At 6:00 pm on May 21, I was eating and watching Law & Order: SVU. This was the time that Harold Camping, President of the Family Radio Christian network, said the rapture would occur. All those who God would save would be taken to heaven, and the rest of us would suffer earthquakes of the like never seen since people walked the Earth. Then finally, God would destroy the Earth entirely on October 21, 2011.
I didn’t believe is proclamation for a moment, despite his insistence that the bible guarantees it. It seems that he made no “plan B” plans in the event the world survived until May 22 because the Family Radio web site still insists the world will end two days ago, now:
The counter really should read –2 days.
Then again, among his claims were that 3% of the world’s population would be called to heaven. Maybe they were and I just don’t know anyone who was. According to Reuters, Camping wasn’t at his home after the zero hour. Perhaps he was called to heaven. Well, I don’t believe that either, but I have little time for his kind.
The problem I have is understanding whether he really believed what he said. On one hand, Family Radio was actively soliciting donations. Why they’d need money days before the end of the world is anyone’s guess. On the other hand, The St. Petersburg Times reported that Camping called his daughter, saying, “I’m a little bewildered that it didn’t happen, but it’s still May 21.” Of course, we only have his daughter’s word for what he said.
Camping predicted the world would come to an end in 1994 and when questions about this last month, he told the Associated Press, “I’m not embarrassed about it. It was just the fact that it was premature.” But this time, he said, “there is … no possibility that it will not happen.”
This may be the reason why the web site hasn’t been updated and the Family Radio broadcasts continue without mention of the end of the world having been two days ago. Maybe he was so certain that he simply doesn’t know what to say.
It’s easy for me because I found it nothing more than amusing. I’m sure most people did. Some however, really believed it. Some sold everything they owned. If he was earnest in his beliefs, he caused a lot of people much difficulty. If he’s a charlatan, he doesn’t care.
I find it far easier to believe he’s a con-man.
Update: In the time it took me to write this entry, Family Radio updated their web site. Gone is any mention of May 21. It also seems they restored the site from a 1995 backup. It’s god-awful.
Also awful is that they seem to have nothing to say about their guarantee of the apocalypse that didn’t come. I don’t have positive thoughts of those who believed in his before, but it wouldn’t be polite for me to write what I think of anyone who would give Family Radio any money now.