FaithWorld

Judgment Day forecaster points to new doomsday date

(Harold Camping during an interview at Family Stations Inc. offices in Oakland, California May 16, 2011/Reuters Television )

The evangelical Christian broadcaster whose much-ballyhooed Judgment Day prophecy went conspicuously unfulfilled on Saturday has a simple explanation for what went wrong — he miscalculated. Instead of the world physically coming to an end on May 21 with a great, cataclysmic earthquake, as he had predicted, Harold Camping, 89, said he now believes his forecast is playing out “spiritually,” with the actual apocalypse set to occur five months later, on October 21.

Camping, who launched a doomsday countdown in which some followers spent their life’s savings in anticipation of being swept into heaven, issued his correction during an appearance on his “Open Forum” radio show from Oakland, California.

The headquarters of Camping’s Family Radio network of 66 U.S. stations had been shuttered over the weekend with a sign on the door that read, “This Office is Closed. Sorry we missed you!”

During a sometimes rambling, 90-minute discourse that included a question-and-answer session with reporters, Camping said he felt bad that Saturday had come and gone without the Rapture he had felt so certain would take place. Reflecting on scripture afterward, Camping said it “dawned” on him that a “merciful and compassionate God” would spare humanity from “hell on Earth for five months” by compressing the physical apocalypse into a shorter time frame.

Manila shrugging off foreign prophets of May 21 doomsday

(Detail of Michelangelo's Judgment Day fresco Christ the Judge, and the Virgin at the Vatican's Sistine Chapel)

A U.S.-based Christian group took to the streets of Manila earlier this week to preach that the end of the world is fast approaching — on May 21 at sunset, to be precise. Volunteers from the religious group Family Radio, a Christian radio network in the United States, donned neon-coloured t-shirts and walked along Manila’s main thoroughfares, handing out pamphlets to passerby with warnings of impending Judgement Day.

The designation of May 21 came from Family Radio president Harold Camping, who predicted that date through a series of mathematical calculations and the unravelling of codes behind the Bible story of the great flood. He was convinced that God gave hints of doomsday in the scriptures and that it was their job to decode them.