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Harold Camping's failed prediction of the rapture

Part 8: Speculation of Harold Camping's
retirement. An apology. Webmaster comment.


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2011-OCT-24: Harold Camping may have retired:

The Christian Post reported that Harold Camping, 90, said on OCT-16 that he was no longer able to lead Family Radio Stations. Also on OCT-16, according to documentarian Brandon Tauszik, Camping now believes that nobody can know exactly when the apocalypse will occur. He believes that God withholds critical information from him so that he cannot be precise in his calculations.

Pastors Tom Evans, John Gomez, and others had recently taking over many of Camping's on-air tasks. 1

However, Suzan Espinoza, Camping's daughter and manager of the International Department at Family Radio denied that her father has retired completely. She wrote in an email to Christian Post:

"He no longer hosts the Open Forum, but he remains the General Manager of Family Radio. Mr. Camping often jokes that he is 'retired' now because he works from home instead of going in to the office. It is not a word he would ever use with a reporter."

During late 2011-OCT, Camping had an audio recording posted on the Family Radio web site. He said:

"Why didn't Christ return on Oct. 21? It seems embarrassing for Family Radio. But God was in charge of everything. We came to that conclusion after quite careful study of the Bible. He allowed everything to happen the way it did without correction. He could have stopped everything if He had wanted to." 2

Christian Post reported that Camping apologized for having earlier said: "people who did not believe that May 21 should not be the Rapture date, probably had not been saved." This statement seems to have one too many "not"s in it. We have alerted Christian Post. 2

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2012-MAR: Harold Camping apologises:

A little more than nine months after his prediction of the rapture for 2011-MAY-21, Harold Camping issued his "March 2010" letter, saying that his prediction was an "incorrect and sinful statement."

He wrote:

"... we humbly acknowledge we were wrong about the timing; yet though we were wrong God is still using the May 21 warning in a very mighty way. In the months following May 21 the Bible has, in some ways, come out from under the shadows and is now being discussed by all kinds of people who never before paid any attention to the Bible. We learn about this, for example, by the recent National Geographic articles concerning the King James Bible and the Apostles. Reading about and even discussing about the Bible can never be a bad thing, even if the Bible’s authenticity is questioned or ridiculed. The world’s attention has been called to the Bible.

We must also openly acknowledge that we have no new evidence pointing to another date for the end of the world. Though many dates are circulating, Family Radio has no interest in even considering another date. God has humbled us through the events of May 21, to continue to even more fervently search the Scriptures (the Bible), not to find dates, but to be more faithful in our understanding.

We have learned the very painful lesson that all of creation is in God’s hands and He will end time in His time, not ours! We humbly recognize that God may not tell His people the date when Christ will return, any more than He tells anyone the date they will die physically.

We realize that many people are hoping they will know the date of Christ’s return. In fact for a time Family Radio fell into that kind of thinking. But we now realize that those people who were calling our attention to the Bible’s statement that "of that day and hour knoweth no man" (Matthew 24:36 & Mark 13:32), were right in their understanding of those verses and Family Radio was wrong. Whether God will ever give us any indication of the date of His return is hidden in God’s divine plan." 3

Christian Post conducted an informal poll among visitors to their website. They asked the question: "Do you forgive Harold Camping." The allowed three responses:

  • 31% chose "Yes, we all make mistakes."

  • 25% chose "No, I don't consider this apology genuine."

  • 44% chose "I might [forgive him] if he would give back the money." 4

Within 50 hours of the posting of Ms. Banks' article on the Huffington Post, it received 1,925 comments from readers. Most were highly negative. One that stood out was by Benin Oakland who wrote: (Spelling and punctuation corrected)

"First you were swearing that God had revealed to you the truth, and that this was going to happen.

Then you were admitting you were wrong, but swearing that THIS TIME, God had revealed to you the truth.

Now you're admitting that you were incorrect and sinful. I coulda told you that. And that's probably why God didn't tell you the first time, the second time, or the third time.

Now if we as a culture and a world can only understand that the Creator of the Infinite Universe probably has a lot better things to do with his time than confide his future plans, his opinions of non-missionary position sex, his opinions about non-procreative sex, and who it is the makes the Very Best Christian Ever to the likes of you...

We'll probably all be a lot better off."

Another is by Bearthoven:

"It is the height of human egotism to think and claim they know the mind of God or even God's will. These are the same people who take the Bible literally without any regard to word usage, phraseology, context, or cultural background. Yet these same people ignore the most important message of the Bible, love thy neighbor as thyself...love thy enemy....etc."

And finally a distressing story from Icovert:

"The saddest story I read was of a 14-year old whose parents gave away all their savings, even the child's college fund. Broke my heart. I think that kid should consider suing Camping." 4

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Webmaster's editorial:

We normally do not express our opinions on this web site. Our mandate is to carefully explain the beliefs, practices, and deeds of others. However, because of the potential for loss of life arising from Camping's predictions, we are moved to make an exception in this case.

Almost complete freedom of speech is guaranteed throughout North America by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the text of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The importance of this freedom is reinforced daily as Americans read articles and observe videos in the the media about the misery, violence, and loss of life that the lack of freedom of speech and religion causes in other countries.

However, freedom of speech must be used responsibly. It only works well when the public is well educated in techniques of skeptical analysis of statements, including religious prophecies. I feel that schools and faith groups have an obligation to teach the 100% failure rate of prophecies that were to have happened in our past. People need to approach prophecies for our future with high levels of skepticism and doubt.

Unfortunately, there will always be frightened and depressed people in the world whose grasp on life is tenuous. We would like to see all pro-life religious leaders make a contribution to lowering the suicide rate by following a self-imposed moratorium on future prophecies on topics like the rapture, tribulation, war of Armageddon, destruction of the world, etc.

If they don't, then they will be exhibiting depraved indifference towards the most vulnerable among us, and will have a moral responsibility -- but probably not an legal one -- for the suicides that they trigger. They will have blood on their hands.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Luiza Oleszczuk, "Harold Camping Exclusive: Family Radio Founder Retires," The Christian Post, 2011-OCT-24, at: http://www.christianpost.com/
  2. Luiza Oleszczuk, "Harold Camping's Daughter Responds to Claims Family Radio Founder Has 'Retired'," The Christian Post, 2011-NOV-03, at: http://www.christianpost.com/
  3. "An important letter from Mr. Camping - March 2012," Family Radio, 2012-MAR, at: http://www.familyradio.com/
  4. Adelle M. Banks, "Harold Camping Says May 21 Rapture Prediction Was 'Incorrect And Sinful'," Huffington Post, 2012-MAR-08, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
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Copyright 2011 & 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2012-MAR-10
Author: B.A. Robinson

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