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A letter from Harold Camping admitting wrongdoing to his disgruntled flock
March 12, 2012 12:37 PM   Subscribe

After numerous failed doomsday predictions, Family Radio founder Harold Camping announced this month that he has no plans to predict ever again the day of God's Judgment. He also issued an apology to listeners, admitting that he was wrong. posted by Blasdelb (100 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
/buys canned food
posted by goethean at 12:40 PM on March 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


Now this is a sure sign of the apocalypse.
posted by sourwookie at 12:42 PM on March 12, 2012 [18 favorites]


Aw, now you just know the world's gonna end this week, just his luck.
posted by clockzero at 12:43 PM on March 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


Aww, don't be so hard on yourself, Harold. I mean, it's not the end of the world...
posted by jcreigh at 12:44 PM on March 12, 2012 [66 favorites]


Well, sometimes we learn things other people have known for a very long time. And we learn them the hard way.
posted by Xoebe at 12:44 PM on March 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


Ah, good. Now that we've all come to our senses, certainly his Family Radio network will be returning all the listener contributions they collected to put up those zillion "Judgment Day: The Bible Guarantees It" billboards last summer?

... right?
posted by rkent at 12:48 PM on March 12, 2012 [10 favorites]


Cool, is he going to refund all the millions he collected from gullible fools?

I'm just glad nobody killed their kids or pets in preparation.
posted by notseamus at 12:49 PM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Good luck getting such an apology from the Mayans next January.
posted by ocschwar at 12:50 PM on March 12, 2012 [13 favorites]


From the statement:
Huge portions of this world that had never read or seen a Bible heard the message the Christ Jesus is coming to rapture His people and destroy this natural world.

Yes, we humbly acknowledge we were wrong about the timing; yet though we were wrong God is still using the May 21 warning in a very mighty way. In the months following May 21 the Bible has, in some ways, come out from under the shadows and is now being discussed by all kinds of people who never before paid any attention to the Bible. We learn about this, for example, by the recent National Geographic articles concerning the King James Bible and the Apostles. Reading about and even discussing about the Bible can never be a bad thing, even if the Bible's authenticity is questioned or ridiculed. The world's attention has been called to the Bible.
So from his perspective, the laugh's on us. From a publicity stunt gone wrong, Missionary Harold Camping now gets to claim success at "spreading the Word" to millions in the hopes that they would listen and convert -- a task he had devoted his life to.
posted by zarq at 12:51 PM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


The May 21 campaign was an astounding event if you think about its impact upon this world. There is no question that millions, if not billions of people heard for the first time the Bible's warning that Jesus Christ will return. Huge portions of this world that had never read or seen a Bible heard the message the Christ Jesus is coming to rapture His people and destroy this natural world.

Yes, we humbly acknowledge we were wrong about the timing; yet though we were wrong God is still using the May 21 warning in a very mighty way.

[...]

We were even so bold as to insist that the Bible guaranteed that Christ would return on May 21 and that the true believers would be raptured. Yet this incorrect and sinful statement allowed God to get the attention of a great many people who otherwise would not have paid attention. Even as God used sinful Balaam to accomplish His purposes, so He used our sin to accomplish His purpose of making the whole world acquainted with the Bible. However, even so, that does not excuse us. We tremble before God as we humbly ask Him for forgiveness for making that sinful statement. We are so thankful that God is so loving that He will forgive even this sin.


That's a non-apology apology if I've ever seen one. In particular, the idea that because of Harold Camping "millions, if not billions of people heard for the first time the Bible's warning that Jesus Christ will return" and "huge portions of this world that had never read or seen a Bible heard the message" is so ridiculous it hurts.
posted by vorfeed at 12:51 PM on March 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm just glad nobody killed their kids or pets in preparation.

Well, not exactly, but...
posted by obscurator at 12:51 PM on March 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm still gonna wear my 'End is near' t-shirt
posted by localhuman at 12:51 PM on March 12, 2012


I imagine him, like Steve Martin in The Jerk, sitting down and writing out ALL THOSE CHECKS to repay all those folks who gave him money.

I know, I know.
posted by THAT William Mize at 12:52 PM on March 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


God has humbled us through the events of May 21,...

