Harold Camping needs to publicly apologize for being wrong about his doomsday prediction and leading people astray, said a Southern Baptist leader.
The California radio broadcaster’s wrong prediction about the rapture and the end of the world reflected poorly on Christians, said Ed Stetzer, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s LifeWay Research and LifeWay’s missiologist in residence.
Stetzer issued a series of tweets about Camping’s eschatological prediction on Saturday, among which one noted that there was no earthquake in New Zealand after 6 p.m.
“Harold Camping, pls update www.family.radio.com w/your repentance statement & instructions to your now-broke followers,” Stetzer tweeted.
An hour later he tweeted again, “6pm here in Turkey. I’m standing at the Temple of Athena waiting for the Rapture. Nothing happened. ;-)”
For months, followers of the 89-year-old Camping, who previously wrongly predicted the rapture would occur in September 1994, have been warning that the rapture would occur on May 21, 2011. Supporters would hold placards on busy streets in major cities that read: “Judgment Day May 21, 2011.”
Family Radio, a non-profit Christian radio network headed by Camping, was the name seen on the placards, bus ads, billboards and in media coverage on the May 21 prediction.
But surprisingly, many within the California-based radio network do not believe that the first phase of the end of the world begins Saturday.
“I don’t believe in any of this stuff that’s going on, and I plan on being here next week,” a receptionist identified as Esther at the group’s headquarters in Oakland, Calif., told CNNMoney.
Esther said some of her co-workers who believe in Camping’s prediction had bought expensive cars or taken their families on vacation ahead of May 21.
In New York, follower Robert Fitzpatrick, 60, spent his entire $140,000 life savings on 1,000 subway-car placards and ads at bus stops warning about May 21. The ads read: “Global Earthquake: The Greatest Ever! Judgment Day May 21, 2011.”
Another Camping follower, 27-year-old Adrienne Martinez, was planning to go to medical school but decided not to after listening to Family Radio. Martinez and her husband, Joel, had lived in New York City but a year ago quit their jobs and moved to Orlando. They spent their time reading the Bible and distributing tracts, according to NPR. They have a two-year-old daughter and a second child due next month.
“We budgeted everything so that, on May 21, we won’t have anything left,” Adrienne said to NPR.
While some of Camping’s listeners are all-in when it comes to his rapture prediction, Family Radio’s Esther estimates that 80 percent of her co-workers don’t believe their own boss about May 21, according to CNNMoney.
The receptionist is still scheduling appointments for her co-workers after Saturday.
Family Radio has about 350 paid staff working to run 66 radio stations across the nation. The network’s financial documents, according to CNNMoney, shows that it received $80 million in contributions between 2005 and 2009. But Camping, according to documents, has not been paid a penny from the contributions. He has worked as a volunteer at Family Radio.