Photo by Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images.
UPDATE: Just in case anyone missed it, the world hasn’t ended.
The Washington Post reports that America’s favorite Rapture-loving nonagenarian, Harold Camping, is now admitting the obvious: That he may have made a mistake when he predicted that the world would end on May 21 and October 21 this year.
In a five-minute recorded message posted on the Family Radio network, his first since his latest failed doomsday prediction, Camping said that although his failed predictions could be seen as an embarrassment, he’ll keep searching the Bible for the fateful date.
“I am checking my own notes more carefully than ever,” he said. “There is other language in the Bible, and we still have to look at very carefully. ... We should be very patient about this matter. At least in a minimum way, we are learning to walk more and more humble before God. We are ready to cry out and weep before God, ‘Oh Lord, You have the truth, we don’t have it.’”
Camping did not apologize for his wrong predictions. And why would he? His less-than-credible end-of-days scenario has made him a pretty penny. CNN reports Camping’s followers donated more than $80 million from 2005 to 2009. Before the May 21 prediction, some followers gave up their life savings and donated their possessions in preparation for the Rapture.
Camping previously predicted judgment days on May 21, 1988, and September 6, 1994. Not that anyone’s counting.
POST Friday, Oct. 21: The end is near, again, probably. So get ready, maybe.
Harold Camping, the 90-year-old radio host who famously predicted the world would end last May on the 21st, says that he believes the world will now end today, "probably."
After God failed to deliver on the appointed date last spring, Camping, facing mockery from the press and crushing disappointment and anger from his followers, quickly produced a revision to his predication, setting the new, for-real-this-time, date of Oct. 21.
The Associated Press did its best to reach Camping on Friday -- as the world was "undergoing its usual give and take with no signs of such an event" -- but he wasn't talking.
"I'm sorry to disappoint you, but we at Family Radio have been directed to not talk to the media or the press," Camping's daughter Susan Espinoza wrote in response to an email request from the AP.
According to his revised explanation, the "spiritual rapture” did indeed occur on May 21, but the actual end-of-the-world rapture will occur today. Conveniently, the spiritual rapture passed virtually undetected to all but Camping. So far, rapture 2.0 appears to be off to a similar start.
Camping, who suffered a stroke last June, has been absent from his Family Radio broadcasts while hospitalized. He left the hospital in early September and earlier this month posted a podcast, saying: "October 21, that's coming very shortly, that looks like it will be, at this point, it will be the final end of everything."
As the San Francisco Chronicle points out, Camping seemed to be hedging with this revised doomsday prediction: “The Oakland minister's latest prediction of the end of the world … is couched among words like 'probably' and 'maybe,' a far cry from the carved-in-stone certitude he projected onto his infamous May 21 forecast.”
And, as the International Business Times notes, the end of the world will be very quiet. Quoting Camping: "[Non-believers will] quietly die…the true believers will quietly receive the new heaven and the new earth. I really am beginning to think as I restudied these matters that there’s going to be no big display of any kind."
Camping and his current and former followers have more or less refused to talk to the press since the big day flopped, and it's unclear how many people are listening to Camping this time around. But his current and former followers seem to have fared better than the Millerites, a 19th-century sect of Christians who believed the world would end October 22, 1844. After that date, angry members of the public burned their churches, tarred and feathered a Millerite group in Toronto, and attacked congregations with knives, clubs, and guns.