Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Racial Justice | Tracking COVID-19 (coronavirus)

Most Turn Blind Eye To ‘Judgment Day’ Broadcaster’s Apocalyptic Vision

Participants in a movement that is proselytizing that the world will end this...

Photo by Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Above: Participants in a movement that is proselytizing that the world will end this May 21, Judgment Day, gather on a street corner on May 13, 2011 in New York City.


Is the world coming to an end on Saturday? A California broadcaster says “the Bible guarantees it.” But as with Noah's Ark, he's having trouble convincing everyone of apocalyptic doom.

The judgment day ads plastered around San Diego are the work of Family Radio, based in Oakland. The network’s 89-year-old evangelical broadcaster, Harold Camping, has been frantically warning the world of its apocalyptic fate.

Camping says the earth will shake and believers will be called to the heavens on Saturday at approximately 6 p.m. local time, in each time zone. He says those remaining will endure five months of the earth's ultimate destruction.

Family Radio spokesman Tom Evans said May 21 is the result of more than five decades of studying scripture and crunching numbers.

“God placed in the Bible a very specific timeline, and he used men in the Bible and their birth and death ages as a timeline of history," said Evans.

According to Camping's calculations, Saturday marks exactly 7,000 years from the date of the great flood in Noah's day. He references the specific timeline in Genesis 7:11: ”In the six hundredth year of Norah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broke up, and the windows of heaven were opened.”

But similar to Noah, Camping is having trouble convincing everyone. Dozens of groups on Facebook are planning rapture parties to wait out the end-of-days. "On May 21st 2011, after the rapture is done and all that's left are the sinners, we're going to have one HELL of a party," writes one Facebook user.

The prediction has also inspired mocking messages on Twitter. The hashtag #IfTheWorldEndsOnSaturday is one of the top trends. "#iftheworldendssaturday I hope I've done enough in my life to be welcomed into those pearly gates," tweeted CarlaRenay.

But many of Camping's loyal listeners have been inspired to quit their jobs, sell their houses and hit the road to help get the message out.

Robert Smith, Dean of the School of Theology and Christian Ministry at Point Loma Nazarene College said he’s saddened so many are being led astray.

"He does speak authoritatively for some," said Smith. "They’ve listened to him over a period of years and I think they’ve been drawn into that sense of here’s this teacher, we’ve put our faith in him, we’ve heard him, he’s said some really good things -- we’re going to cast our lot with him.

Camping made a similar doomsday prediction in 1994, but this time, he says, "the Bible guarantees it." Family Radio’s Evans knows the stakes for them are sky high.

“We have nothing to gain from this. If it’s not true, May 22 will come and then Family Radio’s reputation in the world . . . we’ll have no reputation. People will totally discount us.”

Apocalyptic enthusiasts who wake up disappointed on Sunday can look forward to December 21, 2012 – the next doomsday prediction.


San Diego News Matters podcast branding

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.

  • Don’t have time to keep up on the latest news? We’ve got you covered with a mid-week check-in every Wednesday afternoon.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Curious San Diego banner

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.