Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The World Is Ending!...Or Is It?: Harold Camping Is at It Again

Remember Harold Camping, who made international news by declaring that Judgement Day would occur on May 21st, 2011? Well, he is at it again.

For those who do not remember, or are a little fuzzy on the details, Camping claimed that Judgement Day would happen on May 21st, with massive earthquakes occurring all over the world at 6:00pm local time in each time zone. Then, all "true" Christians (i.e. those Christians who agreed with everything Camping said) would be Raptured into heaven, beginning a five month period of "fire, brimstone, and plagues" on Earth, culminating with the end of the world on October 21st. Family Radio spent over $100 million dollars on advertising in order to spread the word of the upcoming deadline.

Well, to the shock of almost nobody, May 21st came and went without millions of Christians disappearing, leaving their empty clothes behind (I guess heaven is a nudist colony) as an omen to all us sinful heathens of the horrible agony God was about to inflict upon us. Damn.

(Video via Unreasonable Faith. While I am not an atheist, it is an awesome blog. I recommend checking them out.)

Afterwards, in his typical delusional fashion (this was his third failed prediction for the end of the world; the others were in 1988 and 1994), Camping announced that the "judgement" had been spiritual, not physical. Instead, the Rapture of "true" believers will occur simultaneously with God's destruction of the Earth, which Camping still believes will occur October 21st. The only difference this time around is that Camping is not spending millions of dollars on advertising. While most believe this is because Camping spent all his money proclaiming his previous date, Camping says it is because there is no point, since May 21st was Judgement Day. Basically, if you were not saved by then, you are screwed. God will annihilate you when He destroys the Earth on October 21st.

Now that October 21st is approaching, he is back in the news again.The only thing I am grateful for is that, since Camping's last prediction failed, he is not getting anywhere near as much media coverage this time. At least, not so far. We can only pray it stays that way.

I have written about end-time prophecies and why they are so popular before. To put it bluntly, I think they are a bunch of crap. I am no more worried that the world might end on October 21st than I am worried that I might be abducted by aliens tomorrow. What does bother me, though, is the enormous amount of money spent because of these predictions. As I mentioned above, Camping's group spent $100 million dollars in the weeks leading up to May 21st. Think of all the good that money could have done. How many hungry people could have been fed? How many free or low-cost clinics could have been supported so that the uninsured could have access to desperately needed medical care? How many inner-city schools could have been renovated, giving kids a better chance of succeeding in the future? How much aid could we have sent to areas all over the world struggling to recover from natural disasters? How many teenagers from low-income families could have been put through college, giving them a better chance at breaking the cycle of poverty? How many houses could have been built for low-income families? How many shelters could have been built to help the homeless?

I could go on and on. The sheer waste of it makes me sick. Instead of being so obsessed with when the world is going to end, why can we not be obsessed with making this world a better place, with helping those less fortunate than ourselves?

To be honest, this is something I do not understand about many conservative Christian churches. In the Bible itself, Jesus reveals what is truly important:

When an "expert in the law" asked Jesus "what must I do to inherit eternal life?", Jesus said "Love the Lord your God will all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all you mind" and "Love your neighbor as yourself". Jesus then goes on the define "neighbor" as everyone around you (Luke 10:25-37).

In the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, which is extremely popular with conservative Christians, since they take it as evidence for the existence of an eternal hell (as a universalist I obviously disagree, but that is a discussion for another day) Jesus determines who is a sheep (good) and who is a goat (bad) by asking whether they gave the hungry something to eat, gave the thirsty something to drink, invited the stranger into their homes, gave clothes to those who needed them, looked after those who were sick, and visited those who were in prison (Mathew 25:34-40). 

Jesus did NOT say you needed to hold the "right" beliefs, or follow the "right" rules, or belong to the "right" denomination, or go to church every Sunday morning and Wednesday night, or anything like that. Jesus did NOT ask whether you knew the date of the end of the world, including the exact timeline of the events that will encompass it [e.g. the Rapture, the Tribulation, Battle of Armageddon, the Millennium, the Second Coming, the Resurrection, etc. (disagreements over the order in which these events will occur have actually caused churches to split apart, but, again, that is a discussion for another day)].

Yet all those things are what conservative Christian churches pay the most attention too! A couple of years ago, I was having a conversation with an acquaintance with mine who was a fundamentalist Christian. I brought up a similar argument and his response was that there was no point on spending all there time attempting to "fix" the world since the world was going to end soon anyway. Better to work on saving souls before it is too late. While I know that my acquaintance was a good person, his answer disgusted me. All of this "End Times" crap disgusts me. I can only hope that when October 22nd dawns and the world is still here, people will recognize that Harold Camping is nothing but a fraud and maybe begin to realize that we have more important concerns to focus on than attempting to predict the end of the world.

Apologies both for the long post and a month long disappearance. I have been struggling with terrible writer's block, but hopefully that is ending.


  1. Silly ol Harold,

    Sammy, are you on Facebook? I'd love to "friend" you.

  2. I guess that means he is doing okay after his stroke? This stuff bothered me tremendously when I was little kid in church. Now, not at all. I think it is Camping who is nearing an end. I would hate to leave that type of foolishness as a legacy.