May 23rd, 2011
With no sign his forecast of Judgment Day arriving on Saturday has come true, the 89-year-old California evangelical broadcaster and former civil engineer behind the pronouncement seemed to have gone silent.
Family Radio, the Christian stations network headed by Harold Camping which had spread his message of an approaching doomsday, was on Saturday playing recorded church music and devotional messages unrelated to the apocalypse.
Camping previously made a failed prediction Jesus Christ would return to Earth in 1994.
In his latest pronouncement, he had said doomsday would begin in Asia, but with midnight local time come and gone in Tokyo and Beijing and those cities already in the early hours of May 22, there was no sign of the apocalypse.
The Oakland, California, headquarters of the network of 66 U.S. stations, which has international affiliates and had posted billboards around the country warning of a May 21 Judgment Day, were shuttered with a sign in the door that read “This Office is Closed. Sorry we missed you!”
The headquarters, which appears to be normally closed on Saturday, was also shuttered on Friday.
Camping, whose deep sonorous voice is frequently heard on his radio network expounding the Bible, could not be reached immediately for comment on Saturday.
On Friday, the shades were drawn and no one answered the door at his house in Alameda, California.
Atheists in different parts of the country were planning celebrations and get-togethers to mark the failure of Camping’s May 21 prediction to come true.
In Oakland, the same city where Camping’s network is based, over 200 people gathered at an atheist convention where speakers jokingly took note of the Judgment Day pronouncement.
In New York, at least one of Camping’s followers continued to hold out hope that Judgment Day would come.
Retired Metropolitan Transportation Authority worker Robert Fitzpatrick, 60, said he spent more than $140,000 of his savings on subway posters and bus shelter advertisements warning of the May 21 Judgment Day.
“God’s people are commanded to sound the warning, to sound the trumpet so to speak so people know,” Fitzpatrick said of his advertising blitz.
Fitzpatrick said Camping led him to believe Judgment Day would be May 21, but added that he disagreed with the broadcaster’s prediction it would begin in Asia.
In Fitzpatrick’s view, from his reading of the Bible, Judgment Day would begin around 6 p.m. Eastern Time. He said on Saturday that he still had no doubts Judgment Day would come this day.
“I wouldn’t even entertain that question because there’s too much proof from the Bible,” he said.
(Additional reporting by Erik Tavkar: Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Jerry Norton)