Preacher to explain non-apocalypse

The Christian radio host who predicted the world would end over the weekend has said he is ready to talk about why the apocalypse did not arrive.

Harold Camping refused to provide any further details at his modest California home but he said he would make a full statement via broadcast through his independent ministry, Family Radio International.

The 89-year old preacher’s show, Open Forum, had for months headlined his doomsday message via the group’s radio stations, TV channels, satellite broadcasts and website.

“I will have more to say tonight,” said Mr Camping, a retired civil engineer who previously maintained there was no possibility the “Rapture” would not occur at 6pm on Saturday.

“I will be putting out a message in our broadcast.”

Mr Camping had forecast that some 200 million people would be saved, and warned that those left behind would die in earthquakes, plagues and other scourges until the Earth was consumed by a fireball on October 21.

His earlier apocalyptic prediction in 1994 also failed, but he said it did not happen because of a mathematical error.

Mr Camping said he was “flabbergasted” that his latest doomsday prophecy did not come true.

Gunther Von Harringa, who heads a religious organisation that produces content for Mr Camping’s media enterprise, said he was “very surprised” that the Rapture did not happen as predicted, but said he and other believers were in good spirits.

“We’re still searching the Scriptures to understand why it did not happen,” said Mr Von Harringa, president of Bible Ministries International, which he operates from his home.

“It’s just a matter of OK, Lord, where do we go from here?”

Herbert Walker, 66, had been convinced by his daily readings of the Bible and Mr Camping’s prediction that May 21 would see God bring chosen souls into heaven before a cataclysmic worldwide tribulation.

He was disappointed when that did not happen, he said, but planned to keep praying regularly in the hope that one day he will be counted among the saved.

While he said his faith remained unshaken by the faulty prediction, Mr Walker added that for now, he is done with believing predictions.

Signs of disappointment were also evident online, where groups that had confidently predicted the Rapture – and, in some cases, had spent money to help spread the word through advertisements – took tentative steps to re-establish internet presences in the face of widespread mockery.

The eBible Fellowship still has a website with images of May 21 billboards all over the world, but its Twitter feed has changed over from the increasingly confident predictions before the date to circumspect Bible verses that seem to speak to the confusion and hurt many members feel.

Another site that trumpeted the end, The Latter Rain, replaced its old, Rapture-predicting site with a single page of unsigned responses to questions such as “Don’t you feel stupid?” and “So, how does it feel to be wrong?”.

Family Radio’s special projects coordinator Michael Garcia said he believed the delay was God’s way of separating true believers from those willing to doubt what he said were clear biblical warnings.

“Maybe this had to happen for there to be a separation between those who have faith and those who don’t,” he said. “It’s highly possible that our Lord is delaying his coming.”

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