You may remember Family Radio, the group predicting that Judgment Day was coming on May 21, 2011, followed by the end of the world on October 21. After nothing happened on May 21, their leader, Harold Camping, claimed that Judgment Day was just invisible, that the world was still ending on October 21, and that “We had all of our dates correct” (no, really: he said this after May 21).
Well, after staking what remained of the organization’s reputation on October 21, 2011, Family Radio went big… and came up short. The world didn’t end on Friday, and it’s really hard to spin that failure.
The damage that these false predicted have already done to the Body of Christ has been profound. After the May 21 date didn’t pan out, angry callers described being financially ruined: “You’re really pathetic, you know? I wasted all my money because of you. I was putting all my money and my hopes on you… I wish I could see you face to face, I would smack you. Mr. Camping, you always say a lot of (redacted) I lost all my money because of you, you (redacted).” Another caller described the loss of something worse far more than money: “I don’t know what it means to be faithful anymore because I am really disappointed.” And of course, atheists have been using these failures to argue that Christianity is stupid.
Of course, this is yet another reminder that Psalm 146:3 isn’t joking when it says, “Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save.”
In light of the unambiguous evidence that they have no idea what they’re talking about in regards to the end-times, what should Family Radio have immediately done? I think that the answer is obvious. They should have apologized for their crazy eschatological views, their obsession with the end-times, and their loose-cannon Scriptural exegesis, as well as for the lives they ruined, the damage they inflicted upon the Body of Christ, and the two times that they humiliated Christians around the globe.
But of course, they didn’t do any of that. Instead, they sent out an appeal for money. Turns out, they didn’t budget very well past October 21:
Family Radio Stations, Inc, the radio network founded and managed by Bible teacher Harold Camping, was broadcasting a message on Saturday, one day after the world failed to end as the 90-year-old evangelist had predicted, encouraging remaining supporters to keep making donations to the network.
The message also revealed that the station, which reaped about $80 million in donations between 2005 and 2009 and also benefited from sales of some of its radio properties, may be in danger of experiencing financial difficulties.
While we’re on the subject, why did Family Radio still have any money? If they really believed the message they were proclaiming, why not live it, and give up everything for Christ, in the lead-up to the end of the world? By the way, Harold Camping retired on October 16, but apparently for health reasons, rather than a belief that he had five days left to live. He has yet to apologize.