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Harold Egbert Camping (1921 – 2013) was a former civil engineer turned false prophet, radio evangelist and crackpot who famously predicted that the return of Jesus would be September 6, 1994. When Jesus didn't return, he modified his "prophecy" to claim that September 6 was the day that God removed his Holy Spirit from the earth and that nobody could be saved after this date and that God was calling all those already saved to exit the organized churches. He then changed his predicted date for Jesus to return to May 21, 2011, and October 21, 2011 after that prediction failed.
May 21st 2011
After the Rapture again failed to happen, Camping disappeared for a couple of days, only to resurface and claim that 21 May had been a "spiritual apocalypse." Damage was done, though. One woman attempted to kill her own children in preparation for the rapture and countless followers were fleeced of their money, including Robert Fitzpatrick who had spent $140,000 of his life savings publicizing Camping's bullshit. Camping then claimed that newer calculations put the end of the world on 21 October 2011, saying that May 21 was a day when God’s judgment came on the world "spiritually". But Family Radio still stuck to the assertion that the world would literally come to a fiery end on Oct. 21, 2011. It didn't.
For his miserable failure to try and predict the future, he shared the 2011 Ig Nobel Prize for Mathematics with some other prophetic losers: Dorothy Martin, Pat Robertson, Elizabeth Clare Prophet, Lee Jang Rim, and Credonia Mwerinde.
Camping the fraudster
One of the things Camping openly stated with his message of rapture on May 21st was that Christians would no longer need their money. He asked for donations for the ministry, and help spreading the word of the impending rapture. With no refunds after he was proven wrong, people were led to believe it was just a large scam (one of the largest religious scams in history) to get followers' money.
This seems to be backed up by reports from his own ministry that it retained all of its cash and assets at normal levels before the rapture, and workers still planned business as usual the next week.
Harold Camping was originally a Calvinist and founder of the Family Radio network which was heard on the shortwave radio bands over WYFR, and on several AM and FM radio stations mostly located in California. Ever since he fell off the deep end trying to predict the date of Jesus' return, nobody is quite sure what he is anymore, especially since his "revised" date, May 21, 2011, turned out to be 1994 all over again.
In 1942, Camping received a Bachelor's of Science degree in civil engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. He has used his knowledge of engineering mathematics to develop a mathematical system that he claims can interpret biblical prophecies. Camping's engineering background also allows certain commentators to credit him as a "former civil engineer" while ignoring the fact that he was little more than a D-list Pat Robertson. Camping denied the assurance of salvation doctrine common to mainstream Protestant churches and Roman Catholicism.
Camping has received his share of criticism from orthodox Christians. In An Open Letter to Harold Camping, members of the Grace Valley Christian Center of Davis, California wrote, "We concur with others that his teaching can be compared to cow dung. But cow dung does not destroy anything. It is a fertilizer causing plants to grow. The teaching of Harold Camping is worse than cow dung: it is poison that kills people and sends them to hell."
Harold Camping escaped the death sentence commanded in the Old Testament for prophets whose predictions fail (see Deuteronomy 18:20-22). The United States is not a theocracy so God had to do it himself.
In June 2011, Camping suffered a stroke and ended up with slurred speech. This made it harder for him to spread more bullshit, although at least the cash he raked in from the rapture should have bought him some pretty good medical treatment. Or was it punishment from God? Camping had since the latest October 2011 failure retired from radio broadcasting; he publicly recanted his views on doomsday and declared that he would not make any more
money prophecies. (He stayed true to his word.) Camping did not believe in the 2012 apocalypse or the Mayan Calendar,  but then Camping wasn't much of an expert at telling when the world will end; it's pure stopped clock.
Two years after the doomsday fiasco, Family Radio announced that Camping had died in his home at the age of 92, mostly due to complications from the stroke. The end had finally come (for him at least).
His radio stations
Family Radio is a radio network founded by Harold Camping in 1959. Though considerably diminished since Camping's multiple failed apocalypse predictions, the network claims to run over 140 radio stations. Family Radio airs a lot of old time religious hymns and the occasional creationist propaganda show. Despite Camping's death, his droning Bible study programs still regularly air.
In 1973, Camping bought the equipment from closed shortwave station WNYW ("Radio New York Worldwide"), and set up station WYFR ("We're Your Family Radio") in Okeechobee, Florida. WYFR closed on June 30, 2013, and in December of that same year, re-opened under new ownership as WRMI ("Radio Miami International"). The new station's programming includes The Overcomer Ministry, hosted by another self-proclaimed "End-Times Prophet of God", Ralph Gorden "Brother" Stair.
- Lest we forget — dprjones summarises many of Camping's speeches and interviews over the course of the May 21st non-event, and the people who suffered because of it.
- A claim widely advertised on buses in Chicago, no less. See http://connectere.wordpress.com/2011/05/20/in-case-im-not-here-tomorrow/
- California mother, Lyn Benedetto, tries to kill kids before the tribulation, deputies say (dead link)
- Judgement Day Still Coming
- Winners of the Ig® Nobel Prize
- How Harold Camping pulled off the Biggest money scam in Christian History
- Doomsday church: Still open for business
- See the Wikipedia article on Harold Camping.
- Berton, Justin. "Biblical scholar's date for rapture: May 21, 2011", San Francisco Chronicle (SFGate.com website), 1 January 2011.
- Thier, Dave. "May 21 Is Judgment Day? Harold Camping's Latest Doomsday Prediction", AOLNews.com, 3 January 2011.
- Archive copy at the Wayback Machine
- Rapture predictor Camping reportedly suffers stroke
- Was stroke punishment? (probably not)
- 'Doomsday' minister quiet on 2012 forecast
- Controversial preacher Harold Camping dies at 92
- Family Radio, About us.
- The network was forced to sell off WYFR and most of its major market FM stations after Camping's last failed prediction. See this article on the sale of WKDN Philadelphia and WFME New York.
- Family Radio station finder. "Family Radio broadcasts over 56 stations and 86 translators throughout the US."