‘Judgment Day’ preacher seems to have taken the money and run

Posted on May 24, 2011

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You know, far be it from me to cast suspicions or aspersions against a “noble religious leader” and the possible reality that the entire “Judgment Day” thing was nothing more than another money-making scam to take advantage of the gullibility of the blindly faithful. (Yeah, that was me being sarcastic.)

Sorry to burst your bubble, rapture fans, but that’s exactly what appeared to happen on Saturday, as thousands of people sold their homes and possessions, emptied their bank accounts, quit their jobs, and are now literally up the fecal creek without a wooden acceleration device.

And Harold Camping, the “preacher” behind the claims that the world would literally end on May 21, 2011, seems to have disappeared along with the roughly $12 Million that his followers donated to his “cause.”  (Which begs the question, if the world is going to be decimated, why would anyone – especially a religious leader – need money?)

According to minstrywatch.com, the net assets of Harold Camping’s Family Radio is estimated at over $120 million, accumulated exclusively from listener-supported donations. There have been allegations of wide-scale fraud and donations scam involvement in all three of Harold Camping’s “Judgment Day” campaigns, in 2011, 1994 and 1987. It’s being widely suggested that those who have donated money to Harold Camping to help “sound the trumpet of Judgment” should on Monday morning call their lawyers and sue Harold Camping, his Family Radio ministry and all involved associates/affiliates to recover their donations.

Harold Camping had severed all relationship with organized churches, declaring himself a prophet and claiming that the “Church Age” had ended and, thus set the stage for a situation in which scam artists and other opportunists could rake in quick profits for themselves from gullible want-to-believers by associating with his ministry.

Skeptics of religious cult movements such as Camping’s believe that suing Harold Camping and his associates for recovery of donations should set a precedent that will discourage future Judgment Day date “prophets” whose prophecies disrupt — and often ruin — the lives of millions and cause lifelong trauma to their followers.

Judgment Day has come and gone, and so has, apparently, Harold Camping, who claimed that 200 million people would “disappear unto the Lord’s grace” and a series of earthquakes would occur that would make Japan’s earthquake “look like a Sunday school picnic in comparison.”

But on Saturday, his radio station played nothing but pre-recorded church music, devotionals and life advice throughout Saturday and Camping himself is nowhere to be found. This begs a question that should be obvious to even the “devoutest” among Camping’s sheep: Why would I need “life advice” if all life on the planet is ending today?

As it became increasingly clear that Camping’s prediction was once again going horribly wrong (he had previously predicted that the World will end on September 1994 and in May 1987), he managed to give the media the slip and hasn’t been spotted since Friday night.

On Sunday, when the entire world was pointing at him and laughing, Camping made a statement to an affiliate reporter by telephone “from an undisclosed location” and said that he is “flabbergasted” that the Rapture did not arrive as predicted and that “it has been a really tough weekend” for him. On Sunday morning, Camping’s website was redesigned to show a globe and a gigantic headline: “Sound of a New Life.” The “Donate Here” buttons are still prominently placed throughout the website.

The net worth of Camping’s ministry and allegations of donation scams is reported to be more than $120 million, accumulated exclusively from listener-supported funding.

Camping now claims that Jesus did arrive ‘spiritually’ on the 21st, and that in his generous mercy, God has decided to spare us the 153 days of the tribulation, but that the world will still be ending on 21 October. This is no surprise. This is exactly what these crackpot prophets do: they’re never right, but they are great at rationalizing. His followers are busy readjusting, preparing to allow themselves to be bilked and humiliated again five months from now.

My cynical side looks at Camping’s believers and their cries today of being “victims,” and I just kind of shake my head and laugh. How much excess calcium must you have in your head to think, “Hmmmm, I’ve never heard of or met this guy before, and he was wrong the last two times he predicted the Apocalypse. I know … I’ll send him every nickel I have!”?

The people who bought into Camping’s scam are probably the same people who paid for Jim & Tammy Faye Baker’s all-for-profit “Heritage Center” amusement park. I’ve yet to be able to find the passage in the bible that says “Go ye forth and build unto me a plume ride.”

Christian eschatology is a laughably self-contradictory message about an impetuous tyrant god who, once again, is scheduled to have a temper tantrum in which he kills almost everyone, snatches up their souls, and makes them suffer for eternity for being human. The few who will be spared are rewarded with an eternity of servility, but at least they get to know they’re better than everyone else. And that’s the real lesson here: it’s all about elitism and the most extreme threats imaginable to anyone who does not support these self-appointed masters of dogma. Again, there’s no reason to believe any of it, other than that people have absorbed the propaganda for the whole of their lifetime, or adopted that propaganda as a way of ignoring, avoiding or fleeing their own personal responsibility for the good and bad in their lives. Rather than accept the fact that life is work, and that individual effort is rewarded by individual achievement, they instead choose to believe that everything – from major personal crises to toe-stubbing – is “god’s will.” They believe that death is a tailor-made mini-apocalypse, after which they will be magically translated into an uber-materialistic enchanted realm (streets paved with gold, etc.), again to be judged … and the hamster runs on the wheel.

People like Harold Camping have figured out that anyone gullible and irresponsible enough to believe that will also be very easy to con out of a life savings.

If you’re stupid enough to be scammed by an OBVIOUS huckster like a multi-millionaire radio mogul who preaches “sacrifice” and the “benefits of living a simple, non-materialistic, Christian life” – and he preaches it from his $11 Million home in California – then you kind of deserve to be crying poverty today.

All I can say is, like Camping’s billboards said, “Cry mightily.”

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Posted in: Errata