For thousands of years, select groups of Christians have thought their generation was Earth’s last. Even the Apostle Paul thought Jesus would return in his lifetime. But Paul didn’t have the audacity to pinpoint an exact date for what we call the Rapture. Harold Camping, on the other hand, did.
Apocalypse Later: Harold Camping vs. The End of the World a new documentary that premiered June 8 — exposes wrongful and conflicting beliefs about Jesus’ return by sharing Camping’s concrete opinions of those who didn’t follow his beliefs of the apocalypse. Declaring their spot in hell, Camping was certain that those who didn’t follow his apocalyptic views would spend eternity in damnation.
Apocalypse Later tells the story of Camping, a man who had to let go of his pride and face the reality of joining the dozens of others who have wrongly predicted the end of time.
In the documentary, historian and New Testament scholar Loren Stuckenbruck refers to the apocalypse as a “literary genre,” a “mode of thought,” and “a social movement.”
The film is emotional and shocking, contrasting the scary, more literal interpretations of fundamentalist Christians with the more nuanced hermeneutical approaches of academics like Struckenbruck. The juxtaposition reveals that the tensions and battles that Christians face might not be against those who will be “left behind,” but rather between Christians themselves.
Two years ago, radio evangelist Harold Camping was predicting the end of the world. Now, longtime aides say his false predictions are likely to result in the end of his California-based Family Radio ministry.
The Contra Costa Times reported that the ministry has sold its prominent stations and laid off veteran staffers, with net assets dropping from $135 million in 2007 to $29.2 million in 2011, according to tax records.
The newspaper said Family Radio has sold its three largest radio stations, and saw its cash on hand drop from $1.5 million to $282,880 in 2011. Since the incorrect prediction, donations have dropped 70 percent, ministry insiders told the newspaper. Records indicate the network took out a loan to keep going.
The owner of a business who claimed he would provide atheist rescuers for Christians' pets left behind in the Rapture now says his service was an elaborate hoax and never had any clients.
Bart Centre, who lives in New Hampshire, came clean after the state Insurance Department delivered a subpoena because he appeared to be engaged in "unauthorized business of insurance" through his Eternal Earth-Bound Pets business.
"Eternal Earth-Bound Pets employs no paid rescuers," Bart Centre wrote in a blog post on March 16. "It has no clients. It has never issued a service certificate. It has accepted no service contract applications nor received any payments -- not a single dollar -- in the almost three years of its existence."
When doomsday prophet Harold Camping conceded last week that his failed May 21 end-of-the-world prediction was "incorrect and sinful," the average American probably shrugged, perhaps even snickered.
But for Bart Centre, Camping's mea culpa could have real impact on his bottom line.
The co-owner of a business that promises to care for the pets of Christians who are swept up in the Rapture saw a jump in business last year ahead of Camping's prediction.
"It was obviously a mistake," said Centre, who runs Eternal Earth-Bound Pets from New Hampshire. "I'm just sorry that he's not going to be doing any more predictions because it's good for business."
I’m a little bit worried that the solar flare storms either are affecting my personal judgment or the rest of the world. Given the logic of Occam’s Razor, I suppose I’m screwed.
First this week, I wrote a piece about how I agreed largely with the 700 Club’s Pat Robertson about decriminalizing marijuana. And as if that wasn’t enough to send me questioning the orientation of the universe, now I find myself with a growing modicum of respect for fear-monger pastor and end-times prophet, Harold Camping.
Famous for wrongly predicting the end of the world twice – and for bringing scads of followers and their life savings along with him – Camping has become both the butt of late night talk show monologues and the object lesson for the hubris of trying to ascertain the “mind of God.”
Those who choose to get in a knot about such things already have the Mayan calendar to blame for the current frenzy about end times, which is predicted to take place according to this ancient calendar later this year. In response to those who use such predictions to grab attention and scare believers, I wrote a piece recently that places the whole Armageddon thing in perspective for me.
Basically, my son’s school told him to sleep tight, and don’t let the bed bugs bite, but also not to be surprised if he awoke to a smoldering void instead of his home planet the next day, given that the French were about to ramp up their supercollider. So of course, he wanted to know if he still had to do his homework.
I love that kid.
Radio evangelist Harold Camping has called his erroneous prediction that the world would end last May 21 an "incorrect and sinful statement" and said his ministry is out of the prediction business.
"We have learned the very painful lesson that all of creation is in God's hands and he will end time in his time, not ours!" reads the statement signed by Camping and his staff and posted on his ministry's website.
"We humbly recognize that God may not tell his people the date when Christ will return, any more than he tells anyone the date they will die physically."
Each year, members of the Religion Newswriters Association, the world’s premier association dedicated to helping journalists write about religion, vote on what they believe are the top religion stories of the year.
This year, more than 300 religion journalists cast their ballots in an online survey conducted Dec. 10-13, choosing the death of Osama bin Laden on May 2 in a covert operation in Pakistan by U.S. Navy SEALs and CIA operatives ordered by President Barack Obama as the top story of 2011.
See the complete list of RNA's top religion stories of the year inside.