The self-proclaimed Doomsday prophet had predicted the May 21, 2011 date to be the End of the World when 200 million people will Rapture and the earth will be struck with series of violent natural disasters, including earthquakes that would make the recent Japan’s earthquake “look like a Sunday school picnic in comparison.”
According to Camping, the prediction of the date was calculated using references in the Bible, particularly Genesis Genesis 7:4 (“Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth”) and 2 Peter 3:8 (“With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day”).
Camping and his followers, who believed “without any shadow of a doubt it is going to happen,” have been preparing for the last days, some selling their entire possessions and quitting their jobs.
An active follower of Camping Adrienne Martinez has reportedly quit her job and spending their “last” moments in a rented house in Florida. She said, “We budgeted everything so that, on May 21, we won’t have anything left.”
However, with Camping’s prediction failing completely and the chance of his reputation taking a sharp dive south increasing every passing moment, the focus has now turned on Camping’s tens of thousands of followers, who tune in regularly to his 50+ radio stations from across the world.
According to anti-cult agencies, when cult followers see their leaders fail in their Doomsday predictions, the followers react violently, sometimes even attacking their leaders as their faith in them collapse.
For instance, Jang-Lim Lee, leader of a Korean cult called “Hyoo Go” (Rapture), had predicted that in October 28, 1992, his followers will Rapture at the appointed time. Thousands of people believed in his prediction and gathered in a stadium, preparing themselves for the Rapture. They firmly believed that Jesus was coming on that date and they will be joining with him in the air. However when the event did not occur in accordance with the prediction, chaos broke out and some followers, filled with great anguish and disappointments, even tried to attack Lee with knives and kill him.
Hence, perhaps, fearing a similar reaction from Camping’s followers when they realize that his prediction has failed, Cultwatch, which is dedicated to help people who fell into cults, hopes that the Camping’s followers will follow the following 5 advice “carefully”:
1. Be prepared to accept that you are wrong. Many others have claimed to know the end of the world before now, and obviously they were wrong. They too misinterpreted Scripture, so if the rapture does not occur on the 21st of May 2011 then you will have joined their ranks. This will be a blow to your ego and some will find this failure very emotional. The best course of action is to prepare to be humble.
2. Don't let this failure destroy your faith. The Bible was not wrong, you just interpreted it incorrectly. Harold Camping and his complex string of assumptions and fact fiddling has failed you, God's Word has not failed you.
3. If you are not raptured on the 21st of May 2011, don't panic. It is not because you are a bad Christian, it is because the date is wrong. You'll find it hard to believe that something you held with such ardor and faith is erroneous, and so you will be prone to blame yourself. Don't fall into the trap of self condemnation, read Romans 8:1. Remember also that it will be extremely obvious when Jesus Christ returns, like lightning across the whole sky, there is no chance that anybody will miss it, Luke 17:24.
4. Before the 21st of May 2011 do not do any of these things: do not sell your house and give the money away, do not stop paying bills, do not say anything you will regret to friends and family, don't quit your job, don't leave your loved ones. Don't do anything that will damage your life if the 21st of May 2011 proves not to be rapture day.
5. Don't harm yourself or others. Some people who were convinced the end was coming have committed suicide or even hurt or killed others. We at Cultwatch don't believe any of Harold Camping's followers would do this. But understand that this sort of thing has happened before, and so it is prudent to talk about this unlikely possibility. If you think you might react in this way to the failure of the 21st of May 2011 date, then you need to let people know now. Do not be alone on the 21st and 22nd of May 2011. If you think there is any risk of you harming yourself or others, then be bold enough to speak out now.
For friends, families and well-wishers of Camping’s followers, Cultwatch also have the following advices:
1. We would advise that you keep a careful eye on what they are doing leading up to the date, and afterwards too.
2. Spend time with them on the 21st of May 2011, and in the days following. There are followers of Harold Camping who have given up their jobs to travel the world handing out tracts proclaiming the world's end. These people are going to be especially upset when the 21st of May 2011 proves to be just another day.
3. It would be good if officials in the countries where these people are could make contact with them, again especially on and after the 21st of May 2011.