If you ask me, Michael Tollkin, the writer/director of “The Rapture” was trying to make the point that many Christians (such as FoG) have beliefs which are inconsistent. They believe that there is a deadline (namely, death or the Rapture) for meeting certain requirements, and if you don’t meet them, you go to hell. The problem lies in the fact that FCs don’t really look at this belief seriously, and so they never see the horrible consequences which naturally follow from such rules. Tollkin decided to make a movie which assumes that those rules are, in fact, true, and follows the consequences of those rules as they play themselves out.
There are a number of ways Tollkin could have done this, and there are good reasons for the final script he settled on. If he had made the “one true religion” of the movie be, say, Methodism or Catholicism, Christians from other denominations could shrug it off as being a good critique of the beliefs of people who aren’t “real” Christians. Or, they could quibble over irrelevant theological points: if the movie showed a good non-Christian going to hell, some viewers would say to themselves, “Well, I believe that anybody who loves God gets to go to heaven.” Moreover, Christianity can be somewhat ambiguous in real life. For example, if Tollkin had portrayed Mimi Rogers’ character as being an ordinary born-again Christian, there would be no external sign that she was on the right track, and people could argue that she went to hell because she hadn’t really found God after all. (Which is, in fact, what FoG decided.)
What Tollkin did, then, was to create a religion which was clearly fictional, so that it would not come attached to irrelevant real-life doctrines that viewers might quibble over. Unlike real-life Christianity, he depicted a world in which the truth of the one true religion is completely unambiguous. After Mimi Rogers converts, she (like all members of the religion) has dreams of a pearl, which are her sign that she has truly found God. The prophet of the religion prophesies that the Rapture will come soon- and it does, proving that he is a true prophet. Lastly, Tollkin portrays the one true religion as being far more lenient than most forms of Christianity that hold to a belief in hell. You don’t have to be a believer in the religion to go to heaven, you don’t seem to need to be good, and arguably you don’t even need to really love God- it might be that Tollkin intended that anyone who merely says “I love God” will get into heaven. And hell isn’t a place of torment, but is merely the place of separation from God that many of the more “liberal” FCs believe in.
Having created such a world, run by such a God, Tollkin explores how such rules would realistically play themselves out. Mimi Rogers’ character joins the religion and genuinely finds God and genuinely loves him. She gives all she has to God, but is rewarded for her belief with tragedy. In the end, she goes to hell because she does not love God, for reasons that are entirely natural and understandable. Even if she could get into heaven by merely claiming to love God, she cannot bring herself to lie, because doing so would be such a complete betrayal of her integrity. Meanwhile, a traffic cop stands at the threshold of heaven, and is asked if he loves God. He smiles and says, “Yeah, sure!” and is taken up into heaven- but he is able to say such a thing because he was never really tested.
Say what you like about whatever mistakes you think Rogers’s character made, but the fact remains that the worst she ever did was to follow God through thick and thin. Maybe she misunderstood, maybe she should have held on longer- but unless she had a genuinely superhuman enlightenment and emotional stamina, it’s hard to see how she could be expected to go to heaven after all she went through.
Incidentally, FoG, did you never think that maybe the Christian-like cult in the movie was, within the context of the movie, true? It seems so completely obvious to me that it’s hard for me to understand how you didn’t see it. It’s as if you were to claim that Star Wars is about Luke Skywalker, a soldier in a foxhole in WWII, hallucinating that he’s really a space cowboy- and then complain that George Lucas got his history all wrong, because Hitler didn’t wear a metal mask like Vader did. You assume that the cult in the movie was intended as a false religion, and also assume that the God revealed at the end is the one you worship- and then you complain that they got their facts wrong when that God acts like the God of the cult instead of the God of your own religion.