It sure doesn't look that way.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:53 PM on March 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


Camping went on to say he like's Northwestern's odds of reaching the final four.
posted by drezdn at 12:55 PM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Note that he's still a crackpot doomsday prophet who hasn't altered any of his beliefs, except the belief that he knows what day the sky is going to fall. So this isn't, like, the triumph of reason, or anything.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 12:56 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


God has humbled us through the events of May 21,...

It sure doesn't look that way.


No, see, rather than speaking for God he is now merely being "used by God (in a mighty way)" to "accomplish His purposes". That's totally humble!
posted by vorfeed at 12:57 PM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ah, good. Now that we've all come to our senses, certainly his Family Radio network will be returning all the listener contributions they collected to put up those zillion "Judgment Day: The Bible Guarantees It" billboards last summer?

... right?


Nope. Money's all gone, although I heard he kept the agency discount.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:59 PM on March 12, 2012


His batting average is still better than Rob Enderle's.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:02 PM on March 12, 2012


gods and the fools who believe in them deserve each other
posted by iamabot at 1:11 PM on March 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


notseamus: "Cool, is he going to refund all the millions he collected from gullible fools?

I'm just glad nobody killed their kids or pets in preparation
"

I seem to recall that some woman *did*.

My first internal reaction to this was "fuck you, old man, " which I immediately tempered for being far too uncharitable. Then I recalled the lady who killed her kid(s?) and though, nah, just right.

Fuck you, old man.
posted by notsnot at 1:15 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


He's not the messiah, he's a very naughty boy!
posted by carter at 1:18 PM on March 12, 2012 [9 favorites]


Why is this nasty mentally infirm old man getting any more publicity for his devious conniving tricksterism?
posted by adamvasco at 1:19 PM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Even as God used sinful Balaam to accomplish His purposes, so He used our sin to accomplish His purpose of making the whole world acquainted with the Bible,"

Similarly, He uses my sin of gluttony to acquaint all my friends with the latest thing I've deep-fried. Truly, He works in mysterious and artery-hardening ways.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:20 PM on March 12, 2012 [14 favorites]


notsnot: tragic, I didn't know :/
posted by notseamus at 1:21 PM on March 12, 2012


It's supposed to be about love, not fear. Right?
posted by Benny Andajetz at 1:25 PM on March 12, 2012


It's supposed to be about love, not fear. Right?

Nope, fear all the way. The love is the candy coating to draw you in.
posted by nevercalm at 1:26 PM on March 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


Well his reverse psychology trick apparently is working its wiles in this thread.

Get ready for the solar storm coming!!!!!!!!!! The best survival food and supplies site on the web.
posted by nickyskye at 1:26 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


notseamus: "notsnot: tragic, I didn't know :"

Found it. She wasn't successful, but still.
posted by notsnot at 1:28 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Even as God used sinful Balaam to accomplish His purposes, so He used our sin to accomplish His purpose of making the whole world acquainted with the Bible"

Yes, Mr. Camping. Your failed predictions played a big role in informing the world about a 2,000-ish-year-old religious text that is sacred to more than a billion people, including many of the ones with the most guns and money. Nobody would ever have heard of the Christian Bible if you hadn't made a total fool of yourself in public.

Look a little harder for that silver lining, maybe?
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:29 PM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I predict Harold Camping changes his mind and starts making crazy doomsday predictions again.
posted by adamrice at 1:30 PM on March 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


If people actually had read the actual Bible they would have known the predictions were false.

No man knows the day or the hour.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:31 PM on March 12, 2012 [13 favorites]


It's Monday, 1:35 PM here.
posted by perhapses at 1:35 PM on March 12, 2012 [29 favorites]


If people actually had read the actual Bible they would have known the predictions were false.


So Harold Camping hasn't read the "actual bible"? People believe what they want to believe.
posted by dubold at 1:36 PM on March 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's Monday, 1:35 PM here.


...ergo, you are not a man.
posted by dubold at 1:36 PM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


St. Alia, lots of people who have read the Christian Bible over and over base their specific millennial predictions on their intense reading. I agree with your interpretation and not Mr. Camping's, but we don't really do the "My scriptural exegesis is self-evidently correct" thing here, do we?
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:39 PM on March 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


St. Alia of the Bunnies: "If people actually had read the actual Bible..."

