occasion. Fittingly, the Tavern at the End of the World, in Boston, is hosting an End of the World Party tomorrow evening. Manager Raymond O'Neill says he has been fielding lots of calls for the event and expects it will be good for business.
"I'm going to have to close our tabs at 11:30 p.m. tomorrow night just in case people start disappearing," O'Neill joked. "I guess only the good ones are going. All my friends will still be here."
In Atlanta, the Via Restaurant is hosting The End of the World Party tonight and operating partner Derrick Silvera says he too anticipates an increase in business.
"It's a good excuse to throw a party," Silvera said. "We've been telling people to park wherever you want because your car won't be there when the party is over."
5. "Left Behind" Book Series
Jerry Jenkins, the writer behind the Left Behind series of books about the apocalypse, said he has a growing number of media requests regarding the May 21 campaign, although he is not aware of a respective increase in sales.
Jenkins worked with the pastor, Tim LaHaye, for the series' 16 books, which have sold more than 63 million copies, the first published in 1995. Jenkins said the books have been re-released this year with new covers and updated words related to technology in the series. He said the re-release was planned last year and related to the series' 15th anniversary, not the May 21 campaign.