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20 May 2011

Okay! It's Saturday here now! End of World commences at 6 pm!

Click comic strip to enlarge.

The Los Angeles Times
Friday 20 May 2011 / 22:38 PDT

Harold Camping is 
at the heart of a 

Doomsday predictor Harold Camping is less than rapturous over the focus on him as a result of his prediction that the world will end Saturday.

by Christopher Goffard, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Oakland, California -- Harold Camping's promised final show Thursday night was much like his others. For an hour and a half, before a backdrop of wood paneling and fake plants in an Oakland studio, the self-styled scriptural scholar fielded calls from the devout, the derisive and the curious. He is 89 and bone-thin, making the leather-bound Bible on his lap seem enormous, and his voice was slow and unflappable.

Near the show's end, Camping cut short a caller to announce that this would be his last appearance on the "Open Forum" TV and radio show he's hosted for decades. After all, he explained with a warm smile, the world would be ending Saturday night.

Then he shook hands with a couple of crewmen. "I probably won't see you again," he announced. "I won't be here again."

The former engineer has long predicted the apocalypse, most famously in 1994, but his new date — May 21, 2011 — has received unprecedented publicity. That is thanks to a worldwide $100-million campaign of caravans and billboards, financed by the sale and swap of TV and radio stations.

It is impossible to say how many people take Camping seriously, though his message reaches millions of listeners and viewers on 66 stations across the country, and on many more worldwide. His prophecies have been mocked on late-night television and debated with derision on CNN. This weekend, atheist groups and other skeptics are planning doomsday parties across the country.

As for believers, many will be gathered quietly with their families, waiting for Jesus' return. Among them is Tom Evans, 55, who has served as Camping's public relations aide in the lead-up to this weekend. He has been counting down in his 2011 "At-A-Glance" calendar: Day 100, Day 99, Day 98….

In the book, Evans has noted his appointments over his expected last weeks on Earth, and a reminder of his daughter's 3rd birthday. On May 21, he has written the words, "Have mercy Lord!" The rest of the book is blank.

The apocalypse will strike, Camping teaches, on May 21, wherever it happens to be 6 p.m. That means it will be Friday night in America when what Camping calls "super terrible" earthquakes will hit the New Zealand region.

The earthquakes will then roll on, time zone by time zone. The saved, perhaps 2% to 3% of the world population, will be whisked to God, while the rest will be obliterated in what he calls "a super horror story."

Camping reads neither Hebrew nor Greek, the two main languages of the Bible, but insists his arithmetic is ironclad. He calculates that God gave humanity 7,000 years to prepare for its destiny, just as Noah had seven days to prepare for the flood, and that May 21 is the terminus of human history if one counts time by the Jewish calendar. There are other signs of the end, he teaches. Gay rights. The rebirth of Israel, and the Jewish state's rejection of Jesus.

As it happens, at least two of Camping's studio staff are Jewish – including his cameraman – and are among the many non-believers in his employ. The most outspoken in-house critic happens to be his longtime producer, Matt Tuter, 53, who believes Jesus will return some day but that it is a sin to presume to pinpoint a date.

"He leaves out numbers he doesn't like," Tuter said of Camping's numerological analysis of the Bible. Tuter said he can no longer keep track of all the times Camping has predicted the end of the world.

Tuter thinks $100 million is a conservative figure for the money Camping has spent publicizing May 21. On Friday, employees at Family Radio headquarters in Oakland were given a paid day off, though some of them chuckled at the irony that the money would not appear in the paychecks until June.

Across the country, nonbelievers are throwing parties.

Among many other gatherings, the group American Atheists is hosting rapture parties in Wichita, Kan., and Houston and at a tiki bar in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. But its biggest event will be not far from Camping's church — a two-day conference at the Oakland Masonic Center.

"We're going to poke fun at these people, but in the end we need to keep in mind that there are people being hurt here," said David Silverman, president of the New Jersey-based group. "We're hoping people look at this and learn to use their brains … so we don't have an occurrence of this in 2012" — when some believe the Mayas predicted the Earth's demise.

On Facebook someone has created a page publicizing a "Pre-Rapture Orgy." The location: "Streets of America, Baby." As of mid-ay Friday, more than 6,300 people had messaged that they were "attending."

Camping has announced that he will spend Saturday with his family in Oakland.

But he has acknowledged that his preoccupation with the apocalypse has alienated him from many of the people he loves. "It's so bad, most of my family I can't even talk about it with," Camping said.

Of his six living children, only one believes his message. "The grandkids aren't around that much," Tuter said. "I think Harold has a very sad life. I've been around him every day for 23 years. I do not envy his life."

Tuter is bracing himself for the reaction among Family Radio listeners when next week materializes. "I think it's going to absolutely devastate a lot of these people," Tuter said. "You have people who have given up their jobs, sold their homes, maxed out their credit cards."

For months, dozens of volunteers have been crossing the country in caravan fleets, enduring middle fingers and other forms of ridicule as they distribute brochures. Tuter said he doesn't know how many actually believe the message they're preaching. "They've had a divorce or some other major trauma in their life, and they're grabbing onto this as something to go and do," he said.

Camping rarely leaves Oakland, and his life is a circuit between the station and his home a few miles away. Though his organization has large financial holdings, he drives a 1993 Camry and lives in a modest house. In an otherwise immaculate living room, the white drapes are unkempt, frayed and torn at the edges. Were the end of the world not approaching, Camping said, his wife of 68 years, Shirley, would have done something about them. "She would never permit the drapes to look like that," he said.

