Prior to Harold Camping’s prediction that the world would end on May 21, 2011, I have never even heard of the man; not being a listener of Christian radio shows, I generally do not pay attention to the Evangelical subculture in America. Years ago I recall hearing the likes of Jim Bakker and his fall from grace; Oral Roberts telling the media and his followers that he must raise 9 million dollars in 1987 or God would call him home; Jimmy Swaggart’s fall, similar to that of Bakker. With men being weak and not exactly the image of God despite claims to the contrary, none of these preachers were exactly regarded as figures to be emulated. But then there is Harold Camping, a man who has his own radio show, makes good money on the backs of his believers, preaches family values in the form of Ozzie and Harriet, and tries to keep his public image as pristine as possible.
But since May 21, 2011, Camping’s world became very dark, and it was not the Rapture for him; no, rather it was the personal Tribulation in the form of suicides, attempted child murder, and Mammon rearing its ugly head. The following events of horror took place right before the balmy day of May 21, 2011:
KTLA reported that 47 year old a mother, Lynn Benedetto, attempted to kill her 11 and 14 year old children in Antelope Valley, California. After listening to Camping on the radio, Lynn fell prey to the false prediction and decided the most painless way out of the world was to use a box cutter and paring knife slit their throats and wrists. The girls have recovered in a local hospital, and Lynn is in jail on a million dollars bail (1)
Then the saddest casualty of Harold Camping: 14 year-old Nastya Zachinova in Russia who hanged herself after hearing Camping’s message on the radio.(2) That’s right, post-Communist Russia allowing drivel such as Camping’s radio show to be broadcast in Russia, espousing all kinds of Doomsday messages that never came to fruition. Camping’s little Rapture at 6:00 PM (Eastern Time? Greenwich Mean Time? Pacific Time? Even Camping did not know that one) had this poor impressionable girl scared to death and as a result, she took her own life. Nastya’s mother Lyudmila is devastated, but she also could have had the authority to take the radio from her daughter and reassure her that no human being could possibly predict the end of the earth unless it’s NASA stating an asteroid is on its way to hit earth (in NASA’a case they have a better chance of being accurate than some self-styled Christian prophet.)
Then we have the story of Doris Schmitt, a faithful listener of Camping’s radio show, and what is her claim to fame? Why, her leaving of $250,000.00 to Camping in her estate will after she dies on May 2, 2011.(3) Doris had $300,000 saved up, and a fraud gets most of the money, while the remaining $50,000 is to be split up among two of her immediate descendents who are nieces. It does sound sick, and twisted, and right now her family, who is in fact poor, not rich, could have used that money to help better themselves. Doris lost two children to illegal drug use, but her newest drug of choice ‘” Camping ‘” did not appear to help her too much. In addition to Schmitt, other followers of Camping around the nation were gullible enough to empty their bank accounts, spend all their money, and expect the Rapture to take place on May 21, 2011. Many of them used that money for vacations, end of the world campaigns, and the like. One prominent case is that of Adrienne Martinez and her husband who moved to Orlando after she decided to give up medical school; now the couple has no money and she is expecting a second child. Well Adrienne could try contacting Camping for financial aid in raising that second child but I doubt he will.
True to form, Camping answered a reporter who asked him about possible suicides that he is not responsible for them at all and it is “not his fault.”(4) Camping instead chooses to blame everyone else but himself since his brand of Christianity teaches that it is okay to evade personal responsibility. Camping is “only teaching the Bible” but I suspect many others who have witnessed his false predictions, will disregard him as being a prophet since Camping already has lost much credibility.
Even some of Camping’s devout followers have left him; Trevor Hammack, a Baptist minister from Ovalo, Texas, has brushed off Camping as a nutcase who cannot predict the end of the world.(5) Camping has received other calls from disgruntled listeners on the radio but none have yet been reported as having given him all of their money and property, when they really still have their money and property. Only the very na¯ve give their money to a preacher like Camping who should go out and get a real job instead of relying upon handouts from the easily misled.
Now Camping has revised the end of the world date to October 21, 2011. This guy does not give up easily; but once that day comes and goes, he will have lost even more gullible followers, hopefully no more suicides nor young mothers killing their children, and for his own benefit, a trip to the state mental hospital, since it is not normal for a rational being to believe in such fairy tales of a Rapture, make believe, and salvation from a world where one cannot handle life day to day and thinks that death is the easy way out. The problem with so many false prophets and the like in Christianity is that the gullible are more likely to follow the words of man, not those of God. Since it has never been proven that God is a 6’1″, Caucasian, blonde, blue-eyed being, it is not at all unusual that most of its followers fall into that very description.
Camping is presently missing though, most likely hiding so that his followers do not form a lynch mob and burn him at the stake, metaphorically speaking of course. But his followers are not happy with his lies, even when he makes statements like “keep the faith.” Keep the faith in who, Camping? Certainly not you. Harold Camping is just another lowly mortal who does not have any “special insight” to the Bible that no one else has.
As for all of that money his followers have been giving him over the years, including that substantial inheritance left by Schmitt, is Camping has a conscience at all, he would give all of that money back to their rightful owners. For no real Christian can love and serve Mammon (the Almighty Dollar) and God at the same time.