(Photo: REUTERS / Jean Philippe Arles)
In the potpourri of doomsday predictions (Harold Camping’s misfire included), most do not include a way out or a safe haven. Enter a small town in France and the New Age cults prophecy for Armageddon on December 21, 2012.
Rumors swirling on the Internet in the last several months point to Bugarach – a town on a hilltop in the southwest of France – as the only place to survive the end of the world as predicted by some using the Mayan calendar.
The Mayan calendar reaches 5,000 years in 530 days, 12 hours, 41 minutes, and 21 seconds, according to a countdown clock found at MayanCalendar2012.org (at the time of this writing).
While it is not certain how many people put their homes up for sale, left their jobs or gave away their life savings as the result of Camping’s doomsday prophecy, some people are moving to Bugarach right now, according to news reports.
The Bible states in Matthew 24:36 regarding end times: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” However, the 2012 prediction that includes the belief that Bugarach is in some sort of safe zone has left some French people, including the country’s government, feeling uneasy.
A French government agency, Miviludes, that keeps track of cults and questionable spiritual activities said that there is a risk of mass suicides by believers of the "imminent Armageddon," according to a Reuters story.
Along with the French government, Bugarach locals are concerned about the influx of end-of-world refugees that have already set stake in the area, pushing up real estate values, and opening the door to financial scams and manipulation.
Bugarach has a population of only about 200 people, but has been on the mystical radar for quite some time because of its upside-down mountain outcrop displayed by an older layer of rocks on top of a newer layer. Rumors, some homegrown, others found on the Internet, include that the mountain is surrounded by a magnetic force field, that it is the site of a hidden alien base, or that it has an underground entry to another world.
“I think we need to be careful. We shouldn't get paranoid, but when you see what happened at Waco in the United States, we know this kind of thinking can influence vulnerable people," Miviludes president Georges Fenech told Reuters.
Erik Thoennes, associate professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Biola University, recently told The Christian Post that end-of-world predictions, such as Camping’s prophecy, are an opportunity for Christians to point out their unbiblical nature in a humble way.
Christians should avoid joining the mocking bandwagon that can contribute to making the Biblical teachings about the final judgment and the Second Coming into a laughable idea, Thoennes said.