Which translation?
posted by zarq at 1:45 PM on March 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


The actual bible will melt your face off if you look at it.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:48 PM on March 12, 2012 [22 favorites]


Matthew 24:36

I agree with St. Alia, it doesn't seem like there is much wiggle room to me.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:49 PM on March 12, 2012


If people actually had read the actual Bible...

The end will come within the lifetime of Jesus's listeners:
"Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom." -- Matthew16:28
"But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God." -- Luke 9:27
"Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation." -- Matthew 23:36
"Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled." -- Matthew 24:34
"Nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." -- Matthew 26:64
"Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power." -- Mark 9:1
"Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done." -- Mark 13:30
"And ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." -- Mark 14:62
"Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled." -- Luke 21:32
"Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?" -- John 21:22

The end will come within the lifetime of the the New Testament authors:
"Waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ ... that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ." -- 1 Corinthians 1:7-8
"But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none." -- 1 Corinthians 7:29
"That ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ. -- Philippians 1:10
"Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." -- 1 Thessalonians 4:17
"I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." -- 1 Thessalonians 5:23
"Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son...." -- Hebrews 1:2
"But now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." -- Hebrews 9:26
"Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you." -- 1 Peter 1:20
"But the end of all things is at hand." -- 1 Peter 4:7
"Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time." -- 1 John 2:18

The end will come 'soon':
"The Lord is at hand." -- Philippians 4:5
"For the coming of the Lord draweth nigh." -- James 5:8
"For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry." -- Hebrews 10:37
"The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass. -- Revelation 1:1
"The time is at hand." -- Revelation 1:3
"Behold, I come quickly." -- Revelation 3:11, 22:7, 22:12
"Surely I come quickly." -- Revelation 22:20
posted by gwint at 1:51 PM on March 12, 2012 [45 favorites]


Burhanistan: "The actual bible will melt your face off if you look at it."

It's true! I saw it in a movie once!

That scene gave me nightmares as a kid.
posted by zarq at 1:51 PM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, good, that nice Camping man found another way to get in some headlines. I was worried about him, going all these months without any national press.
posted by gurple at 1:53 PM on March 12, 2012


Gwint, nicely done, sir. :D
posted by zarq at 1:54 PM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


> "Behold, I come quickly."

*snicker*
posted by Burhanistan at 1:55 PM on March 12, 2012 [14 favorites]


It's supposed to be about love, not fear. Right?

Wrong, it's love the fear. Or maybe fear the love. Or maybe both.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:55 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Behold, I come quickly." -- Revelation 3:11, 22:7, 22:12

maxwelton 13-17 (inclusive)
posted by maxwelton at 1:55 PM on March 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


> It's supposed to be about love, not fear. Right?

Some would say that "fear" isn't so much primal fear of a wrathful entity, but fear of falling away from a state of grace.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:57 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


If people actually had read the actual Bible they would have known the predictions were false.

No man knows the day or the hour.


You realize that Matthew 24 was talking about the destruction of the Temple in AD 70, right? The book of Matthew was written after the destruction of the Temple and put prophecies of events which had already happened in the mouth of Jesus.
posted by empath at 1:58 PM on March 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


If there's a macrocosm/microcosm thing going on here, it could also be a meditation on death. IANATheologian, though.
posted by carter at 2:08 PM on March 12, 2012


You realize that Matthew 24 was talking about the destruction of the Temple in AD 70, right? The book of Matthew was written after the destruction of the Temple and put prophecies of events which had already happened in the mouth of Jesus.
posted by empath at 1:58 PM on March 12 [+] [!]


Always the best way to make accurate predictions.
posted by chavenet at 2:11 PM on March 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


There's a whole lot of hate and spite towards this old man in this thread. I understand how he is yet another holy roller fleecing people who don't know any better, and I get his apology is mostly damage control and spin to keep the money coming in, but damn. Even if he is a nasty, infirm old man, I wouldn't be in such a big hurry to outdo him in the nastiness department.

And I wouldn't call all the people who've sent him money 'gullible fools', either. Sure, they shouldn't have sent him the money, but I don't see how calling them idiots helps anything.

