All of this talk about the end of the world coming on May 21, 2011 is so silly. When everybody knows that's going to happen on December 21, 2012. Right?
The 2012 date, some say, was predicted by the Mayans. The more contemporary prediction is being made on radio and on billboards all around the country by Harold Camping, the 89-year old president of the Family Radio Network, based in Oakland. (You can listen to the station here.)
Camping and his prediction have been all over the news, more so as we hurtle headlong toward the fateful day. Camping doesn't foresee the end of the world, per se; he believes what we're actually going to experience is The Rapture, a central event in Christian eschatology supposedly heralding the return of Jesus Christ.
This belief generally holds that those who have been "saved" will be swept up to Heaven, as unbelievers are left on earth to suffer a cataclysmic period known as the Tribulation. The wildly popular Left Behind book series deals with these events, and many Christian broadcasters reference them constantly, though very few, if any, have ventured exact dates. (Camping once before went out on a limb, predicting the end would come Sept. 4, 1994. That prognostication, as one newspaper put it, was "erroneous.")
Family Radio, apparently, has been profiting from Camping's warning. From the Contra Costa Times:
Judgment Day is fabulous for business. Just ask Family Radio, the evangelical nonprofit that has plastered billboards and driven vans across the Bay Area and the world proclaiming the end of the world will be Saturday. The Oakland-based nonprofit has raised more than $100 million over the past seven years, according to tax returns. It owns 66 radio stations across the globe and was worth more than $72 million in 2009. As The End nears, donations have spiked, a board member says, enabling Family Radio to spend millions of dollars on more than 5,000 billboards.
Meanwhile, reports abound of people who have been seriously preparing for the End, giving away their worldly possessions, taking to the road to spread the word.