As the streets were filled with rapture parties and the web alive with rapture discussions and jokes, a realistic question remains. After the most-hyped nonevent since Y2K, how will Harold Camping take care of his devastated Doomsday followers?
While Camping remains silent, the world cannot.
Countless followers had donated their life savings, quit schools and jobs, and left their families to alert people of the coming Doomsday, which has now passed by like any other day. Where is the return to all the investments?
On Saturday, May 21 when massive earthquakes and raptures were supposed to have taken place across the globe, the Family Radio website was down and its office deserted. Harold Camping did not answer his phone. The pre-recorded gospel talk was broadcasted throughout the day as the rapture hours passed by.
As 6 p.m. approached in California, hundreds of people gathered for after-parties. Over 100 atheists gathered outside Family Radio International headquarters in Oakland, and around 200 atheists gathered in the American Atheists convention to celebrate the (non-)rapture. One of the staff at the convention said, learn to be a discriminating and critical thinker. Base your life on evidence-based reasoning.
In Tacoma, Washington, local atheists gathered for a rapture party. Autographed Bibles were given as prizes at the event.
Later on in the day, members of the Calvary Bible Church of Milpitals, CA, gathered at Family Radio International office to offer support and comfort to the Camping's disappointed followers.
For those who were invested in this prediction, their world did end Saturday, said Rev. Jeremy Nickel, minister at Fremont's Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation. They thought they were going to heaven and they didn't. They may have donated all their money. They're going to be in a world of hurt.
As another false prophet remains silent, religious leaders are actively putting out their messages. One thing Christians, Catholics and other religious leaders seem to agree upon was no man knows when the end will come. Many Christian leaders have pointed out that the actual Biblical view on the end times denounces Camping's prediction of exactly when the end will come.
Gregory Chisholm, pastor of St. Patrick's Catholic Church of Oakland said, If one were really trying to help people prepare for the end times, one would counsel people to minister to the sick and feed the hungry and visit those who are in prison because that's exactly what the Lord says to do.
Dan Stratton, pastor and co-founder of Faith Exchange in Tribeca, New York said, We're not supposed to bring fear. We're not supposed to bring dread, and we are certainly not supposed to bring irresponsibility to where our people are just not doing what they're supposed to do coming into the day.
On his website, Timothy Dalrymple says Camping is just another true believer who believed in the wrong thing. Dalrymple continues, Was he too proud to heed the warnings of others? Was he selfish and arrogant to let others make extraordinary sacrifices on the basis of his unbiblical theories? I believe he was. I hope he does repent. More importantly, I hope he stops making these predictions and does everything in his power to make whole the people who lost so much because they believed in him.
Dalrymple had received some letters from the family members of Camping's followers. One from a daughter of parents who were caught up in the Doomsday deception causing a great divide in the family. The danger of deception is all too real and I know with this date passing, it is not the end, the daughter said.
Ed Stetzer, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's LifeWay Research, sent a series of tweets on Saturday one of which reads, Harold Camping, pls update www.family.radio.com w/your repentance statement & instructions to your now-broke followers.
The world remains on Earth, and Camping's followers too. Whether or not the self-deceptions continue or not, Camping's followers and perhaps he himself deserve better lives and real hope.