Harold Camping opened his front door to a reporter on Sunday, May 22 --a day that the fringe radio evangelist thought he would spend in heaven. Camping told Will Kane of the San Francisco Chronicle that he was “flabbergasted” that the Rapture did not arrive as predicted and that “it has been a really tough weekend.”
It might have been even tougher on the 89-year-old’s most loyal followers, several of whom went all-in on Camping’s biblical numerology.
Retired MTA worker Robert Fitzpatrick, who spent his life savings spreading the message, said to Reuters after the promised event failed to manifest:
“I do not understand why. . .,” as his speech broke off and he looked at his watch.
“I do not understand why nothing has happened.”
The Associated Press also reported on the Camping aftermath, speaking with Keith Bauer, a Maryland tractor-trailer driver who drove his family cross-country to witness the Rapture at Family Radio’s California headquarters. “I was hoping for it because I think heaven would be a lot better than this earth,” Bauer said.
Adrienne Martinez, 27 and pregnant, gave up medical school and her family’s life savings to spread the message of May 21. Her baby is due next month.
The Family Radio station airwaves, which were often filled with the sonorous voice of Howard Camping, went quiet on May 21. It played pre-recorded church music, devotionals and life advice throughout the day. Camping says he will be back at work at the station Monday.
Family Radio also redesigned its Web site after the Rapture failed to occur. Leading up to May 21, their site led with a line from the bible that said: “blow the trumpet…warn the people,” and a guarantee that the Rapture would occur that day. After May 21, the site was redesigned to show a globe and a headline: “Sound of a New Life.”
One Family Radio follower and board member, Tom Evans, told NPR, “I don’t know where we went wrong other than that we obviously don’t understand the Scriptures in the way that we should.” Evans says he does not want Family Radio to recalculate and announce a new date for Judgment Day, and that he hopes the organization will repay people who gave money to the cause.
Another man NPR interviewed, “his voice quavering,” said he was still holding out hope that they were one day off.
More On Faith and May 21, 2011
Photos, video: Scenes from the apocalypse
John Shelby Spong: Camping does not represent Christianity
Richard Dawkins: Science explains the end of the world
Matthew Paul Turner: The harm that ‘Judgment Day’ will do
Panel responds: How do end-times theologies impact real world behaviors?
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