On Thursday night, just before Camping's promised final appearance on "Open Forum," he entered the studio agitated. He kept getting interview requests, and some reporters were turning to atheists to rebut his views. He was tired of it.

"Since they got rid of Bin Laden, they don't have anybody to focus on, so they focus on me," Camping said. "I really am besieged. I'm public enemy No. 1 right now in the whole world."

But he seemed to catch his stride as the show progressed. Some callers yelled at him. He seemed to grow calm amid their attacks. After his farewell to his listeners and viewers, after his quick goodbyes to his staff, he made his way to his car with his Bible under his arm.

It was so late, and so many people wanted his time. "I want to sneak out," Camping said. "They'll say, 'Where is he? He disappeared in thin air.'"
- 30 -

Times staff writer Mike Anton contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times


BoscoBob at 10:30 PM May 20, 2011

I just checked the USGS latest earthquakes. Not only is New Zealand not having massive earthquakes, but the world is at the lowest level of earthquakes in the last week.

How sad that people are so desperate to believe in anything. I was thinking that the people who believed and are still here on May 22nd...are they going to believe that they weren't righteous enough and they are going to Hell? And, will that include Harold Camping...?

ticklemeoj at 10:25 PM May 20, 2011

Run to the church and confess your sins to the priest (just don't bring the kids). The end of the world is upon us. Save yourself!

ntnglmnt at 10:22 PM May 20, 2011

It is now 6:05 pm on Chatham Island off the coast of New Zealand.  Can we expect an announcement from Camping?  Or just a reset of the dates for a new batch of the foolish and gullible.

syehuss at 10:17 PM May 20, 2011


eeejay at 10:16 PM May 20, 2011


syehuss at 10:15 PM May 20, 2011


syehuss at 10:15 PM May 20, 2011


AndrewMikeKeith at 10:13 PM May 20, 2011

There should be specialized shrinks who deal with 89 year old wing nuts and their crazy ideas.
wdw123 at 10:06 PM May 20, 2011

Here's another fact-check:
Quoting from the above article, "He calculates that God gave humanity 7,000 years to prepare for its destiny, just as Noah had seven days to prepare for the flood,..."

"Seven days to prepare for the flood" is nonsensical.  The ark/ship was at least 450 feet long, based on dimensions given in Genesis 6:15 (a "cubit" is the distance between an adult's elbow and the tip of the longest finger).  How could Noah have built such a large ship in seven days???  Undoubtedly, it took Noah years (probably decades) to build the ark - i.e., to "prepare for the flood."

The "seven days" reference perhaps comes from Genesis 7:4 where God said to Noah, "For after seven more days I will cause it to rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and I will destroy from the face of the earth all living things that I have made."  But here God is speaking AFTER Noah had finished building the ark (in Genesis 6); God was telling Noah it was time to take his family and the animals into the ark because **the flooding would begin in seven days**.  But Noah had been **preparing** for the flood (building the ark) for years.

It's a complete misstatement to say "Noah had seven days to prepare for the flood."

daniel molitor at 10:17 PM May 20, 2011

And Paul Bunyon dug the Grand Canyon in a fortnight.

Oh, wait. No, he didn't. He wasn't real.

wdw123 at 10:06 PM May 20, 2011

Camping's claims are completely baseless.  The Bible expressly says that we do not know the timing of Jesus' Second Coming (i.e., the day of judgment, the end of the world).  For example, I Thessalonians 5 says the day of the Lord comes "as a thief in the night"; in other words, a thief doesn't tell you what time he's going to break in - there's no advance warning, so to speak.

wgalison at 10:03 PM May 20, 2011

A little song about the end of the world:

evilrob at 10:03 PM May 20, 2011

Even better, is that when Christ was asked when the end of times would come, he pretty much said that he does not know his father's mind, and neither shall we. So, for Camping to decide that he can know the mind of the Lord Almighty, pretty much secures him a non-participation status in the Rapture. Way to go Harry! Not only do you claim to know something God wouldn't tell Jesus to spread to the people, but you *ALSO* ignore the requirements that must come to pass before the rapture occurs. Good job.

ticklemeoj at 9:52 PM May 20, 2011

Run for your lives. The sky is failing! The sky is falling!


pattheatheist said...

Moral question: Once the poor old man notices that he will not be raptured and Life Will Go On As Usual, is it appropriate to have pity on this deluded, but fundamentalist loony ? Or can I sit there with a certain amount of Schadenfreude and say HaHa ! Told ya so !
I wonder what he has to say after six o’clock local....

Vleeptron Dude said...

It's 16:00 USA East Coast time, so World Ends in 2 hours. Camping lives in Oakland California, so World Ends for him in 5 hours.

Whether you have pity or laugh -- your choice. Remember, he's pretty rich and spent $millions to warn the world about his prophesy.

So maybe save your pity for poorer people. This story says many believers quit their jobs and maxed out their credit cards. Pity them; they will be in Deep Shit on Monday.

Vleeptron Dude said...

I can't let this End of the World pass without mentioning one of the most famous of all Ends of the World, "The Great Disappointment" of 22 October 1844:

So you can have your cake and eat it, too. William Miller predicted the date of the End of the World, thousands gathered for it, they didn't bring warm clothes or food (why bring warm clothes or food?), kids suffered, some died while they waited.

And the World didn't End.

Today, one religious denomination of Miller's followers is the Seventh Day Adventists, and there are between 17,000,000 and 20,000,000 of them around the world.

So just because the World doesn't end when the prophet predicts it will doesn't mean his/her followers will all vanish on Monday.