Are the End Times near? Some people think they’re arriving on Saturday, May 21! That’s the day Harold Camping, the 89-year-old founder of Family Radio, predicts the start of the End Times foretold in the Bible. He fixes this dated based on numerical insights he says are clear in his study of the Bible.
Camping told New York magazine: “When the clock says about 6 p.m., there’s going to be this tremendous earthquake that’s going to make the last earthquake in Japan seem like nothing in comparison. And the whole world will be alerted that Judgment Day has begun.” This is the Rapture, when millions are swept away and the End Times begin, according to Camping’s interpretation.
Some of Camping’s followers have sold off their assets and our touring the country in a last-ditch effort to get out the alert. Perhaps you’ve seen their mural-covered campers? Or the movement’s billboards? A long line of these campers showed up in Washington D.C. last week, where they drew some chuckles during a seminary graduation at National Cathedral.
But this is no laughing matter for Camping and his organization. In addition to the slogan-covered campers, billboards and other roadside signs, Camping has been waging an active web campaign, including a website called wecanknow.com.
End Times predictions span thousands of years. The book of Revelation in the Bible is just one of many pieces of apocalyptic literature in the ancient world. As we’ll discuss this week, we have plenty of modern examples as well—and I will share with you some of my own thoughts about why America is particularly fertile ground for this obsession.
But i want to make this clear: As a social scientist, I don’t judge these proclamations. Instead, I am eager to learn more by asking questions.
What is fueling these apocalyptic predictions in the U.S.?
What do you make of Camping’s prediction?
Do you think a Judgment Day will come?
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(Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.)