Judgment Day off by 5 months, rapture still coming says preacher

Judgment Day off by 5 months, rapture still coming says preacher

Credit: AP

Harold Camping


by Associated Press


Posted on May 23, 2011 at 6:36 PM

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) -- California preacher Harold Camping says his prophecy that the world would end was off by five months because Judgment Day actually will come on October 21.

The independent Christian radio host said Monday the apocalypse will come five months after May 21, the original date he predicted.

Camping says he felt so terrible when his doomsday prediction did not come true on Saturday that he left home and took refuge in a motel with his wife.

Camping, an 89-year-old retired civil engineer, appeared publically for the first Monday night.

Rather than give his normal daily broadcast, Camping made a special statement before the press at the Oakland headquarters of the media empire that has broadcast his message.

Camping had forecast that some 200 million people would be saved, and warned that those left behind would die in earthquakes, plagues and other scourges until Earth until the globe was consumed by a fireball on Oct. 21.

His earlier apocalyptic prediction in 1994 also was a bust, but he said it didn't happen because of a mathematical error.

Camping told the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday he was "flabbergasted" his latest doomsday prophecy did not come true.

Gunther Von Harringa, who heads a religious organization that produces content for Camping's media enterprise, said he was "very surprised" the Rapture did not happen as predicted, but said he and other believers were in good spirits.

"We're still searching the Scriptures to understand why it did not happen," said Von Harringa, president of Bible Ministries International, which he operates from his home in Delaware, Ohio. "It's just a matter of OK, Lord, where do we go from here?"

Herbert Walker, 66, of Lake Hamilton, Fla., had been convinced by his daily readings of the Bible and Camping's prediction that May 21 would see God bring chosen souls into heaven before a cataclysmic worldwide tribulation.

He was disappointed when that didn't happen, he said, but planned to keep praying regularly in hopes that one day he'll be counted among the saved. While he said his faith remained unshaken by the faulty prediction, Walker added that for now, he's done with believing predictions.

"I'm still faithful to the Bible, because the Bible is the only word of God," he said. "We can trust what the Bible says, not what men say."

Apocalyptic thinking has always been part of American religious life and popular culture. Teachings about the end of the world vary dramatically -- even within faith traditions -- about how they will occur.

Still, the overwhelming majority of Christians reject the idea that the exact date or time of Jesus' return can be predicted.

Tim LaHaye, co-author of the best-selling "Left Behind" novels about the end times, recently called Camping's prediction "not only bizarre but 100 percent wrong!" He cited the bible verse Matthew 24:36, `but about that day or hour no one knows" except God.

"While it may be in the near future, many signs of our times certainly indicate so, but anyone who thinks they `know' the day and the hour is flat out wrong," LaHaye wrote on his Web site, leftbehind.com.

Signs of disappointment were evident online, where groups that had confidently predicted the Rapture -- and, in some cases, had spent money to help spread the word through advertisements -- took tentative steps to re-establish Internet presences in the face of widespread mockery.

The Linwood, Penn.-based group eBible Fellowship still has a website with images of May 21 billboards all over the world, but its Twitter feed has changed over from the increasingly confident predictions before the date to circumspect Bible verses that seem to speak to the confusion and hurt many members likely feel.

"For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee," the group tweeted on Sunday, quoting the book of Isaiah.

Another site that trumpeted the end, The Latter Rain, replaced its old, Rapture-predicting site with a single page of unsigned responses to questions like "Don't you feel stupid?" and "So, how does it feel to be wrong?"

Family Radio spent millions -- some of it from donations made by followers -- on more than 5,000 billboards and 20 RVs plastered with the doomsday message. In 2009, the nonprofit reported in IRS filings that it received $18.3 million in donations, and had assets of more than $104 million, including $34 million in stocks or other publicly traded securities.

Family Radio's special projects coordinator, Michael Garcia said he believed the delay was God's way of separating true believers from those willing to doubt what he said were clear biblical warnings.

"Maybe this had to happen for there to be a separation between those who have faith and those who don't," he said. "It's highly possible that our Lord is delaying his coming."