12 Mar 2011

Family Radio apocalyptic cult says the Bible guarantees Jesus will return on May 21, 2011

Note by Perry Bulwer:  Apocalypticism is an extremely dangerous world view that is often used by cult leaders to manipulate followers with fear, the better to control them. At the end of the following article is a list of links to many more news articles detailing horrific abuses committed against children by religious leaders preaching the imminent return of Jesus. It does not matter how many times their predictions and prophecies fail. They simply revise their own history of failure and continue to predict new dates. This is common to all apocalyptic groups. Two that come immediately to mind are the Jehovah's Witnesses and The Family International, formerly the Children of God.  Leaders of both cults have falsely predicted specific dates for when Jesus would return, and both revised those predictions when they failed, just like Harold Camping has done as told in the article below. His cult "point[s] to the existence of other like-minded groups as evidence that Family Radio is not a cult".  That is not a very convincing or logical argument, however, as one of the most like-minded apocalyptic groups, with a similar history of caravaning around the U.S. predicting Jesus' return and instilling fear into children with their doomsday message, is The Family International, which is a harmful cult by any definition. See this article Novelist describes how she survived childhood of abuse and neglect growing up in The Family International, aka, Children of God  for more information about that cult, as well as the articles linked to at the end of this post.


CNN - March 7, 2011

Road trip to the end of the world

By Jessica Ravitz  |   CNN

From Jacksonville to Tampa, Florida (CNN) -- If you thought you had less than three perfectly healthy months to live, what would you do? Would you travel? Spend time with loved ones? Appreciate the joy life has given you?

Or would you ditch your kids and grandkids, join strangers in a caravan of RVs and travel the country warning people about the end of the world?

If you're Sheila Jonas, that's exactly what you'd do.

"This is so serious, I can't believe I'm here," says Jonas, who's been on the road since fall. Like her cohorts, she's "in it 'til the end," which she believes is coming in May.

She won't talk about her past because, "There is no other story. ... We are to warn the people. Nothing else matters."

Such faith and concern drove her and nine others, all loyal listeners of the Christian broadcasting ministry Family Radio, to join the radio station's first "Project Caravan" team.

They walked away from work, families and communities in places as far-flung as California, Kansas, Utah and New Jersey. Among them are an electrician, a TV satellite dish installer, a former chef, an international IT consultant and a man who had worked with the developmentally disabled.

They gave away cars, pets, music collections and more to relatives, friends and neighbors. Some items they kicked to the curb. In homes that weren't emptied, clothes are still hanging in closets, and dishes, books and furniture -- including one man's antique collection -- are gathering dust. Unless, of course, they've been claimed by others. If you believe it's all going to be over soon, why would it matter if you close the front door, much less lock it, when you walk away?

It's a mid-winter morning in Jacksonville, Florida, when CNN joins this faithful caravan. The "ambassadors," as they call themselves, are easy to spot. They are the 10 people milling about in an RV park drawing stares, eye rolls, under-the-breath mutters and, at times, words of support.

They're wearing sweatshirts and other clothing announcing the "Awesome News," that Judgment Day is coming on May 21. On that day, people who will be saved will be raptured up to heaven. The rest will endure exactly 153 days of death and horror before the world ends on October 21. That message is splashed across their five sleek, vinyl-wrapped RVs, bearing this promise: "The Bible guarantees it!"

Maneuvering onto the road with such a serious statement takes time and patience.

The five vehicles in this caravan are numbered 11 through 15, and the ambassadors line them up in numerical order before hitting the road. They work hard to stay in one lane and keep other cars from breaking into the convoy. That's the best way to be noticed, they say.

The drivers, their vehicles spread out in a parking lot, spend about 10 minutes doing a choreographed RV dance to get in proper formation.

From the back of No. 14, we hold tight to our equipment, and our seats, as the jerking around begins.

Caravans of RVs are crisscrossing the country spreading the "awesome news" of the end of the world.

Reverse. Forward. Turn to the left.

"Eleven, 15, go back please," a voice crackles over the walkie-talkies.

Spin around. Veer right. Stop. Wait.

"Is everyone in order and ready to come out of there?" Crackle, crackle. "13?"


"I hope the Rapture is smoother than this," one driver says.

Since this inaugural caravan team embarked on this doomsday journey, two other teams have set out elsewhere -- one is in Pennsylvania, another in Texas. A fourth and final group will soon follow.

They have been chosen by God to spread the news few understand, the ambassadors say. They liken themselves to biblical figures, including Jonah, who God commanded to warn the people of Nineveh of their city's destruction.

They say their work comes with ample precedence, that the God they believe in would never bring judgment on his people without warning them first. Their job is to "sound the alarm," they say, pointing to Ezekiel 33. Just by being out in their RVs, wearing their T-shirts, jackets and caps, and passing out their pamphlets -- which they call tracts -- they are fulfilling a mission.

The RVs pulled out of the Oakland, California, Family Radio headquarters in late October. The odometers are nearing 30,000 miles as this team, which first traversed the Pacific Northwest before weaving its way through the South, heads toward its next destination: Tampa, Florida.

But avast, ye scurvy readers, this isn't just any time in Tampa. Awaiting the ambassadors are, by some estimates, 400,000 people gathering for the Gasparilla Pirate Fest -- a Mardi Gras, of sorts, for throngs of drunken buccaneers.

Blanketing the world with doom

Darryl Keitt, left, and John Gallegos prepare to face another day on the road.

The ambassadors each remember the first time they heard Family Radio.

Adam Larsen, 32, was a student in Phoenix, Arizona, working nights as a security guard with his Bible already open in front of him. Darryl Keitt, 51, remembers flipping through stations back in 1976, when he might have been sporting his 4-inch platform shoes, looking for disco music.

Team leader Fred Store, 65, was road tripping between Sacramento and Bakersfield, California, when he first tuned in to the station's inspirational music and talk 15 years ago.

