The Freedom From Religion Foundation, in response to Harold Camping’s doomsday predictions, are starting a campaign of their own asking the public to reject not only Camping’s predictions, but all “unsubstantiated religious claims.”
Called the “Fool Me Once” campaign, the FFRF states that their message is this: “Instead of worrying about the unknown and unprovable, wasting time, money and energy in speculating over the nonexistent: ‘Make this world better.’”
Placing five different messages over billboards across Oakland where Camping’s Family Radio show is located, the organization hopes to counter the “fraud and deceit” that many families and individuals have witnessed due to the 90-year-old’s end times predictions.
Messages include: “Every day is Judgment Day. Use yours. Use reason;” “Still here. Let’s make this world better;” “In reason we trust;” “Between 2005 and 2009, Family Radio raised $80 million. Sometimes it pays to be wrong.”
“There are media reports of dozens of Camping’s followers who liquidated their own assets to contribute tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars to Camping’s organization,” a letter written by the FFRF to the California Attorney General is asking for a fraud probe into the rapture campaign.
The letter detailed reports that some of Camping’s followers committed suicide, quit their jobs, and spent their life savings to help the campaign.
Dan Barker, the co-director of FFRF, also noted in the letter that the Bible’s teachings were hurting people as well, just like Camping’s own predictions.
“Every generation of Christians has flattered itself that it’s living in the end times, from Paul to the Millerites to Jehovah’s Witnesses to Family Radio, laughing all the way to the bank,” Barker, author of Losing Faith in Faith and Godless shared.
“Think of the Christian children in every generation who have been needlessly terrorized with these irresponsible predictions. I was taught the world was ending at any moment, and that I wouldn’t even be able to go to college, get married, have children.”
“Harold Camping may be considered by many Christians to be a fringe element. What they conveniently overlook is that the Bible itself is the source of these wacky and harmful beliefs,” he added.
The FFRF was not alone in believing that Camping and Christianity itself were harmful beliefs.
American Atheists President David Silverman previously argued on CNN’s Belief Blog that there was no difference between Camping and other preachers.
“Will we, as a society, demand that people use their intellect and pay attention to their preachers, priests, rabbis or mullahs and see them as the scammers they really are?” Silverman penned.
He also suggested that Camping used “fear-based obedience” to generate believers, just like Christianity.
“But this is demonstrably false,” Carson Weitnauer, director at Telos Ministries, argued on Reasons for God. “Though of course there are some preachers who look to manipulate people on the basis of fear-based obedience, the core of Christian doctrine is love.”
“Contrary to Silverman, the Bible teaches that ‘perfect love casts out fear.’ The Bible does not teach us to live in fear of God, but to experience God’s love and become people of love.”
Weitnauer also explained that Camping was not a “fringe element” of Christianity but a man in complete disagreement with mainstream Christianity.
“Camping himself is on record as believing that all churches have been taken over by Satan,” the blogger wrote. “Many prominent Christian leaders have denounced Camping as a false prophet and compassionately reached out to those deceived by him.”
“So both Harold Camping and the leaders of mainstream churches agree: Camping is not a representative of mainstream Christianity.”
Just as the Freedom From Religion Foundation was concerned that people were being deceived and cheated, Christians themselves were distraught as well.
Erik Thoennes, associate professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Biola University, previously told The Christian Post that if Camping belonged to a church, he could seek wisdom from the community of believers.
But the Family Radio broadcaster unfortunately believed that the church age was over.
He commented that though it was entirely appropriate for the public, including Christians to respond to and confront Camping’s unbiblical teachings, they should do so with humility.
He also suggested that Christians should avoid mocking the church’s teachings on the final Judgment and the Second Coming.
“Harold Camping is only wrong of the date setting,” Thoennes shared. “He’s not wrong about the magnitude and seriousness of this."