For a second time in his lifetime, and with no sign of Judgment Day arriving today (Saturday, May 21, 2011) as forecasted by 89-year-old broadcaster, Harold Camping, his followers are now faced with trying to make sense of his latest failed pronouncement.
The head of an Oakland-based network that broadcasts on over 66 U.S stations and through international affiliates now has some explaining to do to the supporters who helped him post at least 2,000 billboard across America and in many other countries warning of the Day of Judgment.
Gabrielle Saveri, in a story for Reuters, said: “Harold Camping, the former civil engineer who heads the Family Radio Network of Christian stations, had been unwavering in his message that believers would be swept to heaven on May 21.”
She went on to say that in New York, retired transportation agency worker Robert Fitzpatrick was inspired by Camping’s message to spend over $140,000 of his savings on subway posters and outdoor advertisements warning of the May 21 Judgment Day.
“As he stood in Times Square in New York surrounded by onlookers, Fitzpatrick, 60, carried a Bible and handed out leaflets as he waited for Judgment Day to begin,” she continued.
“By his own reading of Bible, which was slightly different than Camping’s, Fitzgerald expected the great worldwide event to begin at 6 p.m. Eastern Time.”
She added that when the hour came and went, he said: “I do not understand why …,” as his speech broke off and he looked at his watch.
“I do not understand why nothing has happened.”
|One of the signs|
Saveri went on to say, “Camping, who previously made a failed prediction Jesus Christ would return to Earth in 1994, had said doomsday would begin at 6 p.m. in the various time zones around the globe.
“That meant it would begin in Asia and Oceania, but with midnight local time having come and gone in those areas, taking them well into May 22, and no indication of an apocalypse, Camping seemed to have gone silent.”
She said that during the day, his Family Radio played recorded church music, devotionals and life advice unrelated to Judgment Day.
The headquarters of his network was shuttered on Friday and Saturday, with a sign in the door that read “This Office is Closed. Sorry we missed you!”
Saveri said, “Camping, whose deep sonorous voice is frequently heard on his radio network expounding the Bible, could not be reached for comment.
“The shades were drawn and no one answered the door at his house in Alameda, California.”
|Two of Camping’s followers|
Christopher Goffard, writing in the Los Angeles Times, cited the story of Keith Bauer, a 38-year-old tractor-trailer driver from Westminster, Md., who took last week off from work, packed his wife, young son and a relative in their SUV and crossed the country.
“If it was his last week on Earth, he wanted to see parts of it he’d always heard about but missed, such as the Grand Canyon. With maxed-out credit cards and a growing mountain of bills, he said, the rapture would have been a relief,” said Goffard.
On Saturday morning, Bauer was parked in front of the Oakland headquarters of Camping’s Family Radio empire, half expecting to see an angry mob of disenchanted believers howling for the preacher’s head. The office was closed, and the street was mostly deserted save for journalists.”
The story said that Bauer was not bitter. “Worst-case scenario for me, I got to see the country,” he said. “If I should be angry at anybody, it should be me.”
Goffard then wrote about Tom Evans, who acted as Camping’s PR aide in recent months, and took his family to Ohio to await the rapture. Early next week, he said, he would be returning to California.
“You can imagine we’re pretty disappointed, but the word of God is still true,” he said. “We obviously went too far, and that’s something we need to learn from.”
Despite the failure of Camping’s prediction, however, he said he might continue working for him.
“As bad as it appears — and there’s no getting around it, it is bad, flat-out — I have not found anything close to the faithfulness of Family Radio,” he said.
Goffard added, “Others had risked a lot more on Camping’s prediction, quitting jobs, abandoning relationships, volunteering months of their time to spread the word.
“Matt Tuter, the longtime producer of Camping’s radio and television call-in show, said Saturday that he expected there to be ‘a lot of angry people’ as reality proved Camping wrong.
“Tuter said Family Radio’s AM station in Sacramento had been ‘severely vandalized’ Friday night or Saturday morning, with air conditioning units yanked out and $25,000 worth of copper stripped from the equipment. He thinks it must have been an angry listener. He was off Saturday but planned to drive past the headquarters ‘and make sure nothing’s burning.’
“By late afternoon, a small crowd had gathered in front of Camping’s Oakland headquarters. There were atheists blowing up balloons in human form, which were released into the sky just after 6 p.m. in a mockery of the rapture. Someone played a CD of ‘The End’ by the Doors, amid much laughter.”
Goffard said that there were also Christians, like James Bynum, a 45-year-old deacon at Calvary Baptist Church in Milpitas, holding signs that declared Harold Camping a false prophet. He said he was there to comfort disillusioned believers.
“Harold Camping will never hand out poisoned Kool-Aid,” Bynum said. “It’s not that kind of a cult. But he has set up a system that will destroy some people’s lives.”
One person who is not surprised with the latest Camping debacle is Dr. James Krames, who told the ASSIST News Service that the self-appointed prophet has been “searching for the end of world for some time.”
Krames, who was Camping’s assistant from 1978-80 said, that it was while he was having lunch one day with Camping that he first announced “his propensity to date the Rapture.”
He said, “I spent several hours explaining why such an excursion was a very bad idea. He remained dissuaded for about ten years. In the meantime, I moved on to build two other networks.
“After the last fiasco when he predicted the end of the world for 1994, he ventured even more deeply into his inquiry into dates. He relies on King James Version (the only authentic translation in his opinion) for chronology, and he has the benefit of the fact that Hebrew letters also serve as numbers.
“His background is engineering, so he tackles chronology problems as if unraveling a Suduko puzzle.”
Dr. Krames added, “His background is Dutch reformed and is traditionally, these people are ‘A-mill ‘(no millennium), just bang, Jesus returns, and court of last judgment begins. Early on, he withdrew from the congregation he had been active in.
“His eschatological views on the start of what he views as the current tribulation began about a decade ago. At that time, he believes, the Holy Spirit exited all churches (including evangelical, Bible believing congregations). Therefore, he began to urge listeners that it was imperative that all true believers exit their church. In fact, he counts staying within a church, even solid, bible believing churches to be proof that you were not truly saved. This is why each Sunday’s broadcast schedule plays hymns, for which listeners can send in for a free hymn sheet (words).”
So Mr. Camping, the ball is in your court. We look forward to your latest explanation. Or is that asking too much of you?