Harold Camping, the founder of a Bible-focused California radio station, Family Radio, famously foretold that the end of the world would begin on May 21. Before the date, Camping's followers launched an advertising campaign informing the public about the forthcoming Rapture. The campaign unfolded on an unprecedented scale – using billboards, bus and subway posters, flyers and other media – and cost millions of dollars.
After May 21, Camping seemed baffled for a while that the Rapture did not take place. However, he assumed that he simply made a mistake in calculations, and that the Rapture must finally happen on Oct. 21, which is this Friday.
The radio broadcaster has been condemned by all mainstream Christian leaders.
- Harold Egbert Camping was born in 1921 in Boulder, Colo.
- At an early age, he moved to California where his interest in math and science developed, later taking him to University of California Berkeley during World War II, where he received a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering.
- Shortly after the end of World War II, he began his own construction business..
- In 1943, he married his wife Shirley with whom he had seven children. During their early years they were congregants at First Christian Reformed Church of Alameda where he shined as the most popular Bible studies teacher.
- From 1954, he became the owner of Camping Construction Company, and by 1958 he and two others formed the non-profit ministry of Family Stations, Inc. in San Francisco.
- Family Radio was the ministry’s Christian educational network and it expanded over the decades as it broadcast teachings, Bible readings as well as Christian music such as southern gospel music across the country. Some stations chose to play contemporary Christian music.
- In his 40s, he began hosting his own Open Forum program during the weekends, which still continues to be broadcast on more than 140 stations in the U.S.
- In 1973, he sold his business and became a full-time volunteer employer of Family Radio where he served as the president and general manager of the stations.
- In 1970, Camping published the Biblical Calendar History, where he proclaimed that the creations of the world happened in 11,013 BC and Noah’s flood, 4990 BC.
- While 1988 became a popular doomsday year due to a book written by Edgar Whisenant, 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Could be in 1988, Camping began to proclaim the world’s impending end during his radio program as well in his Bible class.
- Camping didn’t agree with Whisenant’s end of the word date but he didn't yet provide his own prediction.
- Due to his persistence on the end of the world, his church elders told him to cease all prophesying about the apocalypse. He, his family and 110 members decided to leave the church, according to The Huffington Post.
- In 1992, he published his book 1994? where he predicted that the world would end, though he wasn’t certain about the year.
- In 1994, his followers gathered inside Alameda’s Veterans’ Memorial Building to wait for the return of Christ. People dressed themselves in their Sunday best and held their Bibles open faced towards heaven.
- Camping said that was just a “preliminary study,” hence the question mark in the title of the book, and he spent the next decade completing that study.
- In 2002, he announced the end of the church age and claimed that God was no longer blessing and using local churches because of their apostasy and that believers should quit the church.
- Three years later, he published Time Has an End where he officially began proclaiming that he had recalculated the rapture date to be May 21, 2011.
- According to that prediction, around 200 million people would be raptured on May 21, and the rest will suffer for five months until Oct. 21, making it the definitive date for complete world obliteration.
- Currently, among his family members, only his wife of 68 years believes him, while none of his six living children, 28 grandchildren and 38 great grandchildren- believe he is credible.