By Jim Hagerty
For almost a year, a group of Christians has been predicting that all believers in Jesus Christ will be swept from Earth by God Saturday, May 21.
Led largely by minister Harold Camping, the group claims the rapture will happen this week and have been busy pointing non-believers to its hundreds of billboards and tracts.
What has flippantly been referred to as Judgement Day is now upon the world.
Don’t look for signs, Camping, who spreads most of his messages on radio, says. It’s too late. Accepting Jesus is the only way to avoid being left behind to face a world of disease, war, poverty and chaos.
Camping’s followers also believe the “day” of judgement will last five months. By Oct. 21–the day they claim Christ will return– the world will be nearly destroyed. Christians, meantime, will be in Heaven, basking in the glory of God, as stated in scripture.
While he has a mass of followers who’ve stopped paying their bills and have prepared to be whisked away, Camping is far from lacking in opponents.
To many who claim to be traditional Christians, Camping is a false prophet–nothing more than a snake oil pitchman with no ability to predict if, or when, believers will taken away in a rapture.
“No man knows when Christ will return,” Kathy Ames, of Michigan, said. “So, logically, the idea of a rapture is something that also cannot be predicted by anyone but God. Nobody knows when these things will happen. There is even a jury out on whether a rapture will even take place.”
Camping, 89, is the president of Family Radio, a Christian ministry based in Oakland, Calif.
This year is not the first time the Colorado native has attempted to predict how prophecy will unfold.
In 1994, a group of Camping’s followers gathered inside the Alameda, Calif. Veterans Memorial Building to witness the return of Christ. In Camping’s 1992 book, 1994?, he wrote that Christ would return Sept. 6, 1994.
Like others who missed the mark, Camping recanted, claiming he made a mathematical error, and that God would make the exact date known in the future.
Camping also hasn’t been alone in predicting the end of the world, return of Jesus Christ or the rapture.
Following is a list of past “prophets” who’ve incorrectly predicted the return of Jesus and the end of the world:
Herbert W. Armstrong: Founder of the former Worldwide Church of God. Armstrong incorrectly predicted Jesus Christ would return several times before his death in 1986.
Haile Selassie I: Former emperor of Ethiopia and central figure of the Rastafari movement who many continue to claim is the Second Coming of Christ. Some of his followers believe he will return in 2012 to rule the world as God.
Jim Jones: Founder of the Peoples Temple who also claimed to be Christ before he organized a mass suicide of 918 followers in Guyana in 1978.
David Koresh: Leader of the Branch Davidian group and self-proclaimed prophet. Koresh and 76 of his followers died during a fiery FBI raid of his Waco, Texas compound in 1993. It is also believed that Koresh claimed to be Jesus Christ.
Jehovah’s Witnesses Watchtower Society: A group of ministers and other members who predicted incorrectly that Christ would return in 1914, 1915, 1918, 1920, 1925, 1941, 1975 and 1994.
Ronald Weinland: Former Worldwide Church of God pastor who claims he and his wife, Laura, are the two End Time prophets written about in the book of Revelation. Weinland predicted the world would be destroyed by God three years ago in his book, 2008: God’s Final Witness. When that didn’t occur, he told his followers that the catastrophic events he predicted did, in fact, come to pass–on a spiritual plane.
Weinland later announced that God revealed to him that Jesus Christ will return in spring 2012.
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