This past Saturday was like any other Saturday. My 4-year-old disrupted my slumber at his usual early hour and insisted on watching The Sunny Side Up Show while I fell back asleep. Eventually, I woke up, made breakfast and went about my day. In the afternoon my son and I sat out front and watched as our small town’s Viking Fest Parade made its way merrily down our street and into town. The end of the world was the furthest thing from my mind.
By this time everyone knows the story of the faux doomsday that was predicted for May 21st, 2011. Harold Camping, an 89-year-old radio show minister, had forecast this date as the unquestioned end of days. It was supposed to be the day of the Rapture, when all righteous Christians would ascend to heaven in God’s affectionate embrace while the rest of us non-Christians were abandoned; forced to suffer months of earthquakes, famine and deep introspection as we tried to figure out how it could be possible that the Bible thumpers had it right.
Instead, nothing happened. Life went on as usual. Harold Camping was wrong.
It’s not surprising that an octogenarian, God-fearing man of the cloth would claim to know the precise arrival of Judgment Day. What is surprising is that anyone took him seriously. My Grandmother is also in her eighties and had she predicted a date for the End Times, we simply would’ve patted her lovingly on the head and insisted she get some rest. But because this aging crackpot is the president of the Family Radio network his claim was considered legitimate by his loyal followers (aka “idiots”).
Some of the articles I came across documenting Camping’s failed prediction mention a few of these dumb asses by name. Robert Fitzpatrick, the leader in the clubhouse for the 2011 Sucker of the Year Award, apparently spent $140K of his life savings to advertise the rapture around New York City. Needless to say he was a little disappointed when Armageddon failed to materialize.
Also disappointed was a man named Jeff Hopkins. This genius pissed away his retirement money on $4 a gallon gas, filling up his car over and over again so he and his lighted sign could drive back and forth between Long Island and New York City, informing the most cynical metroplex on earth that the end was near.
And those who didn’t have thousands of dollars burning holes in their pockets simply donated what they could afford to Family Radio International to help pay for the organization’s official billboard and painted RV campaign aimed at getting the word out to the non-believers.
We got the word. And we collectively laughed at it.
You’d think Harold Camping’s utter failure as a doomsday prophet (this was his second apocalyptic misfire) would be enough to keep him out of the public eye. Unfortunately, he’s still going strong. After originally being “flabbergasted” by the lack of fire and brimstone this past Saturday, he’s now saying May 21st was a spiritual Judgment Day and that October 21st will be the actual end of humanity. And since judgment has already been passed, there’s no need to inspire people through advertisements to make their peace with God, which is good because something tells me his closest followers are probably out of money at this point.
I only hope this old man lives long enough to see October 21st come and go as uneventfully as May 21st did. His baseless predictions have caused a great deal of pain and suffering, not to the heathens out there like myself, but to the people who looked up to him and trusted his word. While these people are ultimately responsible for their own stupidity, it would be nice to watch Harold Camping fail so publicly one last time. It’s the least he could do.