For what it's worth, I'm not a believer. I'm as stone-cold an atheist as they come. I do believe the good guys should try to act nicer than the bad guys, but I admit I'm probably naive in that respect.
posted by KHAAAN! at 2:12 PM on March 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


You realize that Matthew 24 was talking about the destruction of the Temple in AD 70, right? The book of Matthew was written after the destruction of the Temple and put prophecies of events which had already happened in the mouth of Jesus.

Huh? You realize that Matthew 24 can be about more than one thing? You realize that you haven't actually contradicted St. Alia? Who has merely pointed out that it is about one thing and that in doing so she doesn't say that it's not about the other thing as well.

This is not exactly a new insight... St Jerome's dates are 347 - 420.

Haydock's Commentary (1862):
Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the consummation of the world? [1] We must take good notice with S. Jerom, that three questions are here joined together. 1. Concerning the destruction of Jerusalem; 2. of the coming of Christ; 3. of the end of the world. Christ's answers and predictions in this chapter, are to be expounded with a reference to the three questions. This hath not been considered by those interpreters; who expound every thing here spoken by Christ of the destruction of Jerusalem; nor by others, who will have all understood of his coming to judgment, and of the end of the world. Wi. — It is probable the apostles themselves did not understand that they were asking about two distinct events. Being filled with the idea of a temporal kingdom, they thought that Christ's second coming would take place soon; and that Jerusalem, once destroyed, the Messias would begin his reign on earth.
....

[1] S. Jer. on this place, says, Interrogant tria: quo tempore Jerusalem destruenda sit: quo venturus Christus: quo consummatio sæculi futura sit.
posted by Jahaza at 2:17 PM on March 12, 2012


Yeah, I'm not going to get in a ridiculous argument angels on the heads of pins. The whole book is a pile of nonsense, and wherever it was accurate about the future, it was through post-diction.
posted by empath at 2:26 PM on March 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


He'll do it again. He can't help himself.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:26 PM on March 12, 2012


I agree with St. Alia

So does Harold Camping:

But we now realize that those people who were calling our attention to the Bible's statement that "of that day and hour knoweth no man" (Matthew 24:36 & Mark 13:32), were right in their understanding of those verses and Family Radio was wrong.
posted by Danila at 2:28 PM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I'm not going to get in a ridiculous argument angels on the heads of pins. The whole book is a pile of nonsense, and wherever it was accurate about the future, it was through post-diction.

Well perhaps next time you don't want to talk about something, you should not talk about it.
posted by Jahaza at 2:36 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sorry, that's overly snarky, but I'm frustrated by a drive by criticism of St. Alia's point when you're not actually interested in the topic. It seems like gratuitous contradiction for the sake of contradiction.
posted by Jahaza at 2:39 PM on March 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Family Radio was so much cooler before he sold out.

Seriously, though, he treated every caller on Open Forum with respect, patiently citing chapter and verse. I used to listen to him in the car and spent many a long mile fascinated by his crackpottery. I waited in vain for the mask to slip and the huckster to be revealed. IMHO, the man was and is a true believer.
posted by whuppy at 2:40 PM on March 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think that if was anyone besides St. Alia expressing the same sentiment then there wouldn't have been the same little pile-on, especially not the useless crack about her being a Republican. The stakes are low here. Chill the fuck out.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:42 PM on March 12, 2012 [12 favorites]


There is also the Catena Aurea ("Golden Chain"), a commentary of the early fathers (Jerome, Origen, Chrysostom, et al) compiled by St. Thomas Aquinas. Here's a bit on Mt 24:36-41 from St. Jerome:

Wherein He shews that Himself knows, but that it was not expedient for the Apostles to know, that being in uncertainty of the coming of their Judge, they should live every day as though they were to be judged that day.
posted by jquinby at 2:50 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Frankly, I'm just happy to see one of these bozos publicly admit they're wrong.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 2:51 PM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's a whole lot of hate and spite towards this old man in this thread. I understand how he is yet another holy roller fleecing people who don't know any better, and I get his apology is mostly damage control and spin to keep the money coming in, but damn. Even if he is a nasty, infirm old man, I wouldn't be in such a big hurry to outdo him in the nastiness department.