John Gallegos, 75, found it five years earlier while driving a truck between Utah and Wyoming. And David Liquori, 45, was so taken when he stumbled upon it 28 years ago that he's gone stretches as long as three years in which he's listened all day, every day.

The voice that grabbed most of them belongs to Harold Camping, host of the program "Open Forum" and the force behind Family Stations Inc., home to Family Radio.

Starting with one station in Oakland, California, in 1959, Camping's Family Radio now boasts 66 stations across the United States. Thanks to strategically placed satellites, shortwave radio and the internet, the message has gone global in 61 languages.

"We pretty much blanket the whole world," says Camping, 89.

This degreed engineer, who calls the Bible his "university," believes the church age ended and the "Great Tribulation" (the years leading up to the end, he says) began on May 21, 1988, when Satan entered the pews. Truth, he says, can be found only in the Bible and not through the mouths of clergy.

He has dissected scripture and crunched his biblical numbers to come up with the fateful dates. He rattles off mathematical explanations of how he did this work, throwing out Bible verses and calculations that leave an outsider's head spinning.

But Camping also happens to be the man who once said September 6, 1994, would be the big day.

He explains now that he originally thought 2011 was the year, but a few verses tripped him up and he concluded that the Great Tribulation might get cut short. There was still scripture he was grappling with, end-time signs that were to come -- he points to the gay pride movement as one of them -- and truths that had yet to be revealed, "but because of the urgency of time I had to get it out quickly," he says of his previous warning.

This time around, he has no doubts.

"I know it's absolutely true, because the Bible is always absolutely true," he says. "If I were not faithful that would mean that I'm a hypocrite."

'Amazing how God works'

Behind the wheel of RV No. 14 is 32-year-old Adam Larsen, the youngest ambassador on this caravan team.

Larsen hands around his smartphone to share YouTube videos, including one showing billboards around the world proclaiming the May doomsday warning. Next he pulls out what looks like a glossy business card, one he says he likes to lodge in gas pump credit card slots so people are forced to see it. The card reads: "He is coming again! May 21, 2011."

Spreading this message alongside like-minded people is of great comfort to Larsen. Back home in Ellsworth, Kansas, he walked this end-time walk alone and didn't feel heard. The opportunity to focus full-time on what he believes, to serve God as a "moving billboard" in his RV, was one this avid hunter couldn't ignore.

"My favorite pastime is coon hunting," he says, referring to the raccoons he targets in rural Kansas. "I had to give that up, but this is far more important."

Much like the animals on Noah's ark, these ambassadors generally travel in pairs. Larsen's RV partner is Keitt, the former disco fan, of Elizabeth, New Jersey. He seems the most comfortable of the ambassadors talking to outsiders and doesn't incessantly quote scripture like others do. After he mentions that he's on a diet, he gets the humor when asked, "What's the point?"

When prodded to discuss their "bucket lists," most caravan members find the question absurd and dismiss it immediately. There's nothing they'd rather be doing now. But Keitt at least admits he would have liked to have gotten married before the world ended.

He'd been a seeker, someone who began looking for God and truth as a teen. He has family roots in a Pentecostal denomination, went to a Catholic school and has dabbled in everything from astrology and metaphysics to Eastern religions. His mother and brother converted to Islam.

Unlike some of the others, he says, he's lucky to have the ongoing love and support of his family, even though, "I'm sure, in the back of their minds, they're hoping I'll come to my senses."

His current beliefs evolved gradually and became solidified about a year ago after he lost his job in social services, rebounded from a DUI arrest after a car wreck and found himself with the time -- and the need -- to study, pray and really listen to Family Radio.

"It's amazing how God works," he says. "You can be at your worst, and he'll lift you up."

Warning, not saving

The ambassadors stream into a Waffle House, one of their favorite Southern discoveries, for lunch before arriving in Tampa.

After bowing his head in prayer and biting into his BLT, Liquori, a loyal Family Radio listener from Long Island, New York, begins to offer glimpses into what he left behind.

Separated on and off from his wife for eight years, he texts with his 12-year-old son daily. He hopes the boy's mother will send the boy for a visit before it's all over. His family doesn't appreciate what he knows, he says. His father is a lapsed Catholic, his mother is Jewish -- he calls Judaism a "dead religion" -- and his brother is either an atheist or agnostic. He isn't sure.

But what he does know is that he feels closer to his fellow travelers than he does his family.

"We can only have intimate relationships with other children of God," he says.

Across from him sits Gallegos, from Utah -- at 75 the team's oldest member. While most all the ambassadors on this trip are single, divorced or separated, he is an exception.

He's left behind a wife of 53 years, a woman he says he was betrothed to at age 4. She shares his beliefs, he says, but wasn't up for hitting the road by RV. He also walked away from his 10 children and their families.

One might think this sort of separation would weigh on a man, but Gallegos says he misses his quality time with God more than his wife. He says he used to study scripture and engage in prayer 10 hours a day. Now Gallegos steals moments each morning with his heavily highlighted and tabbed Bible, and he reads verses to the group when they gather in circles for prayer.

He and the other caravan members say they may be the chosen ones to lead this charge, but they don't fight alone. With announcements made on Family Radio of their impending arrival in new cities, local listeners -- about 30 of them in Jacksonville, dozens of others in Tampa -- get in on the gospel action, too.

Part of that work is answering the challenge they hear most from Christians, who say the Bible teaches them no one can know when Judgment Day is coming.

That may be true, this group says, but as the end approaches the rules have changed. They say secrets God told to Daniel -- as in the Book of Daniel -- have now been unsealed, revealing new truths.

And now that they know what they believe to be true, their job is to warn -- not save -- others.

What a person can do upon hearing the warning remains slightly unclear. They want people to open Bibles and study for themselves. They suggest that everyone "cry for mercy."

But they also believe that before he created the world, God predetermined who will be saved when the Rapture comes. So if you're not part of the elect, the 2% to 3% of the world destined to be saved, what does it matter if you spend the next three months reciting scripture or, instead, kick back with an endless supply of doughnuts?

