I’ve specifically avoided talk of The Rapture (the May 2011 rapture, not the numerous other claimed raptures) because it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. I’m well aware that the vast majority of Christians don’t subscribe to Family Radio’s wackiness, and I’m not the sort to paint everyone with the same brush.
However, Family Radio is an organization that managed to raise in excess of $85million (some have put the figure closer to $105 million). So there’s clearly enough people out there willing to believe their madness. Harold Camping isn’t just a misguided man, he’s an incredibly irresponsible misguided man. There’s a also a case to be made that he’s manipulative and dishonest.
Whether you think of Camping as just an every day crazy, or an evil, manipulative, wicked old man will depend largely on one thing, whether you think he truly believed the world was going to end on May 21st 2011. Given the energy and enthusiasm he put in to the claims, one might lean towards believing in him, but scratch beneath the surface and there’s a little more going on.
Firstly, let’s establish why making claims of imminent rapture is an incredibly irresponsible thing to do. Even the most outrageous claims run the risk of being believed, just look at all the tragic cults we’ve had over the years. And, as it turns out, people believed Camping’s claims.
Unfortunately, believing the world is genuinely going to end makes people do crazy things, they have nothing to lose. They do stupid things. REALLY stupid things. Selling all your belongings is one thing, murdering your child is another.
Those people really believed the world was going to end. Harold Camping planned to spend the day at home, watching TV.
“I’ll probably try to be very near a TV or a radio or something,” he said. “I’ll be interested in what’s happening on the other side of the world as this begins.”
You’d think that if he were really confident in his prediction, he’d have some sort of rapture party for the saved. Unfortunately, appearing in public would have left Camping somewhat exposed to the very much still here public. Note that he’s also not sold his house, or his possessions (unless he’s got some sort of magic rapture TV or Radio).
So is this where the fun really begins? Where we watch Camping trying to backtrack and explain his way out of this? Or will he just return the millions of dollars he misappropriated from vulnerable individuals? If past raptures are anything to go by, we eon’t get anything. Camping’s original Rapture prediction wasn’t May 2011, it was September 1994. Again, this was fairly widely publisized and obviously never happened. The real shocking thing though, is that Camping has, to this day, never explained why he got it wrong. So I wouldn’t bet on getting an explanation out of him this time either, perhaps he wasn’t meant to know. After all, when you’ve got close to a hundred million dollars in your back pocket, there aren’t many questions you need to answer.