May 21, 2011 will mark the second coming of Christ, or at least that’s what some Christian groups believe. The date was calculated by Harold Camping, 89, the leader of an independent Christian ministry called Family Radio Worldwide, which is based in Oakland, Calif. Camping’s date is based on his interpretation of the Bible.
His Family Radio has 66 US stations and broadcasts in more than 30 languages through international affiliates. Β His supporters have posted about 2,200 billboards around the United States about the coming apocalypse, and dozens of followers have driven across the country to spread the news.
Camping, a civil engineer who once ran his own construction business, plans to spend May 21 with his wife in Alameda, in northern California, and watch the doomsday unfold on television. Β “I’ll probably try to be very near a TV or a radio or something,” he said. “I’ll be interested in what’s happening on the other side of the world as this begins.”
Billboards, bus stop benches, and travelling caravans of RVs from Bridgeport, Conn. to Little Rock, Ark. are being used to spread the word. 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.
He says that because Jesus was crucified on Friday, April 1, 33 AD, and that it takes exactly 365.2422 days for the earth to complete one orbit of the sun, we can conclude that, on April 1, 2011, Jesus was crucified exactly 722,449.07 days ago. Add 51 days to this to get to May 1, and you get a figure of 722,500.07.
Like his last prediction, Camping’s doomsday date is based on his reading of the Bible and a timeline dating back to ancient events including the Biblical flood survived by Noah.
But atheists are not convinced. In Tacoma, Washington, atheists have organised a party for Saturday night at an arcade, under the banner “countdown to backpedalling,” on the assumption that Camping and Family Radio will change their story when Judgment Day does not eventuate.
At least 100 people are expected at the party, said Sam Mulvey, 33, an organiser of the event and the producer of a weekly atheist radio show in Tacoma.
“If the world still exists the next day, Family Radio is going to have to say something and most of the time they backpedal, and that’s what we’re counting down to,” he said. [via The Telegraph (UK), The Guardian (UK) and CS Monitor]