“The End Is Nigh” – May 21, 2011

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:

  • Guest

    This phenomenon

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9TS8Q77Tp0 TV Nation link

    Youtube has a segment from Michael Moore’s TV Nation (1994) in which
    correspondent Louis Theroux investigates the religious groups known as
    “Millennialists” (the most infamous of which being the Branch Davidians
    of Waco, TX), most of which believe the world was to end in the year

    First up is Harold Camping’s first attempt at predicting the End of the World.

    To view the piece about Leland Jensen (Baha’is Under the Provision of the Covenant) cut to 7:30.


  • Anonymous

    Thanks! I had forgotten about this for a moment.

  • Peyamb

    I wrote this on another site. I really see no difference between such folks and literalist minded Bahais who are waiting for a catastrophe to push the world towards the Bahai community. Bahais from top down also believe in the coming of spectacular events. Just google the BBC specials on the Faith back in the 90′s where Douglas Martin states the Prophet said there would be peace by the year 2,000:
    And if you are a Bahai, you believe it already happened and Christ has already returned. But yesterday’s Rapture non-event, made me starting thinking of something. I wonder how many Bahais shook their heads feeling sorry for these crazy Christians who thought the world would end in a literal way? I wonder how many Bahais felt just felt a little proud thinking how they are so different from these crazy people because they understand what the Bible truly meant about the end times? But I also wonder how many of these same Bahais look in the mirror and ask themselves, “maybe I ma making the same mistakes as these people?” HOw quickly the Bahai community has forgotten about the so called world-wide political peacer and end to war that was supposed to happen at the end of the last century. Remember that folks? It got brushed under the carpet real quick, didn’t it? But the Bahais are still waiting for some catastrophe in the world to make the world turn to the Bahai community for salvation. Instead of actually making a difference in the world, I feel the Bahai community is becoming more and more inward looking- waiting for the world just to collapase before the Faith changes in anyway. And given, there is A LOT in the Writings (especially from Shoghi Effendi) that would lead one to believe that is the course the world has to take. But are the Bahais wrong in reading these writings in a literal way? As wrong as these Christians who are wanting a literal end to the World?How does this have anytihng to do with the gay issue? A LOT! It is all tied in with the literalist/fundamentalist view of the world. THe same view that keeps the Bahai community stagnant on the issue of homosexuality, is the same view that makes Bahais think the world has to fall apart before teh Bahais are taken seriously. So I don’t know, if I ever hear a Bahai make a joke or be condescending towards a poor Christian that had his heart broken when the Rapture didn’t occur, I”d ask that Bahai “How exactly are you any different from him?”

  • Concourse on Low

    Peyamb wrote:

    “HOw quickly the Bahai community has forgotten about the so called
    world-wide political peacer and end to war that was supposed to happen
    at the end of the last century. Remember that folks? It got brushed
    under the carpet real quick, didn’t it?”

    Incisive remarks, Peyamb! Thanks so much for this!

    The Baha’i world’s willful disengagement from any meaningful social justice pursuits is pathetic. But why bother when you’re waiting with giddy expectation for the Great Catastrophe.

  • Concourse on Low

    The leader of this Rapture movement is already making excuses: the rapture did happen, but it was an INVISIBLE JUDGMENT. hahaha

    But this sort of figurative post-facto justification is nothing new.

    Today’s Abrahamic religions are, for the most part, the theological rationalizations of crestfallen apocalyptics. And the Baha’i Faith is no exception.


  • Peyamb

    Actually now he’s saying it will happen on Oct 21. LOL!

  • Baquia

    Their website has also been scrubbed (I’m glad I took a screenshot!). What’s really astonishing is the amount of money they are pulling in. At first I thought they were a tiny ‘ministry’ but they have assets of $121 USD – that is more than twice the Baha’i community in the US!

  • Gordon Freeman

    Well, the world SHOULD end. Many agree on that.