May 21 ‘Doomsday’: Is the end near?
You’ve seen the billboards.
You’ve been handed the pamphlets.
You’ve heard the people shouting warnings outside subway stations — the end of the world is this Saturday.
Now meet their leader: Metro interviewed Harold Camping, the man responsible for the nationwide warning of Judgment Day, May 21.
“We must warn the world,” said Camping, 89, a Christian radio broadcaster and president of the Family Radio network, a California-based religious broadcasting network.
In October of last year, Family Radio launched “Project Caravan,” a mission that sends RVs manned by “latter-day prophets” all over the world. These missionaries have visited more than 100 cities across America, in every state except New Mexico. Their message is clear: The day of judgment will come May 21.
“At 6 p.m. there’s going to be a fantastically great earthquake,” said Camping. “Over the next 24 hours, as each country reaches this time, a great earthquake will come.”
Camping came to this conclusion, he says, by studying the Bible. Using similar methods, he also predicted the end of the world once before, in 1994.
“In 1992, I saw in that time, 2011 was likely the end,” he explained. “I also noticed that 1994 could have been the date. My research was incomplete at that time.”
This time, Camping is sure of his conclusions. His followers have blown through their life savings and dedicated themselves completely to the cause. In New York City, one retired MTA officer spent $140,000 on a subway campaign. Camping says millions have been spent internationally.
“We never tell any listener what to do with their money,” said Camping. “That’s their business.”
So, according to the Bible, what exactly will happen on May 21?
Camping’s calculations say that “true believers” will be instantly changed into “glorified spiritual bodies.” Those who will not be saved will suffer for months, before the world is destroyed.
What will Camping himself be doing on that day?
“The whole world will be weeping,” he said. “I think I will have my eyes glued to the TV.”
An interview with Camping
Here’s more from Metro’s interview with Harold Camping, the man who determined May 21 is going to be the exact day the world ends:
How can you be so sure Judgment Day will be May 21?
"It is absolutely going to happen. We have so much information from the Bible and the words come from the lips of God," said Camping. He pointed to Revelations 16:18, where it says a great earthquake will come. And May 21, 2011 is exactly 7,000 years after the flood in Noah’s ark, said Camping.
Exactly what kind of destruction will happen on May 21?
At 6 p.m. there’s going to be a fantastically great earthquake. Over the next 24 hours, as each country reaches this time, a great earthquake will come. Graves will be thrown open. For five months, God will rain shame upon the world. When God is finished on Oct. 21, he will annihilate the whole earth.
But you were wrong when you predicted the world would end in 1994.
In 1992, I saw in that time, 2011 was likely the end. I also noticed that 1994 could have been the date. My research was incomplete at that time.
Do you consider yourself a prophet?
“I have no authority at all,” said Camping, who said he is more an interpreter of God’s message.
What do you think about the response to your message?
It’s amazing how many people have heard about it. It’s way greater than anyone ever expected. Nothing God has ever prophesied has been talked about so much.
Can anyone be saved, or conversely, damned? Do you have to believe in Christianity to be saved?
You don’t have to be a student of the Bible to answer to God. Those who are true believers will instantly changed into a glorified spiritual body and joined with Christ. And the penalty for sin is to die.
New Jersey contractor Peter Lombardi, 44, believes Camping’s message and is one of the leaders of New York’s Project Caravan.
“At first I didn’t trust him and thought he was crazy,” Lombardi said of Camping. “But then I checked the Bible and he was right.”
Lombardi’s beliefs have caused a schism within his family, alienating him from his ex-wife and two children. “I’m the only one in the family that believes it,” said Lombardi. “They think I’m nuts.”
Solace, he says, comes from knowing that the Rapture is coming. “God comes to separate the father from the son, the mother from the daughter,” he said.
“On Saturday they’ll say, ‘those lunatics – they were right!’” said Lombardi gleefully.
Follow Emily Anne Epstein on Twitter @EmilyatMetro.