You might have already heard that Harold Camping, host of the conservative Christian radio show Family Radio, is predicting Christ’s return on May 21, 2011, and the end of the world a few months thereafter. Camping has a history of such predictions, and the fact that he hasn’t been right yet doesn’t seem to diminish his following.
The stories of some of those followers are painful to read. Consider this article from Colorado Springs, which mentions Marie Exley. Exley is unemployed, yet she spent $1,200 on a bench ad that advertises Camping’s prediction. This is bad enough, but people giving money they can’t afford to religious hucksters is nothing new. But this moved the story towards pathos:
Exley has bittersweet feelings about Camping’s prediction.
“There are things I felt I always wanted to do — get married, have a kid, travel more,” she said. “But it’s not about what I want out of life. It’s about what God wants.”
No, Exley, this is not about what God wants. It’s about what Camping is capable of getting you to swallow.
My strategy for these sorts of predictions has always been the same: on May 22, 2011, I intend to be smug and still here. But stories like this one pain me. I just don’t understand the thought process that allows people to buy into this, even while it causes them pain and harm.