Their limited ability to help people doesn't dampen the enthusiasm once they hit Tampa in the late afternoon.

Ambassadors scout out the territory and begin making their presence known, as street vendors start staking their claim to areas along the next day's parade route.

Gallegos stands on a corner and holds up a sign announcing the end. A man in a truck spots the warning, leans out his window and screams, "Amen, amen, amen!" Gallegos, thrilled to have found a friend and taker, darts out into the street toward the truck, tract in hand.

Nearby stands Tony DeLLomo, 63. He sports a white sweatsuit with the words "Jesus is King of Kings" emblazoned in red across his chest, as well as a matching sweatband on his head that reads "Jesus saves." He's a fan of Family Radio and other ministries working in partnership to preach the same doomsday message -- organizations that include eBible Fellowship, Latter Rain, Bible Ministries International and WeCanKnow.com.

Ambassadors point to the existence of other like-minded groups as evidence that Family Radio is not a cult. Adds Camping, the head of Family Radio: "I don't have anybody under my control. They're volunteers. I'm just a teacher. I'm just showing them where to look in the Bible. The Bible is the authority."

Scholars say predictions of the end have come and gone throughout history, and Camping's latest interpretation is just one to add to a list that will continue to grow.

But DeLLomo doesn't care about what's happened, or not happened, in the past. He's been on the road warning of the end for 13 years, he says, before boasting -- with a smile -- that he'd just been kicked out of a Super Walmart.

Driving RV No. 15 through downtown Tampa as the sun sets and night falls, Liquori explains that security at malls and stores like Walmart -- among the places they like to frequent -- can pose obstacles when spreading the news.

"We try to obey the law of the land as much as possible, but when it comes to getting out the gospel, we must obey God, not man," he says.

They circle the darkening city streets in formation, the reflective lettering on their RVs shining brightly, hoping to inspire "shock and awe," Liquori says.

They want dropped jaws, pointed fingers, whipped-out cameras. But on this night, when most residents are likely home gearing up for Gasparilla, ironing their ruffled shirts and polishing their black boots, the reaction is negligible. The few people the RVs pass seem unfazed by the warning.

"I've learned to keep my expectations low. I don't want this to be an emotional trip," Liquori says, looking ahead to the next day's event. "I expect it's going to be a tough crowd. From what I've heard about Floridians, they can have attitudes and be feisty."

Swilling beer and scripture

The pirates arrive early, as do the warnings.

Arianna Ramrajie, of Ocala, Florida, has one she'd like to share.

On May 21, the sun will "turn red like blood," the Earth will open up, bodies will be strewn about and "some people will die for eternity," she says.

"It scares me a little bit because some people are going to die, and I think I'm one of them," she adds. "I'm trying to do good things, but I'm afraid I'm doing something bad."

Arianna is 7, after all, and being good all the time cannot be easy. Her father stands next to her, nodding his approval.

Arianna Ramrajie, 7, right, joins her sister, Breana, 8, in sharing the doomsday message.

She and her family, who've come in to help for the day, wander off to pass out tracts amid people wearing tricorn hats, carrying plastic swords and swilling beer and cocktails.

Some ambassadors look for good corners to claim, as does a man dressed as a chicken who is here to announce his own awesome news: the opening of a nearby restaurant.

Keitt loads up his backpack with freshly folded tracts and prepares to face the growing throngs.

"I can't spend that much time with each person. It's all about numbers," he says. "You really have to be assertive in a crowd like this because they're so focused on one thing. Gasparilla -- and drinking."

As he rushes down a sidewalk, a man walking behind him pulls up his eye patch to read the warning on the back of Keitt's shirt and mutters, "Damn, you're depressing me."

Taking his spot, Keitt gets to work, armed with a stack of tracts.

"How about you ma'am? We're giving these out all over the country," he says to one, hand extended. "Will you be the fortunate one?" he asks another. "We're going all over the country with this message," he offers a third.

Plenty take the tracts, though many look at them confused -- or perhaps that puzzled look is just the beer talking. Others whisk by and ignore him. Some cry out that they're banking on the Mayans to give them another year. The ambassadors, of course, pooh-pooh talk of the world ending in 2012. Their RVs advertise their dismissal of that date by featuring the year 2012 circled in red with a slash through it.

One man takes a tract, looks at Keitt and says, "I'll put it on my calendar and come back on May 22 to see if you're still here."

Most of the ambassadors refuse to even think about waking up on May 22. They believe Christ will return on May 21, the Day of Rapture, that they will be saved and taken up to heaven, and that those left behind will face unspeakable suffering until the world ends.

"If I'm here on May 22, it simply means I wasn't one of the elect," Keitt tells us.

Screaming and reaching

A pirate ship rolls up the street, blaring the hip-hop hit, "Party Like a Rockstar," by the Shop Boyz. College students bump and grind, raise their hands in the air and toss back beers. Two young men embrace in a passionate kiss.

On the other side of the parade route, 7-year-old Arianna is dancing, too. She's beside her sister, pressed against the barricade, screaming and reaching for flying beads. She's laughing. She's in the moment. She's being a kid.

Behind her stands her father, his face serious, his arms crossed.

Later, beside a Family Radio RV, Arianna beams and shows off all her beads, the multitude that drape her neck and the tangle of colors that fill her little shoulder bag.

She reaches in, scoops out a handful and giggles as a long strand falls to the ground.

Buried beneath the bounty in her bag lies a reminder of the serious responsibility that awaits her in the coming months: A stack of tracts, announcing the end is near.

This article was found at:


Apocalypticism is a simplistic but dangerous world view spreading rapidly like a toxic virus

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Prominent Christian theologist says killing children okay if God commands it, an atheist responds to the immorality

Child sacrifice and other atrocities ignored by believers who consider the Bible the source of morality

Folie a deux: the insane prophets of the Seventh-day Adventists and The Family International

Gaddafi, The Family International and the Antichrist

Failed prophecies and predictions don't deter Christian fundamentalists from spreading doomsday message

Texas cult convict murdered, served time for beating death of girl and sex abuse of boy

Canadian apocalyptic cult leader who maimed and murdered followers in religious rituals killed in prison

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Apocalyptic cult leader dies, doomsday predictions never materialized

Confused California cult leader just the latest false prophet to endanger followers with apocalyptic fever

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Russian sex cult leader "from the star Sirius" charged with rape, sexual abuse and human rights violations

Novel Faiths Find Followers Among Russia's Disillusioned

Waiting for Armageddon

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Cult leader seeks to free children, official says

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Sects and sex abuse: battle of the apocalyptic sex cults

Cult survivors reveal deranged mind of messianic leader of Australian cult Zion Full Ministry

Self-proclaimed prophets: Phillip Garrido, David Berg and Joseph Smith

The Making of a Twisted Sexual Theology: Q+A on "Jesus Freaks"

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UK survivor confirms mother's fears about abusive cult The Family International that tried to recruit her teen daughter

Fugitive leaders of The Family International found hiding in Mexico after former members sought psychological help

Family International a.k.a. Children of God: Once dismissed as 'sex cult,' tiny church launches image makeover


  1. The End Of The World Again

    by Ted Harrison The Independent October 15, 2011

    ... This year, the Rapture Index – a Doomsday Dow Jones – has been at an all-time high. In August it hit an unprecedented 184. Thousands of Christians around the world are on red-alert for the Rapture and Judgement Day. In the last days, according to St Luke's Gospel, "there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring". There will also "be wars and commotions... Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom... and great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences."

    ... The index editor, Terry James, of Little Rock, Arkansas, says he records the signs and then factors them into a "cohesive indicator". He stresses he is not in the business of making predictions, he simply measures the type of activity that "could act as a precursor to the Rapture. The higher the number, the faster we're moving towards the end."

    In December 1993, when the index began, it stood at 57. Today it stands at over 180, comparable to its short-lived 9/11 peak 10 years ago. Any reading over 160, say the organisers, and it is time to "fasten the seatbelts". The Apocalypse will start, so thousands of Christians believe, with the Rapture, when, suddenly, the righteous will vanish from the face of the earth – whisked up into heaven, leaving the unsaved to face earthquakes, fire, brimstone and destruction. Sounds familiar? That's because it is. The signs were all in place, and the Index high, five months ago. And, according to the 90-year-old American evangelist Harold Camping, the Apocalypse should have begun on 21 May. Shortly after his much-publicised prediction appeared to fail, Camping suffered a stroke, but even from his hospital bed he continued to number-crunch.

    Now, he declares, he was right. 21 May was Judgement Day. And as the Rapture will happen exactly 5 months after Judgement Day, the Californian preacher has a new date in his diary. "We can be sure that the whole world [will be annihilated] on 21 October 2011." The new date is not being as widely publicised as the May prediction. Since Judgement Day has already happened, there is nothing people can do to save their souls, Camping believes. Before the May date his radio station sponsored a worldwide publicity blitz.
    Following Camping's first failed prediction in 1994, there was at least one suicide reported, and as time went by after 21 May, family and friends of some of the end-time ambassadors became increasingly anxious. ...

    "We're still here," said Dave Kellar, on the Monday after the apocalypse-that-wasn't. "We've had some hassle and we are going to have a rethink of direction. One day what the Bible says will happen." When asked now about the October prophecy, both Dave Kellar and Steve Whyte cite the latest message from end-time blogger "Brother Mike". "Even if the end of the world... does not come this year due to the frailties of our human understanding, that does not disprove everything we have taught; nor would it disprove the date of 21 October 2011, but it would simply mean that... we were not granted a clear understanding of the nature of the happenings on 21 October"


    read the full article at:


  2. Doomsday ministry scrubs end of world predictions from website

    By Dan Merica, CNN

    The Christian radio broadcasting network that touted Harold Camping's failed doomsday predictions may be getting out of the prophecy business, adopting what appears to be a vaguer vision of the end times. "We are to live so that we are ready for the return of Christ, and even pray for it," according to a Family Radio statement obtained by The Christian Post. "But we also rejoice in every new day, that we've been given another day to occupy and serve our Lord."

    Family Radio, which Camping founded in 1958, had posted an explainer detailing why Camping's prediction that May 21 would be the beginning of the end didn't come to pass. That explainer got yanked from the Family Radio website earlier this week.

    Camping had originally said that those selected for salvation would be raptured up to heaven on May 21, and those left behind would face months of judgment amid destruction before the world's end on October 21. The Family Radio website tweaked the prediction after May 21, saying God had shown mercy by sparing people five months of suffering. But final judgment was still slated to come on October 21, when salvation and the world's destruction would happen at once.

    But according to the Christian Post, Family Radio is now painting a more fluid picture of doomsday, a departure from the definite dates that Camping set earlier in the year. "Thy command is still to occupy until he comes," the statement obtained by Christian Post said. "We are still to go teach and tell. Every day we, who are Christians, live in attention.

    CNN's calls to Harold Camping and Family Radio went unanswered. When the world didn't end last week, Camping followers who gathered for a regular Sunday fellowship meeting questioned if they had been left behind, according to Brandon Tauszik, a documentarian who began attending the meetings this year.

    "Numbers were a bit down, for the first time I had ever seen, but people showed up much like they did after May 21," said Tauszik, who attends the Oakland, California fellowship meetings out of interest and who never believed the world would end. "People were coming together, speaking outside, asking where we went wrong."

    The faith of Camping's most ardent followers was not swayed by the recent news. According to Fred Store, a longtime Family Radio listener, the general belief is "Judgment Day did in fact occur on May 21."

    CNN's Jessica Ravitz contributed to this report.


  3. Harold Camping's Daughter Responds to Claims Family Radio Founder Has 'Retired'

    By Luiza Oleszczuk, Christian Post November 3, 2011

    Family Radio has commented on the allegations about its founder and president Harold Camping retiring since The Christian Post reported on Oct. 24 that the 90-year-old doomsday prophet had told a young church member he was "retired." At the time, CP was not able to confirm that information directly with Camping or any official at Family Radio. However, the young man, also a documentarian, said he had recordings supporting his claims. Susan Espinoza, Camping's daughter and manager of the international department at Family Radio, has denied that her father has retired completely. ...
    CP received word of Camping's retirement from Brandon Tauszik, a young documentarian who has been attending the congregation where Camping held his Bible study classes. Espinoza informed CP that what Tauszik called "Camping's church" is actually what Family Radio members refer to as the "Fellowship," which is "the gathering of people every Sunday in the local Veteran's Hall, where Mr. Camping used to lead a Bible study on Sundays." Espinoza denied that the congregation is the "station's church" in any way, although she confirmed that Family Radio used the Sunday messages in their programming. She also said, "Mr. Camping no longer speaks on Sundays or attends the Fellowship."

    Espinoza also claimed that Tauszik used deceit to enter the Camping’s Alameda, Calif., home and interview the radio evangelist and his wife, Shirley, and that he was asked to leave after it was suspected that he might be a reporter. "Brandon misrepresented himself in order to enter the Camping's home. Within 5 minutes they realized he was a reporter and politely asked him to leave. They did not tell him Mr. Camping is going to retire,” Espinoza contradicted the documentarian in the email. Tauszik has been attending the Fellowship for eight months and he introduced himself to CP as the person documenting the life of the church and Mr. Camping. He has a number of photographs from the ministry on his website. Tauszik also claimed to have an audio recording of the conversation in which both Camping and his wife indicate that the Bible teacher is "retired." ... ...
    The last statement released by Mr. Camping himself was an audio recording published via the Family Radio website last week. In it, Camping responds to the fact that Oct. 21 failed to be the day of the Rapture and the destruction of the world, as he had predicted it would be. "Why didn't Christ return on Oct. 21? It seems embarrassing for Family Radio," he said in the audio address. "But God was in charge of everything. We came to that conclusion after quite careful study of the Bible. He allowed everything to happen the way it did without correction. He could have stopped everything if He had wanted to."

    CP reported on Camping's message of regret after his third missed prophecy. The Family Radio founder also apologized for saying that "people who did not believe that May 21 should not be the Rapture date, probably had not been saved." However, many of CP's readers expressed skepticism about the Bible teacher genuinely repenting of his past statements. Some commenters have said the address is meant to be read not as the end of the story, but as a continuation, and do not believe that Camping is really sorry for wrongly and staunchly claiming on three separate occasions that the world would end. ... Camping first falsely predicted that the world would end on Sept. 6, 1994, then again on May 21, 2011, and finally on Oct. 21.

    read the full article at:

  4. Warren Jeffs predicts death and destruction to the U.S. from prison

    By Dennis Romboy, Deseret News November 14, 2011

    SALT LAKE CITY — Apparent prophecies from imprisoned FLDS Church leader Warren Jeffs warning of the destruction of America were delivered to the Utah Attorney General's Office on Monday.

    In one of the five separate "revelations," Jeffs writes that Jesus Christ will make his coming known with a "great tsunami of the sea" on the East Coast; earthquakes and volcanoes in "populated places" in Utah and Arizona; a tidal wave in Seattle; and melting in Idaho "to cleanse my land of all evil."

    "But surprisingly nothing going on in Texas," quipped Paul Murphy, Utah Attorney General's Office spokesman.

    Jeffs, 55, was sentenced to life in prison in Texas earlier this year after being convicted of sexually assaulting two girls he wed as spiritual brides when they were 12 and 14 years old.

    In addition to the two- and three-page revelations, the attorney general received a more than 200-page "proclamation" that contains writings about his Jeffs' father, Rulon Jeffs, past FLDS leaders and and Mormon Church founder Joseph Smith, Murphy said. The packet also includes an order form for new and old Jeffs' revelations that can be bought over the Internet for $1 to $8.

    The revelations seem to have to do with the fact that Jeffs is in prison for plural marriage, Murphy said.

    In a revelation dated Sept. 25, 2011, in Tennessee Colony, Texas, for "Leaders and Peoples of the United States of America," Jeffs writes plural marriage has come under attack as if it were corrupt.

    "It is not so," he writes.

    "Thus, you have imprisoned men who are holy and pure, of pure religious motive, not desiring harm to anyone; and your prosecuting zeal is a crime against my Priesthood, Church and Kingdom that shall be answered upon thy people and governing powers if you heed me not."

    Each revelation includes dates for when Jeffs received it (two in October and August, one in September) and a city where it was received (two in Palestine and Huntsville, Texas, one in Tennessee Colony, Texas). Jeffs has been incarcerated in those areas since he was sentenced in August.

    The documents contain the signatures of Vaughan L. Taylor, who lists himself as patriarch of the Utah-based Fundamentalist LDS Church, and John M. Barlow, counselor in the FLDS bishopric.

    Murphy said the revelations appear consistent with those Jeffs has issued in the past.

    Jeffs predicted calamities in Utah following the 2002 Winter Games along with the end of the world.

    "And when they don't happen, he comes up with reasons for why they don't happen," Murphy said.

    Murphy said he didn't see anything in the new prophecies the attorney general would consider a direct threat, noting they were being sent to "all nations."

    "I'm assuming we're not the only ones receiving these revelations," he said.

    Jeffs also prophecies that in one or two years of his warning, "heavenly bodies of a larger size" will strike the earth and disturb the atmosphere, resulting in people being burned.

    The revelations are not confined to the U.S. He predicts an uprising in Turkey and instability in Europe. He says NATO has lost credibility and is an "aggressive alliance."


  5. Quakes, volcanoes, 'melting': Jeffs offers new revelations from God

    Lindsay Whitehurst, The Salt Lake Tribune
    November 14, 2011

    Imprisoned polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs is seeing apocalyptic things again.

    A Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints elder sent a packet of four new revelations and a 248-page proclamation to the Utah Attorney General's Office Monday, said spokesman Paul Murphy via Twitter.

    Murphy sent me a copy of the revelations, which total 16 pages. (Read them here) The earliest is dated Aug. 18, just over a week after a Texas jury sentenced Jeffs to life in prison for sexually assaulting two girls, ages 12 and 15, who he took as plural wives.

    The revelation calls out the "rulers of this land" for "putting innocence in prison now" and implied that prosecution against Jeffs was all a lie. It also says Libya was at that point under attack unfairly and that other countries would "unite other nations to fight NATO nations," and that the US economy would "wither."

    A second revelation dated the next day, also from Hunstville, Texas, threatens a "sickness onto the land."

    There's a break for about a month - during that time Jeffs was in a prison hospital with an unspecified ailment suffered during fasting - until a revelation dated Sept. 25 from Tennessee Colony, Texas, where he was sent immediately after his release from the hospital. It takes credit for storms and flooding, apparently as payback for "prosecut[ing] my Church and my Kingdom" and, more directly commands: " Heed my word: Let my servant go."

    The most recent revelation in the packet is dated Oct. 28. It's the most specific, predicting tsunamis for the east coast and for Seattle, earthquakes and volcanoes in Utah and Arizona, and that Idaho "shall be as a melting fire of such powers."
    If that seems like a lot of places, don't worry. We've got a google map of all the areas slated for God's wrath.
    Why is the punishment coming? Besides Jeffs' imprisionment, it's for "sins of immorality," in particular the "murder of unborn children." (Jeffs is very concerned about abortion. He mentions it a couple of times in these revelations and on other occasions in priesthood records).

    This isn't the first time that Jeffs has sent such a bundle of bad tidings. Back in March, his followers mailed out an 18-page proclamation predicting ruin for President Obama's one-time home state of Illinois if he wasn't freed from jail. It was reportedly sent to quite a number of people, including leaders from Utah to Washington.

    During his July sexual assault of a child trial in Texas, Jeffs claimed to have gotten a couple revelations from God promising "sickness and death" to those prosecuting him. Neither succeeded in stalling his trial, as Jeffs claimed the Lord wanted.

    The revelation is signed by FLDS Patriarch Vaughn Taylor and Counselor in the Bishopric John Barlow. Taylor also signed the March proclamation.

    You can buy copies of some revelations, by the way, at flds.org. It looks like these new ones are available for order, according to a note at the bottom of the packet.


  6. Doomsday preacher admits: I was wrong

    By the CNN Wire Staff, March 9, 2012

    Many months after his doomsday prediction failed to materialize, a humbled California preacher has admitted his mistake and said he is out of the forecasting game.

    The Day of Rapture, as predicted by apocalyptic Christian broadcaster Harold Camping, passed without calamity on May 21. Camping's second date, October 21, also came and went without so much as a whimper.

    The world, it seems, is not doomed.

    "We humbly acknowledge we were wrong," Camping and his staff members wrote in a letter to supporters posted on the website of Family Radio, Camping's California-based broadcast ministry.

    He goes further, saying he and his network are no longer interested in predicting when the world will end.
    Camping had originally said that those selected for salvation would be raptured up to heaven May 21, and those left behind would face months of judgment amid destruction before the world's end October 21.

    The Family Radio website tweaked the prediction after May 21, saying God had shown mercy by sparing people five months of suffering. But final judgment was still slated to come October 21, when salvation and the world's destruction would happen at once.

    "We must also openly acknowledge that we have no new evidence pointing to another date for the end of the world. Though many dates are circulating, Family Radio has no interest in even considering another date. God has humbled us through the events of May 21, to continue to even more fervently search the Scriptures (the Bible), not to find dates, but to be more faithful in our understanding," Camping wrote in the letter dated this month.

    The preacher first inaccurately predicted the world would end in 1994. Despite his poor track record, he has gathered many followers. Some gave up their homes, jobs and life savings because they believed the world was ending.


  7. Oops!

    by Matthew Sutton, RELIGION IN THE NEWS Spring 2012, Vol. 14, No. 1

    Last May 21, thousands of Christians expected to be raptured to heaven. As they prepared to leave this world, millions of Americans followed their story. Some pitied the faithful while others playfully mocked them with Rapture parties, apocalyptic playlists, and humorous tweets. Some of the more creative inflated blow-up dolls with helium and released them to the heavens.

    At the center of the drama was Harold Camping, an elderly radio preacher from Oakland, California, whose apocalyptic pronouncements—along with his and his followers’ media savvy—helped make a failed Rapture one of the most intriguing religion news stories of the year.

    Born in Southern California in 1921, Camping went to U.C. Berkeley, where he received a degree in civil engineering. After World War II, he began a successful construction business while belonging to a congregation of the Christian Reformed Church—the small evangelical denomination with roots in Dutch Calvinism.

    In 1958, Camping and a couple of friends formed an evangelistic radio ministry, which they called Family Radio. Eventually he sold his construction business and went to work at the ministry as a full-time volunteer. (To this day he has never taken a salary.) In 1961, he began “Open Forum,” a live weeknight call-in show where he discussed questions about Christianity and the Bible.

    Family Radio now owns 140 radio stations in the U.S. and translates Camping’s show into dozens of foreign languages. Open Forum is broadcast internationally via shortwave and fans can also follow it live on the Family Radio web site (http://www.familyradio.com/).

    Camping’s career as a predictor of the Rapture began in 1992, when he announced to his radio audience that after a lifetime of intense study he had decoded secret numerical messages hidden throughout the King James Bible. The messages indicated that the Rapture would happen on September 6, 1994, and that shortly thereafter God would judge the world. Camping laid out his argument in a volume entitled 1994? The book became a brief media sensation, earning him an appearance on CNN’s Larry King Live.

    When the 1994 date came and went, Camping explained that he had made a slight miscalculation, and he spent the next few years working out new numbers. In due course, he settled on May 21, 2011 as the Rapture’s correct date, with the Last Judgment to follow on October 21.

    On New Year’s Day 2010, one of the first substantial articles to discuss Camping’s predictions, by Justin Berton of the San Francisco Chronicle, took a stab at explaining the calculations behind the dates, although as historian Paul Boyer later told the Washington Post’s Michael S. Rosenwald, Camping “seems to be the only one who understands the equation.”

    Initially, the story gained little traction. But things changed when some of Camping’s followers decided to get the message out themselves.

    That summer, a young Army veteran, Marie Exley of Colorado Springs, bought advertising space on 10 bus benches in her community to announce the Rapture date. Then she took Camping’s message on the road with a group of like-minded evangelists. Neither Family Radio nor Camping himself had anything to do with the initiative.

    As more and more of Camping’s followers found novel ways of announcing the coming End Times, journalists began to take note. In November 2010, Larry Mitchell of the Chico (Ca) Enterprise-Record reported that five “colorfully painted” RVs were parked at a local mall. Each bore the words: “Have you heard the awesome news? The end of the world is almost here. The Bible guarantees it. It begins on May 21, 2011.” The RVs had been caravanning throughout the Pacific Northwest.

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    The following month, religion reporter Bob Smietana informed readers of the Tennessean of the appearance of Rapture billboards in Nashville, paid for by “fans” of Family Radio. Then the AP picked up the story, reporting on billboards in a handful of other American cities. It was about that time that I stumbled upon some of Camping’s followers as they were distributing literature in a subway terminal in Manhattan. Later, I saw one of their billboards in rural northern Idaho where I was camping (not “Camping”) with my family.

    Christians throughout history have regularly grown obsessed with the End Times and the Second Coming of Jesus. Only rarely, however, do they set a precise date and dedicate themselves to preparing for it. The most famous example of a failed End Times prophecy in U.S. history occurred when a self-educated farmer named William Miller came to believe that Jesus would return sometime in 1843.

    Like Camping, Miller had innovative followers who spread his views throughout the country. When nothing happened, Miller’s followers recalculated, determining that October 2, 1844 was the correct date. Jesus’ failure to return then was dubbed by these “Adventists” as the “Great Disappointment.” Some of them went on to found the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

    Although most journalists focused exclusively on the contemporary scenario, a few did try to put the story into historical context by comparing Camping to Miller. In fact, the Oakland preacher’s predictions tapped into an interest in the imminent return of Christ that has been more or less constant feature of American evangelicalism since the 1880s.

    Billy Sunday, Aimee Semple McPherson, Billy Graham, and Jerry Falwell (to name just a few of the most prominent evangelical leaders) have all predicted that the Rapture was soon to come. The success of Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth in the 1970s and Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins’ Left Behind series in the 1990s testifies to the power of apocalyptic evangelicalism. In 2010, a Pew Research Center poll found that 41 percent of Americans believed that Jesus would return by 2040.

    But Camping differs from mainstream evangelicalism in important ways. He severed his membership with the Christian Reformed Church in 1988 and has long since abandoned traditional evangelical theology. His interpretations of Scripture are novel; his predictions, controversial.

    In fact, most of the coverage accurately noted that although Camping was rooted in American evangelicalism, he did not represent the movement. Jill Mahoney of the Toronto Globe and Mail used the strongest language, describing Family Radio as “a fringe group” and an “extremist” organization. Nevertheless, evangelical blogs repeatedly complained that journalists were using Camping to embarrass all conservative Christians. Tim LaHaye himself told the Washington Post’s Rosenwald that Camping was lucky he was not living in Old Testament times, where the punishment for false prophecy was stoning.

    As the predicted day approached, Camping’s followers spent vast sums of money on tracts, billboards, benches, and RVs to advertise their message. By May, they had printed over 100 million pamphlets in 61 languages and raised 5,500 billboards in the U.S. and abroad.

    Journalists responded in turn with increased coverage—mostly brief explanations of Camping’s views juxtaposed with responses from skeptics. Little space was devoted to the Camping ministry or the history that gave rise to it.

    There were exceptions. As the Rapture date approached, the Washington Post ran pieces by Rosenwald and Kimberly Winston that, with the help of leading scholars, put Camping into a larger historical and sociological context. New York magazine also provided thorough coverage, running Dan Amira’s interview with Camping in May and a long, thoughtful analytical story by Dan P. Lee in October.

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    But no one spent a lot of time on Camping’s followers. Although many articles included brief profiles of one or two of the faithful, they provided little overall sense of exactly who these men and women were.

    In the most extensive report on the followers, in the New York Times May 19, Ashley Parker focused on the economic and emotional costs to families preparing for the Rapture. Parker also documented the risky financial decisions made by those who had budgeted all of their money to last until exactly May 21. In a post-“Rapture” report on NPR May 23, Barbara Bradley-Hagerty summarized his followers as “a pretty eclectic group”—teachers, authors, military people, federal workers, and businessmen.

    Skeptics did wonder if Camping was playing on the fears of his followers for personal financial gain, but there was no evidence of this. In 2009, he had actually loaned the ministry $175,516, according to an IRS document obtained by the New York Times. Journalists consistently concluded that Camping was a sincere man living a humble life, even if he was sincerely wrong.

    In every interview with reporters as well as on his radio program, Camping expressed no doubts whatsoever about what was going to happen. He explained that Christians would experience a rolling Rapture that would start near 6 p.m. in the South Pacific and then move west around the globe. That meant that his followers in California would be able to watch the event on their televisions as it approached them from earlier time zones.

    On May 21, cable news as well as print and Internet media followed the story closely. Camping stories shot to the top of the “most read” and “most e-mailed” lists on some of the nation’s largest news websites.