Nothing in this thread (or anything written or said about Harold Camping anywhere, quite frankly) "outdoes him in the nastiness department". People actually suffered over this prediction: that's real people, really suffering, in real life. People gave all their possessions away; people alienated their families. As pointed out above, a few people killed themselves over this, and others tried to kill their own children and/or pets.

Show me how anything written in this thread has done anything like that to anyone, and maybe I'll care about this supposed "big hurry" to "outdo" Camping. Until then, this looks like self-contradictory "it's bad to point out that things are bad!" meta-moralism to me.
posted by vorfeed at 2:56 PM on March 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Everybody knows that the world ended on December 14, 1995.
posted by briank at 3:05 PM on March 12, 2012


[Please maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site. Seriously. ]
posted by taz at 3:14 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


The money that gets sent to Harold Camping is money that does not get sent to the Republican Party. God Bless that old man.
posted by Renoroc at 3:16 PM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Harold Camping also talks using the royal "We" or nosism; a device solely to give himself moral authority in his fabulations.
As to the arguments above citing the bible I prefer to quote from Diderot (who at least we know lived): -
Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.
posted by adamvasco at 3:19 PM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


After numerous failed doomsday predictions, Family Radio founder Harold Camping announced this month that he has no plans to predict ever again the day of God's Judgment. He also issued an apology to listeners, admitting that he was wrong.

It looks like ...

*Puts on Sunglasses*

He didn't see it coming.

YEAAAHHHHH!!!
posted by vidur at 3:30 PM on March 12, 2012


valkyryn went into this in detail some time ago for this FPP on eschatology among the western Christian denominations. It's a great roundup, though for folks who consider all Christians to be deluded kooks, it's probably a bit of inside baseball. N.B. - as a Catholic, I have no particular dog in this fight.
posted by jquinby at 3:33 PM on March 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


Frankly, I'm just happy to see one of these bozos publicly admit they're wrong.


Meh. This is a Limbaughpology - "Sorry about getting the date wrong, but look how everyone is thinking about the end of the world because of me. How great is that/am I?"
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:42 PM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


A generation does not pass until all of its members have passed, and "there are some here ..." clearly indicates that some of "this generation" have not yet passed, nor will they until Jesus returns. These Jews wander the world, not-quite-immortal. There are always multiple ways to interpret prophecy, and bringing balance to the Force does not necessarily mean what you want it to.

More seriously, by loudmouthing a prediction based on it and being so thumpingly wrong, Camping has done more to bring the Bible, and eschatological Christianity, into disrepute than he has to promote it.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:54 PM on March 12, 2012


f people actually had read the actual Bible they would have known the predictions were false.

No man knows the day or the hour.
Do you genuinely believe that Camping was unaware of this verse? He was.

In fact, he had other verses that, in his view, contradicted the surface-level interpretation of it. Or do you think that they are not in the "actual Bible"?
posted by Flunkie at 4:01 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Meh. This is a Limbaughpology - "Sorry about getting the date wrong, but look how everyone is thinking about the end of the world because of me. How great is that/am I?"

It's not really an apology at all so not really a false apology. It's literally a confession of sin and a retraction of his previous views. I find it much more interesting than an apology.

The idea that God brings good out of evil is not a surprising place for him to go in reflecting on the experience. What did you expect him to do? Fire the ministry's entire staff and go off the air? While we got a lot of sidewalk evangelists doing the whole, "The End is Near" thing here in New York City, from listening to their radio station, it never seems to have been a big part of their on air programming (i.e. I don't think I ever heard it mentioned in a number of hours of listening in the run up to and in the wake of the predicted date.)

Makes me wonder what's really going on inside the organization.
posted by Jahaza at 4:22 PM on March 12, 2012


What did you expect him to do? Fire the ministry's entire staff and go off the air?

I hardly think one should have to do anything to demonstrate repentance. Simply saying I repent is enough, surely? Then you get to carry on with whatever you just repented of, right?

So, no. Wasn't expecting that.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:25 PM on March 12, 2012


I hardly think one should have to do anything to demonstrate repentance. Simply saying I repent is enough, surely? Then you get to carry on with whatever you just repented of, right?

Except that he's not carrying on with the thing he repented of (predicting the date and time of the end of the world).
posted by Jahaza at 4:32 PM on March 12, 2012


And thus, by your rules, he is now in the clear. That's fine - that's the offence you think is relevant, and the level of contrition you are happy with. As far as your court is concerned, he and his ministry are now in the clear. No problem.

