In case you were otherwise engaged and were not made aware of this peculiar phenomena, for the past few months, a very small Christian group, lead by Harold Camping has been making a great hue and cry about the impending arrival of judgement day or the rapture on May 21st 2011.
You may not be surprised to learn that this is not Camping’s second prophecy. He made a similar claim in 1994. He said he wasn’t embarrassed about the previous failure because it was “premature” and regarding the current prophecy he again and again said that it was “guaranteed” and there was no way it wouldn’t happen.
The website of the group is now offline but here’s a screenshot of their homepage from Google cache:
While Family Radio, the group behind this prophecy is small, their message and the effect they’ve had has reverberated around the United States and the world. There have been hundreds of articles and news mentions of the group and its followers. Some of which made arrangements for the end of the world that would mean their lives going forward will be extremely difficult. Many euthanized their pets, used all of their savings to put up print and billboard advertisements to “blow the trumpet” and “warn people”.
Most other people are having fun with this. Here’s a satirical response from a university professor to his students Others organized to have unused clothes placed around town to simulate people being “raptured” out of them and some even asked the believers if they will gift their personal possessions to them (since they won’t be needing them in heaven).
Of course, this is the latest in a very long series of such prophecies.
The most famous one is known as the “Great Disappointment” within the Millerite movement who expected the return of Jesus to earth. That lead to the creation of two other Christian denominations: Latter Day Adventists and Jehova’s Witnesses.
Baha’is of course believe that Miller was off by only a few months and by a literal rather than figurative interpretation of the Bible. Instead of October 1844, the Bab declared a few months earlier on May 23rd 1844 (in Shiraz, Persia instead of the US).
There has been no news officially from Harold Camping so we don’t know what his reaction is. But at 89 years of age, I don’t think he’ll have much more opportunities to make further prophecies and the small group around him will dissolve into obscurity and this event will melt away into the annals of history.
Here’s a clip from Six Feet Under (mature content) which I thought was apropos: