The incorrigible false prophet of the May 21st Doomsday theory, Oakland preacher Harold Camping, is far from being a changed man after he bit the dust for a second time and his prediction took a place among the most opprobrious jokes in history.
Making a public appearance for the first time after his prediction of the Christian rapture failed last Saturday, Camping said the catastrophic earthquake and the apocalypse will come on October 21, 2011.
The whole world is under Judgment Day and it will continue right up until Oct. 21, 2011 and by that time the whole world will be destroyed, Camping said.
The unrepentant minister did not make any apology even after a member of his inner coterie had suggested that he owed at least an apology to the public. He also abdicated all responsibility for ruining the lives of many hundreds of his followers who disposed of their properties thinking that the world was going to end on May 21.
Instead, Camping put some more brave but vicious spin on the whole joke, saying that the rapture did indeed take place, but in a spiritual sense. Many observers had predicted that Camping would likely say this once the promised Armageddon fails to show up.
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On May 21, this last weekend, this is where the spiritual aspect of it really comes through. God again brought judgment on the world. We didn’t see any difference but God brought Judgment Day to bear upon the whole world.
According to his earlier prediction, the judgment day would have unfolded in two neatly planned phases; the rapture on May 21, 2011 and the final annihilation of the world on October 21. The quake/flood juggernaut would have selectively destroyed/saved those who come in its path according to his original theory. He has made some modifications now, saying that the two will be clubbed and that the double whammy will hit us on October 21!
Camping had predicted that around 200 million people from across the world, the selected believers whose time had come to be reunited with Jesus Christ, will be ruptured to heaven on May 21 as Earth would be shaken up and flattened by a massive earthquake that would hid hit each region of the world at 6 P.M. local time. The rapture is the Biblical belief that Jesus Christ will arrive in a Second Coming to carry the believers up to heaven.
Camping's lack of repentance and insistence that rapture did take place do not surprise many though. Observers had expected Camping to put some spin on the mother of all goof-ups and get on with life as usual.
The consensus among observers is that the expensive joke played by the Family Radio leader is not the end of the story. Cults like Doomsday groups are not known to giving it up and turning a page once they end up with pie on the face. Nor are they known for being rational. They regroup around another false belief, get themselves teflon-coated against criticism and lampoon.
Now he says the end of the world will take place on October 21, the new Judgment Day. Camping had said a rolling earthquake will devastate the world on May 21, 2011 and those left behind will end up as victims of the final, all-encompassing destruction six months later, on October 21. Now that the May 21 doomsday prediction has bombed, he has just changed the date. Will there be any takers for yet another irresponsible prediction from someone who has zero credibility?
Camping also deserted his followers, whose plight had painted the picture of human tragedy around the whimsical doomsday prediction. He said he was not responsible for the bad judgment his followers made about the Judgment Day. “They should have relied on God and not me ... Family Radio is not in the business of financial advice, he said.
He is certainly not the herdsman who would guide 200 million people through a blissful rapture to heaven, but someone who would throw his lamb to the wolf!
However, experts have always said it's far too early to conclude the doomsday theorists will fade away in their shame. If you have a strong leader, the group survives, according to a professor of religion at Concordia University in Montreal. Sometimes the group falls apart. Most often, the answer given by the group is that the prophecy is true, but the interpretation was wrong, Lorenzo DiTommaso was quoted in LiveScience article.
It is also pointed out that failed predictions lead to the mushrooming of sects, as divergent thinking gets articulated by splinter groups. If this happens with Harold camping's followers, probably the world can expect more doomsday predictions. But the catch is that they first they have to regroup and shore up their battered finances.
The true impact of the botched prediction that the world would end was devastating for some followers. There were people who sold their entire savings to live up the last days on earth and then rapture to heaven. Now, they will have to take care of rather more mundane realities -- like finding a house to stay and paying bills.
The much-publicized case of Robert Fitzpatrick best explained the human tragedy of a whimsical prediction. Fitzpatrick, a retired transport worker, had spent as much as $140,000 to advertise the doom. And there are many like him.
The media has always treated the doomsday soothsayer with a mix of ridicule and scorn and dissected the end of the world prediction to shreds, showing how whimsical and fallacious a theory it is -- far from being the infallible theory which is guaranteed by Bible as Camping puts it. However, false prophets continue to have a lot of gullible people eating out of their hands.