Conversely, however, he is continuing to run a radio ministry that has caused unnecessary disruption and unhappiness as a result of its hubris in deciding that it has been entrusted by God with the knowledge of the date and time of the end of the world*. Assuming that Camping and his ministry manage to keep their eschatological precognitions in their pants from now on - which is an open question - this doesn't rule out any number of other pieces of harmful craziness interspersed with appeals for donations.

So, no. I wouldn't expect him to shut down the station - the station will over time sell off its profitable stations and probably die at the hand of the rather more militant deities of the market. Nor would I expect him to express actual regret at the consequences of his actions for those of his flock who lack his resources. Nor would I expect him or his ministry to return the donations solicited on the strength of their adumbration of the impending apocalypse. I would not expect any of those things to happen.

* The time is quite important. The date you can get by regular Bible Code crazy math. But 6pm local time? That has to have been obtained directly from God. That's an implicit claim of direct communication from God - which makes it a credible candidate for false prophecy, as defined in Peter's second epistle.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:05 PM on March 12, 2012


1. I do not believe as he does, and certainly not as he did. But I do think he believes.

2. If you think he believes, it seems very hard to blame him for sharing his beliefs with this followers, or to absolve them from the wrong of believing with him while condemning him for the beliefs. That is, it's hard to excuse those harming themselves while blaming him. I suppose his actions were more consequential in terms of their impact on others, but I wasn't aware it went beyond that in terms of his culpability.

3. It's really not a bad apology. If you assume that he is a believer, calling himself a sinner and citing verse against himself, and pledging to get out of the prediction business, is not too shabby.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 5:06 PM on March 12, 2012


It's like people arguing over what the badger entrails predicted. The only difference between this kook and your average X-tian church, is that this particular nut and/or charlatan made the mistake of fixing an exact date, so he can be proven wrong. Other churches are far too smart to do that - why spoil a good gig/scam by making verifiable statements? No percentage in that. You can wheedle the cash out of the gullible without setting any dates. The more vague the better. In this way, Camping is almost a scientist among them - at least he's willing to put the gobbledygook to a test. He's got more honor - or less sense - than the rest of them.
posted by VikingSword at 5:09 PM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


 The only difference between this kook and your average X-tian church, is that this particular nut and/or charlatan made the mistake of fixing an exact date

This is, quite frankly, asinine. The whole idea about the world ending at any moment is that one should live each moment awake, as it might be their last. Lumping all Christians into the same basket as Camping betrays a lack of insight.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:12 PM on March 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


And thus, by your rules, he is now in the clear.

Where did I say that?

That's fine - that's the offence you think is relevant, and the level of contrition you are happy with. As far as your court is concerned, he and his ministry are now in the clear. No problem.

As far as I'm concerned, his ministry spreads false doctrine (did before his predicting, did during his predicting, and does after he gets out of the predicting biz) and it's not only not "in the clear" but is actively harmful.

But there's actually interesting stuff to be seen here about how religious group deals with error and repentance... and how this doctrinal retraction moves them towards the mainstream of Christian thinking for the past 2000 years or so. But instead you go off on it being a "limbaughpology"... and you're not the only one, which is sad.

VikingSword: Camping is almost a scientist among them - at least he's willing to put the gobbledygook to a test. He's got more honor - or less sense - than the rest of them.

It's like you didn't even read the letter, which is about how he believes he sinned by predicting an actual date.
posted by Jahaza at 5:15 PM on March 12, 2012


Huge portions of this world that had never read or seen a Bible heard the message the Christ Jesus is coming to rapture His people and destroy this natural world.

Yes, we humbly acknowledge we were wrong about the timing; yet though we were wrong God is still using the May 21 warning in a very mighty way. In the months following May 21 the Bible has, in some ways, come out from under the shadows and is now being discussed by all kinds of people who never before paid any attention to the Bible. We learn about this, for example, by the recent National Geographic articles concerning the King James Bible and the Apostles. Reading about and even discussing about the Bible can never be a bad thing, even if the Bible's authenticity is questioned or ridiculed. The world's attention has been called to the Bible.


Behold The Heart that so trolled men!
posted by KingEdRa at 5:27 PM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Where did I say that?

Well, perhaps I took that from:

Except that he's not carrying on with the thing he repented of (predicting the date and time of the end of the world).

The difference, then, is that we appear to agree that, actually, there is a lot that Family Radio does that is bad, far beyond what was apologised for. Much - and, you know, it appears I'm going to have to spell this one out - like Rush Limbaugh, who does many things outside the very specific and limited thing he has sort of apologized for.

However, you believe that it is ridiculous to suggest that they might actually look at any of those things and actually take action in response to them, or indeed respond to having acted as a false prophet by doing anything beyond showily prostrating themselves before God:

What did you expect him to do? Fire the ministry's entire staff and go off the air?

So, yes. That's where you said that.

However, I've now placed your name, and I don't think we're going to make much progress here. If you think I'm wrong, I think you'll probably just have to forgive me.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:29 PM on March 12, 2012


The whole idea about the world ending at any moment is that one should live each moment awake, as it might be their last.

And it suffers from the same problem. "The world can end at any moment" is an empty claim unless grounds are provided. I may as well say "you should live each moment awake, as there is an invisible tiger on your back at all times and he might bite you if 'sin'". Without getting too much into epistemology or logic, such a concept (the "tiger" in that sentence, or "the world can end at any moment") is devoid of content unless you affix some falsifiable characteristic to that statement - a date for the end of the world, or something that allows us to detect the presence/absence of the tiger on the back. That's the difference. Camping fixed a date. Oops.

he believes he sinned by predicting an actual date

He was caught out, and wisely retreated into the "unverifiable claim" territory. Like the rest of 'em. Much safer that way.
posted by VikingSword at 5:32 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the Bible mythos that Camping and his fellow travelers subscribe to is a particularly intricate, interesting and evolving thing. Surely we can talk about this seriously and respectfully even if we don't believe in it ourselves.

One interesting (if frightening) aspect of it, to me, is that we have a scientific understanding of several catastrophic possibilities which could "end the world" -- at least civilization. And yet a book from which so many draw moral guidance is interpreted and preached so to give complacent comfort, a kind of "learned helplessness," to so many who could be doing things about them. This sort of thing deserves to be strongly challenged.

Predicting the end of the world as he did has all the attributes of a confidence game. I'm glad he's confessed to wrong-doing, but what will his atonement and repentance look like?
posted by wobh at 5:34 PM on March 12, 2012


If you think he believes, it seems very hard to blame him for sharing his beliefs with this followers, or to absolve them from the wrong of believing with him while condemning him for the beliefs. That is, it's hard to excuse those harming themselves while blaming him. I suppose his actions were more consequential in terms of their impact on others, but I wasn't aware it went beyond that in terms of his culpability.

Camping did not just "share" a belief -- he invented this particular belief. That would seem to make him much more responsible for it than people who simply heard it and agreed with it, especially since he seems to have profited from it. I agree that the people who hurt themselves over it are not blameless, but Camping's culpability goes way beyond theirs.

He's basically the person at the very top of a pyramid scheme, and that makes you more culpable than being at the bottom whether you believe in the scheme or not. In fact, someone in such a position would be crazy not to believe, since they're the one getting all the attention and money... and lo and behold, Camping uses the attention to justify himself! Hurrah for "belief", I guess.
posted by vorfeed at 5:47 PM on March 12, 2012


It's like you didn't even read the letter, which is about how he believes he sinned by predicting an actual date.

Well, no shit. His other choice was to become an atheist.
posted by empath at 5:51 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


It seems like gratuitous contradiction for the sake of contradiction.

You must be new here.
posted by lohmannn at 6:07 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sounds like a trick to me. I wouldn't trust him.
posted by Skygazer at 7:14 PM on March 12, 2012


> Without getting too much into epistemology or logic, such a concept (the "tiger" in that sentence, or "the world can end at any moment") is devoid of content unless you affix some falsifiable characteristic to that statement

Did you just learn about falsifiability? Because you're bandying it about like a sophomore. Anyway, it's silly to say that about a philosophy that aims to instruct people to live each moment as if it were their last.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:56 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


N.B. - as a Catholic, I have no particular dog in this fight.

