Rev Harold Camping: Preacher

Evangelist who provoked a media frenzy by predicting that the end of the world was nigh – three times

Harold Camping was a Christian radio evangelist whose brimstone-ridden sermons stoked an international media frenzy after his Armageddon prophecies coursed through the internet. That life on Earth continued after 21 May 2011 was a crushing disappointment to Camping, his followers and millions of listeners on his Family Radio network.

He was a self-taught Bible scholar who came to his prophecies through complex mathematical calculations and “clues sprinkled throughout the Bible.” In early May 2011 he warned, “It is going to happen. There is no Plan B.” He spent tens of millions of dollars to spread his doomsday message, his 21 May prediction plastered on more than 5,000 billboards across the country. He had 100m pamphlets printed in 61 languages, including one that read, “The End of the World is Almost Here!” His volunteers canvassed the country, including dozens who walked Washington’s Mall handing out fliers that reminded passers-by to “Save the Date.”

Camping told listeners that Judgment Day would begin with an earthquake. True Christians would experience a rapture and 200 million would ascend to heaven. Many followers sold their homes, quit their jobs and emptied their savings accounts to help finance his end-of-the-world campaign. After 21 May came and went, Camping emerged from his home “flabbergasted.” He called 21 May an “invisible Judgment Day” and said his calculations had been off by six months. “On October 21 of this year, the whole world is going to be annihilated, and never be remembered.” When that did not come true either, Camping retired.

He was born in 1921 in Colorado, and was raised in the Christian Reformed Church, a Protestant denomination. In the 1980s he split from the church to form his own congregation. He worked as an engineer for a government contractor during the Second World War, then started a construction business but sold it to pursue his religious calling. He began radio-preaching in the late 1950s. He opened his first station in the San Francisco area, he said, because there was no competition. He dominated the market, buying more radio stations, and Family Radio became a $100m dynasty.

He ventured into prediction in the early 1990s, saying that the rapture would arrive on 6 September 1994. When his first prophecy did not come to fruition, he said his revised calculations pointed to 2011. After that deadline he apologised to his listeners for misleading them. “Let’s pray more than ever for God’s mercy,” he said. “God is in charge, and we must always keep that in mind.” µ T

Harold Egbert Camping, preacher: born Boulder, Colorado 19 July 1921; married 1942 Shirley Vander Schuur; died Alameda, California 15 December 2013.

© The Washington Post

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

Power of the geek Gods

Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

Perfect match

What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high