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May 21 is not the end of the world as we know it

by Brad A. Greenberg

May 13, 2011 | 8:41 pm

 

I mentioned in December that Harold Camping, the Christian radio broadcaster and founder of Family Radio, had pegged May 21 as the end of the world, the day Jesus would return to take Camping and his followers and the other real Christians home. Camping has been getting a lot more attention recently because, well, the media loves an oddball religion story.

Here’s the story from Salon:

Maybe you’ve already encountered the literature: pamphlets, subway ads, billboards on the side of the highway. “Judgment Day is coming” reads one billboard, which features a man praying in silhouette against a sunset backdrop. These are the works of a peculiar breed of Christian activists who’ve taken to the road to preach their belief in the fast-approaching End of Days. The self-appointed harbingers are not tied to any particular church—they claim organized religion has been corrupted by the devil—but rather to Internet- and radio-based ministries. And their lone mission is to tell anyone and everyone that the end of days is May 21. That’s when, they insist, God’s true believers will be lifted into heaven and saved, during a biblical event widely referred to as the Rapture.

The finer points of Christian eschatology have long been the subject of dispute (not to mention the inspiration for movies and books, like the blockbuster “Left Behind” series). Though mainstream churches reject the the notion that doomsday can be predicted by any man, fringe scholars continue to work feverishly pinpointing the moment of the final, divine revelation. And one such man—89-year-old radio host Harold Camping—has been at the game for decades.

I didn’t know much about Camping before this. I suspect few religion reporters did. One of my friends grew up with his family listening to Camping’s radio program. In short: “He is just really conservative and believes most churches have been taken over by Satan.”

Which means that Camping thinks a lot of us Christians won’t be happy to see Jesus return next Saturday. But for those who have followed Camping’s way, there is that pesky question of what to do with your pets after the Rapture takes you away. Fortunately, there is After The Rapture Pet Care, where dog-loving heathens can offer their post-Rapture pet fostering (though it may not be real).

The end of the world has been predicted before—many times. And, like the Great Disappointment, always unsuccessfully. So what are your plans for May 22? I’ll be laying on the beach.

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Since launching the blog in 2007, I’ve referred to myself as “a God-fearing Christian with devilishly good Jewish looks.” The description, I’d say, is an accurate one,...

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