Judgment Day is nearly upon us.
That’s according to Alameda resident Harold Camping. The 89-year-old Family Radio evangelist has garnered international attention with his claims that May 21 marks the beginning of the end.
This Saturday, says Camping, Jesus will return to Earth and save his believers. The unrepentant sinners among us will be the victims of a massive earthquake that will start in New Zealand and spread across the world until it reaches the United States about 6 p.m. Unlucky survivors will perish six months later on October 21, when God destroys the Earth with fire.
“It’s a horrible judgment that’s coming,” said Santos Rolon, a spokesperson for the evangelical group. “The Scriptures describe the events, and they are horrible events.”
Camping claims the May 21 date is exactly 7,000 years since the animals stepped onto Noah’s Ark. He arrived at this date through intricate calculations based on the Bible.
His supporters are certain the calculations are correct.
“The Bible is the source,” said Rolon. “Harold Camping fine-tunes the Bible and he allows God to speak through him using the Scriptures.”
Critics point out that this isn’t the first time Camping predicted that Armageddon is nigh. In the '90s, he wrote a book called 1994?, in which he claimed the world could end that year.
“The title had a question mark,” said Alameda resident Guy von Harringa, an employee at Family Radio. “You can’t be held accountable for suggesting something might happen.”
Camping moved to Alameda from Colorado as a child. After attending the University of California at Berkeley, he dabbled in construction before opening Family Radio in 1959.
The organization, with headquarters on Hegenberger Road, operates 66 radio stations around the world.
Camping has led a Sunday service for many years at the Veterans Memorial Building on Central Avenue. This past Sunday was his last service, von Harringa said.
There’s not much you can do to prepare for Saturday, said spokesperson Rolon.
“We have to live our days accordingly,” said Rolon. “I don’t think when it comes to this project, God’s project, we can prepare ourselves. The only thing we can do is plead to him for his mercy.”
If you’re living in the United States, you’re at a disadvantage. The majority of visitors to the Family Radio website are from developing countries. They stand the best chance for salvation, said von Harringa.
“Most of the people from the U.S. are not open,” he said. “We’ve become a very corrupt nation.”
Most of Camping’s supporters have chosen to spend their last days with their families. Von Harringa said he would leave Alameda on Tuesday night for good.
“Tonight will be my last night here,” said Harringa. “I fly out to Ohio tomorrow, where I'm from. And the Lord willing, I have unspeakable travel plans this Saturday.”