Harold Camping, whose prediction that Judgment Day would occur in May doesn't seem to have panned out, isn't giving up hope that the end of the world is nigh.
In fact, he says it's going to arrive on Friday.
The evangelical broadcaster and some of his faithful followers now say that the Rapture will occur on Oct. 21, with the faithful leaving sinners behind on Earth to face the apocalypse. And Camping, who is 90 and has been largely out of view since a stroke in June, isn't even conceding that the Day of Judgment didn't happen back in the spring, when he predicted it.
Camping's followers are carrying on, they told Benjamin Carlson of The Daily:
“Everything’s the same, nothing’s changed,” said Margaret Pease. She was one of 10 volunteers in “Caravan One,” a squadron of neon-painted RVs provided by Family Radio to disseminate the doomsday message.
Fred Store, the leader of Caravan One, continues to attend Bible study sessions. He told The Daily that three members of the team are living in his house in Sacramento, Calif.
“We’re just kind of keeping things together until Oct. 21,” he said. “We have a number of people that are traveling in this direction from the East Coast.”
Asked whether he was continuing to distribute doomsday literature to warn the world, he said no: “We haven’t handed out any tracts since May 21. There’s no reason to. Judgment Day is over.”
Not everyone is still on board, though, including some who paid the price for their belief in the spring, giving up jobs and assets to prepare for a future without worldly needs and responsibilities.
Dave Liquori, 45, who sold his house and possessions and lived for more than eight months on a Family Radio-sponsored RV, feels he has already moved on. He still listens to Family Radio, he said, but does not believe that a physical rapture will occur.
“They’re very solid, very firm in believing that Oct. 21 will be a literal rapture and a literal end of the world. I myself have been trying to punch holes in everything,” he said. “I’m looking at these events as spiritual events.”
Since leaving the neon-painted RVs, Liquori has returned to Long Island. He lives rent-free with a friend who is not a believer, and bought a Volvo with 200,000 miles on it in order to get around. He is unemployed, separated from his wife, and has no health insurance. Since May 21, he said, he has gone to family court seeking visitation rights for his 13-year-old son in Arizona; he is also toying with the idea of opening a barbecue restaurant.
“I try to be stingy with the money, because if we’re still here, I think that I owe it to try to make it as good a life for my son as possible,” he said. “I can make some phenomenal, fall-off-the-bone barbecue.”
Liquori's new skepticism about the group's beliefs was not welcomed by other members. There is plenty of dissent among other evangelicals about Camping and his prophecies.
The seeming agglomeration of bad news in the world over the past several years is just the sort of trend that gives rise to End Times movements, an expert tells The Daily. Unlikely though Camping's latest apocalyptic predictions may be, she said, "it does seem like the number of what feel like cataclysmic shifts that are taking place in our world today can provoke this kind of thinking."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.