In case you haven’t heard, the world is going to end on May 21st. The date will mark the second coming of Christ, or at least that’s what one US-based Christian group believes in. Billboards are popping up around the globe, including in major US and Canadian cities, proclaiming May 21 as Judgment Day.
The date was calculated by Harold Camping, the leader of an independent Christian ministry called Family Radio Worldwide, which is based in Oakland, California. Camping’s date is based on his interpretation of the Bible. “Cry mightily unto GOD for HIS mercy,” says one of the mounted signs from Family Radio.
Camping is said to have predicted that date through a series of mathematical calculations and unravelling of codes hidden behind the story of the great flood in the Bible. He was convinced that God gave hints of the doomsday in the scriptures and that it was their job to decode it.
Camping’s group isn’t the only one following Camping’s apocalyptic prediction though. A number of loosely affiliated websites and radio broadcasts have created a movement independent of churches that have organized to proclaim the day as the end of the world.
Billboards, bus stop benches, and travelling caravans of RVs from Bridgeport, Conn. to Little Rock, Ark. are being used to spread the word. Family Radio has sponsored five caravans — groups of three or four vans full of followers who have been traveling the United States passing out fliers since October.
There were nine billboards in South Florida, but the contract has expired on seven, said Family Radio’s Michael Garcia. The network bought 1,200 nationwide and 2,000 overseas. He declined to disclose the cost.
89-year old Camping says the Bible acts as a calendar by which the dates of prophecies can be calculated. “Beyond the shadow of a doubt, May 21 will be the date of the Rapture and the day of judgment,” he said.
While this isn’t the first time that the end of the world has been predicted, there are many believers that will adhere to the date, even if it passes. “It would be like telling the Wright brothers that every other attempt to fly has failed, so you shouldn’t even try,” said Chris McCann, who works with eBible Fellowship.
So, how ‘exactly’ will the world end? Great earthquakes will shake the Earth at 6 p.m. local time (and continue through Oct. 21), and believers will be called to the heavens, Camping has been saying on his radio program.
Camping points to the numerology in the Bible: “One day is with the Lord as a thousand years and a thousand years is one day.” He said that means that 7,000 years from the great flood is the end of the world.
Camping and Family Radio followers also cite Genesis, which says the flood began on the “17th day of the second month.” Camping said that day is May 21, according to his interpretation of the Jewish calendar.
But about 17 years ago, Camping also predicted that the world would end in September 6, 1994. When his prediction failed, he said his new prediction in 2011 would definitely come true.
The group, made up of members and volunteers from the US, left their jobs and even their families to travel the world to spread the message.
Kenji Hoffman left his family and his successful job as a mechanic in the US to join the Family Radio crusade around the world. He used his savings to facilitate his trip to the Philippines. He said he believes God has left clear signs that the world is coming to an end.
No one knows how many people believe Judgment Day is right around the corner. But it appears that many became believers in 2009 after turning on Family Radio, a Christian network worth more than $100 million.
A 2010 poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that about 41 percent of Americans think Jesus will return before 2050. And some scholars have said the Mayan calendar indicates an end of the world on Dec. 21, 2012.
“I do believe Christ is coming, but I don’t believe we know the time or the hour,” said Warren Gage, dean of faculty at the Knox Theological Seminary in Fort Lauderdale. “I think there’s a very clear scriptural reference that no one knows the time in the end. May 21 is not circled on my calendar. And I’ll be looking forward to Sunday, May 22.”
However, some are having fun with it, such as the Florida Atheists and Secular Humanists, who will mark May 21 with a “Rapture Party” at the Lauderdale Beach Hotel Tiki bar in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.
“We definitely see a lot of scoffing and mocking,” Ropp said. “But really, we take this as expected. Jesus said when you speak the truth, you’ll be hated.” [via NPR, CBC (CA), The Huff Post and Sun-Sentinel]