Use up your sick days, blow your life savings, crack open that expensive bottle of wine and enjoy the next week because it will be your last.
Well…that’s only if you agree with some radical Christian groups who have estimated that Saturday, May 21, 2011 will be “Judgment Day.”
Although the majority of Christians (myself included) believe that there is no way to predict when the world will end and “Judgment Day” will come, fringe groups around the country have been warning of the end for a while now.
Harold Camping, founder of the popular Christian radio network, Family Radio, calculated that judgment day will occur on May 21. According to Camping, a small number of Christians will ascend to heaven on that day, and on October 21, the universe will be destroyed.
Despite the lack of evidence to back up his claim, however, Camping is steadfast in his belief that the end is near.
“With all the proofs that God has given us, and all the signs, I am absolutely certain [that Judgment Day will arrive on May 21]. It is going to happen. There is no Plan B,” he assuredly told NPR.
But this isn’t the first time Camping predicted the end of the world. He once warned that Judgment Day would happen in 1994, but you see how that worked out.
Instead of admitting he was wrong, Camping said his previous prediction was based on bad data.
“It was based on incomplete research and I was quite aware that the research was incomplete,” he told NPR. “So it was just like a first announcement that we’re almost there.”
Despite his previous miscalculations, some people are buying Camping’s warnings. For the past two weeks I have spotted people holding up signs around my neighborhood warning that the end is near, and all I kept thinking was…why are they just now hitting the streets?
Personally, I blame the nightly news.
A perceived uptick in natural disasters and an unstable political climate has seemed to increase the number of doomsday predictions, but preaching about the end of the world is nothing new.
Some 41 percent of Americans believe Jesus will return by the year 2050, according to a poll by The Pew Research Center.
For many of these believers, news events can take on an apocalyptic meaning. A global economy? The rise of the European Union? It’s all outlined in the Bible, they say. A spate of wars in the Middle East? Ditto. Epidemics, extreme weather patterns. Open your Bible and turn on the news.
“We’ve always had earthquakes, we’ve always had storms, and we’ve had tsunamis in the past,” says the Rev. David Jeremiah, “but it does seem that these things are happening with more intensity and more frequently.”
Gutierrez says this convergence is less about the end of the world and more about the rise of instant media.
“If you’re looking for signs of the end, we are more than capable of delivering them directly to your computer or to your television within seconds,” she says.
No matter what you believe, things will be amazingly awkward for Harold Camping and those who believe his predictions, if we’re all still here on May 22.