Harold Camping Dies: Doomsday Preacher Said World Would End in 2011

Image: Harold Camping Dies: Doomsday Preacher Said World Would End in 2011

Tuesday, 17 Dec 2013 02:59 PM

By David Ogul

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Judgment Day radio preacher Harold Camping, who convinced followers that the Rapture would come on May 21, 2011, is dead at 92.

Camping died at his Alameda home near Oakland, Calif., on Dec. 15, but a statement confirming the death wasn’t released until Monday.

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A graduate of UC Berkeley who worked as a civil engineer and started a construction company, Camping later became a self-taught, self-described Bible scholar who cited “clues” sprinkled throughout the Good Book to determine his world-ending prophecies.

“It’s going to happen,” he told NPR in May of 2011. “There is no Plan B.”

The Washington Post noted he spent tens of millions of dollars to spread the word by plastering the May 21 message on more than 5,000 billboards across the country and printing 100 million pamphlets in 61 languages.

Camping first predicted Jesus’ return in 1994, but that was before the Internet and a growing array of social media platforms could make such predictions “all the more accessible to a wider demographic and more quickly,” Jay Johnson, a professor of religion at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif., told the Post. “He benefitted from it in a way that no other (doomsday doomsayer) previously had.”

Countless people were so convinced Camping was correct that they quit their jobs and sold their belongings, helping the evangelist spread his message. When May 21 came and went with little more than the Dallas Mavericks beating the Oklahoma Thunder in Game 3 of the NBA’s Western Conference Finals, Camping was crushed. He later said his calculations were off by six months because of a mathematical miscalculation. When nothing happened on Oct. 21, he retired from his radio pulpit.

Camping created his Family Stations ministry in 1958. He began hosting his Open Forum program in 1961, broadcasting the show in 30 languages and on a network of more than 140 radio stations.

After the Rapture failed to materialize, Camping’s ministry sold its most prominent radio stations and laid off staffers, resulting in assets falling from $135 million in 2007 to $29.2 million in 2011, The Huffington Post reported.

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