But you kind of do. The Catholic Church, like most of the other confessional traditions, is roughly amillennialist. Their amillennialism is a bit less developed than Protestant eschatology tends to be, largely because it hasn't occurred to most Catholics that there's anything else to be. That have that in common with Lutheranism and Orthodoxy, at the very least, and Anglicanism to a lesser extent.

Which is no bad thing. It gives the Church the ability to deal with wackos like Camping with a straight on "You cut that shit out. We'll have none of that," approach rather than trying to actually engage his batshittery, which is what many Protestants feel compelled to attempt.
posted by valkyryn at 9:13 PM on March 12, 2012


What did you expect him to do? Fire the ministry's entire staff and go off the air?

Considering a woman tried to kill herself and her children over this, as mentioned above by notsnot, that'd be a good start towards showing that Camping is, in fact, Really Very Sorry. Or that he realized things like this are not something you fuck around with.

But I doubt he's reached any of those conclusions. The show will go on.
posted by cmyk at 9:33 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Did you just learn about falsifiability? Because you're bandying it about like a sophomore. Anyway, it's silly to say that about a philosophy that aims to instruct people to live each moment as if it were their last.

If 23 years ago qualifies as "just", then yes. And yes, I had to bandy it about when instructing sophomores, but I did get my doctorate out of it. You were asking? Instead of making snide remarks about my qualifications, perhaps you could, you know, focus on arguments, in order to, as a mod just reminded us "Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site."

What the aim of any given statement is, is a separate issue from whether the statement is empirically verifiable. When it's not, there is nothing to argue over, or as I said, it's as good as examining badger entrails for predictions about the future. When it is, as Camping incautiously posited, it was put to the test - and in this case, failed. Meaning and truth values in statements may be "silly" to some, but for others are the only way to apprehend the world.
posted by VikingSword at 9:34 PM on March 12, 2012


"It's not the language I would have used..."
posted by a humble nudibranch at 11:59 PM on March 12, 2012


Like, Jesus made these awesome tilapia pita pockets for everybody.

Everybody.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:36 AM on March 13, 2012


But you kind of do. The Catholic Church, like most of the other confessional traditions, is roughly amillennialist.

True.

Which is no bad thing. It gives the Church the ability to deal with wackos like Camping with a straight on "You cut that shit out. We'll have none of that," approach rather than trying to actually engage his batshittery, which is what many Protestants feel compelled to attempt.

Catholics have come up with their fair share of prophecies and whatnot (Fatima comes to mind though there are almost certainly others). In the main, these have been classified as private revelations and thus considered non-binding on believers when they're not outright kicked the curb. This is what the Magisterium is for.
posted by jquinby at 6:14 AM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is what the Magisterium is for.

Pretty much.
posted by valkyryn at 6:24 AM on March 13, 2012


empath: " Well, no shit. His other choice was to become an atheist."

No, his other, most obvious choice (and it wasn't his only one,) was to do what he did before, in 1994 and 1998: say, "I don't understand what happened, let me go back and check my figures again" and then return with another, 'corrected' prediction. What he did here was end the cycle by admitting his fallibility. At least on one level. He did not have to do that.
posted by zarq at 7:42 AM on March 13, 2012


Another element of this story, of course, is that Harold Camping suffered a stroke last June, since when his own programming has been taken off the air. One could see this undertaking to stop predicting the date of the end of the world as the consequence of a reordering of responsibilities within the organization. Or a desire to clear one's penitential slate before encountering a more personal but no more avoidable date with the eschaton.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:13 AM on March 13, 2012


"What he did here was end the cycle by admitting his fallibility."

For now.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:54 AM on March 13, 2012


There's a proselyte who hangs out on the UC Berkeley campus who dutifully counted down the number of days till doomsday twice and then disappeared for a while. He's been back lately, sans chalkboard with the countdown.

"Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom." -- Matthew16:28

Still true -- some of the people in that crowd remain part of a shadowy secret society of immortals manipulating the world to their own ends.
posted by Zed at 9:54 AM on March 13, 2012


What did you expect him to do? Fire the ministry's entire staff and go off the air?

No? Drat! I got all excited thinking about it.

The guy's an asshat.
posted by BlueHorse at 3:35 PM on March 13, 2012


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