Wed 19 Oct, 2011 09:32 am
A softer, gentler Rapture
By Matthias Gafni
Contra Costa Times
If there's a Rapture and no billboard announces it, has the world really ended?
Yes, or probably, according to the Oakland-based Family Radio ministry and its leader Harold Camping, who are sticking to their latest prediction that the world will end -- for real this time, well maybe -- Friday.
Camping originally foresaw a cataclysmic rolling earthquake spawning Doomsday on May 21, and his nonprofit spent millions of dollars proselytizing with the Armageddon on billboards, a fleet of RVs, radio stations and throughout the worldwide media.
Camping became one of the most popular web searches in the days before the end, and the butt of jokes, particularly after the world survived the day.
Five months later, Camping, now 90, and his believers have not lost faith, but they have kept it to themselves.
The billboards have disappeared, the evangelical caravan parked, followers have folded up their End of Days sandwich boards, and Camping, recovering from a stroke at his Alameda home, and his ministry have kept quiet.
"We have no comments for the media," a friendly Family Radio operator said Friday. "We're not doing that any more."
"Family Stations, Inc. has no comment concerning October 21," spokesman Thomas Evans wrote in an email. "Our media response was made back in May."
Camping's home phone number has been disconnected.
A woman answering the door at Camping's house Monday said he was not seeing anyone and politely closed the door.
The End of the World notwithstanding, 2010 tax returns show the Oakland-based nonprofit now has assets of more than $104.8 million, up more than $30 million from the year before.
Donations soared in the months before the expected end in May, and the nonprofit dumped millions of dollars into more than 5,000 billboards worldwide, but those figures will not be public until next year.
The nonprofit owns several dozen radio stations across the globe, but Camping stopped his weekday broadcast of Open Forum religious programming after his June 9 stroke. Camping recorded a message to his followers in recent weeks.
"I'm still a long ways away from being healed, but there is progress being made," said Camping, his normal gravelly voice now slurred.
In the six-minute message, Camping addressed the mistakes of May 21 and the expectations for Friday, which will not come with the global earthquake he previously predicted.
"There's a lot of things that we didn't have quite right and that's God's good provision," he said. "I really am beginning to think as I restudy these matters that there's going to be no big display of any kind. The end is going to come very, very quietly, probably within the next month. It will happen, that is, by Oct. 21."
The once-resolute Camping's use of words such as "probably" has led to seeming crisis of faith among his adherents in a Yahoo chat room dedicated to all things Family Radio and Rapture.
"This is so confusing. One person says that October 21st is guaranteed, another person (Mr. Camping) says that it's a 'possibility,'" one chat room member rants. "Which is it? What do we really believe? What do we stand for? ... Either we believe what we preach or we don't. ... I'm telling you, if nothing happens on October 21st, I'm ending it all. I'm done. I'm through. And Family Radio is to blame."
Another responded: "What do YOU believe in? Why is this even worth discussing? If its God's will, then it will happen. If its not, we continue on living. All the proof points to this date, but maybe God didn't want to reveal everything?"
And a third went after both of them: "When you wake up on October 22nd wondering what the hell didn't happen, I hope you guys can realize that and let your misplaced faith be corrected by true faith in Christ and what the Bible was actually meant for. Here's a hint: it's no cosmic countdown calendar of doom. Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. You are living in a land of make-believe."
Camping, who also survived his 1994 Doomsday prediction, explains the May 21 false end in a Family Radio website link: "What Happened on May 21?"
Fourteen paragraphs illustrate how May 21 was the end of "God's salvation program" and in the subsequent five months the world has been under God's final judgment.
The passages also explain how the group mistook the word "earthquake" for a geologic event when it actually meant mankind would shake with fear.
Staff writers Peter Hegarty and Kristin Bender contributed to this report.
Hey, thats tomorrow isnt it? Damn, how universes fly apart
Oh, man. I was planning a nice quiet weekend.
Thank you, BBB. Just what this site has been needing -- a good and hilarious comedy thread. Cheers!
Well, it's the 21st here in Oz, and I'm still here.
Will there be multiple sessions, ie, a continuing process spanning all the time zones, or is it only happening in 'God's own country'?
We had an earthquake here on the island of Hawaii Wednesday, the 19th. No major damage, no tsunami generated, nothing like that. But was that, maybe, an omen?
Does this mean i don't have to worry about putting out the garbage today?
What time is this all supposed to happen? I'm taking a vacation day today and was planning on getting a good, hot bath in.
Is this like the REAL ending or is it just another rapturing event in which the total rapturees (According to Biblical numbers do not exceed 140000) wouldnt even be missed from the general population .Itd be something like 0.00001 of the population of the world. Hell, my neighbor is often gone for weeks and we dont know about it until we get calls from him asking whether anyone cut his lawn?
I think the good revrend should just hop into his Airstream and disappear into the Black Hills for a while and then resurface as a "new Dsiciple" down the road a bit.
Did he make any money out of all this?
Are his disciples gonna sue his ass for extroting their savings?
Does Dominoes still offer Hungarian Wax peppers as a topping?
What happens if you're rapturing up there, and float into the path of a 737? Gettin' sucked into one of those engines ain't gonna be pretty . . .
Is the rapture corporeal or merely spiritual? I thought that youd (not you, youre fucked) but YOU that are raptured, merely doff your skin like an old jump suit and get lifted up?
So long as they leave their keys in the ignition, i don't care how they leave . . .
Raturees al drove Prius's
I was soooo pissed the day after to find out that this was just a hoax. I got ordained, absolved all of my heathen friends sins and now have 47 gallons of holy water stocked up for nothing!
I ended up just blessing it into vodka...tastes like crap though.
and now have 47 gallons of holy water stocked up for nothing!
flavour it, freeze it and make Pope-sicles
Hey, are we dead yet? Huh, huh? We been raptured or what?