    The New Republic’s Tiffany Stanley, trying to make sense of the intense interest, insightfully concluded that “many of us are intrigued voyeurs, gleeful in knowing the exact day when these people will experience their life’s greatest disappointment. We feel superior, knowing that even though they told us we were heading for death and destruction, now, they get theirs.” But then she turned the table on her readers. “We might ask ourselves not what is wrong with this sad group of apocalyptic believers, but rather what is wrong with a society that takes such pleasure in their dysfunction.”

    In the aftermath, a lot of critics complained that the media had given an obscure group living on the religious margins too much attention. But NPR’s Bradley-Hagerty wisely explained, “There are billboards everywhere, there are caravans everywhere, people are handing out pamphlets. It’s a news story. It’s a religion news story, and I think I would not be doing my job if I wasn’t reporting on this.”

    Although the Rapture did not take place, Camping stuck by his calculations. He admitted that it had been a “tough” weekend and that he had been partially mistaken. He had expected the Rapture to be physical; instead, a spiritual judgment had occurred.

    In June, he suffered a stroke. As he recovered, he reiterated his commitment to October 21 as the date the world would end—but to the surprise of New York magazine’s Dan P. Lee, now used the world “probably.”

    Come the fall, lightning did not strike twice. No followers put up billboards or benches, or toured the country in RVs. And the predictions received far less media attention.

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    When the apocalypse once again failed to materialize, Camping apologized in a five-minute recording posted on his website. He also vowed to continue studying the Bible in order to work out the correct numbers. He still believes that he will get the math—and the Rapture date—right.

    Only after the second failed Apocalypse and the apology did a major paper finally run an opinion piece that made full historical sense of Camping’s movement. In a smart op-ed in the November 6 Los Angeles Times, medieval historian Jay Rubenstein showed how it fit into 1,000 years of millenarian expectations. “Hope for doomsday,” Rubenstein wryly noted, “springs eternal.”

    Not for Camping himself, however, In his ministry’s “March 2012” letter, Camping announced that his previous prediction was an “incorrect and sinful statement,” and, amidst a bevy of profound apologies, said that he would be refraining from making any further predictions. “We have learned the very painful lesson that all of creation is in God’s hands and he will end time in his time, not ours!”

    Yet only a few of those who hope for doomsday have been willing to accept Rapture dates, quit their jobs, and disburse their worldly possessions. End Times 2011 was one of only a few such episodes in Western history. How to explain it?The global economic recession—to say nothing of the decade-long U.S. “war on terror” and a series of natural disasters—had perhaps convinced many Christians that they were living in the Last Days. And while we do not have any data on the politics of Camping’s followers, his own social and moral outlook is conventionally conservative.

    On the evangelical fringe, President Obama has been regarded as a forerunner of the Antichrist if not the Antichrist himself. It is not improbable that, for at least some of the Camping faithful, the predicted Rapture fit into an End Times scenario that had the nation’s first black leader—and suspected foreign-born Muslim—at its center.

    We may hope that students of new religious movements are even now at work interviewing Camping’s followers to understand how they came to be convinced by an old man’s math to buy the billboards and drive the RVs and prepare themselves for Armageddon. And we will want to know how they are doing now—now that they have experienced their own Great Disappointment.

    Will they fade quickly into the great American mainstream? Or will these Campingites, like the Millerites of yore, gather together and form themselves into a new denomination of Adventists?


  11. Apocalypse Soon: Why Are Christians So Obsessed With the End Times?

    By Adam Lee, AlterNet April 23, 2012

    In the summer of 2010, I saw him several times a week: a portly gentleman, leaning against a pillar in Penn Station and holding out two fistfuls of pamphlets to the disinterested commuters. He wore glasses and earbuds connected to an MP3 player in his coat pocket, and always had a serene, almost bored expression that was in sharp contrast to the urgency of his message:

    He was one of the devotees of Harold Camping, a formerly obscure Christian preacher who started making headlines in 2009, when he announced his discovery of a numerological code hidden in the Bible that foretold the exact date of the end of the world. As the appointed date grew nearer, Camping's devotees became increasingly zealous in their race to get the message out. In addition to their leafletting volunteers, I saw billboards and subway ads. Their Web site had a form you could fill out to request free literature, bumperstickers and desk calendars for 2011 that ended the third week of May.

    One day, I stopped for a brief chat with the fellow.

    "May 2011," I observed. "That's soon."

    "Uh-huh," he said, uncertain whether I was making fun of him.

    "What happens on that day?" I asked.

    "The universe will cease to exist," he explained, as calm as if he were delivering a weather forecast. (I have to admit, I was hoping for something more dramatic: boiling oceans, rains of fire, rivers turned to blood, that sort of thing.)

    "What happens if that date comes and you're still here?" I persisted.

    "I'll be in big trouble," he said calmly.

    I wanted to correspond with him, but when I asked him for his e-mail address, he refused. "This is just the way I live now," he said. I don't know if that meant he had divested himself of worldly possessions like computers to prepare for the Rapture, or if his literature-distributing schedule was so hectic it left no time for e-mail.

    Obviously, May 21, 2011 came and went without incident. Camping was at first unfazed, announcing that it was a "spiritual" judgment day, and that the real, visible apocalypse would actually happen on October 21. But when that date too passed with nothing out of the ordinary transpiring, a "flabbergasted" Camping was finally forced to confess that he had blundered. Soon afterward he retired from ministry, though he never offered to reimburse the volunteers who wasted their time and money spreading his phony predictions.

    So ends the tale of Harold Camping. But he wasn't just a lone kook crying in the wilderness. On the contrary, he was just one of the latest in a long line of Christian preachers who've made a profitable career out of erroneously predicting the end of the world. Some, like Camping, made one of the few fatal errors in religion: they tied their faith to a definitive test by predicting an exact date. Others, more cynical, are content to constantly hint that Armageddon is right around the corner, but without ever committing to a date.

    As an example of the latter, the evangelical megachurch pastor David Jeremiah, in his book What In the World Is Going On? speaks of the imminent Armageddon as "a belief I have taught consistently for more than thirty years," and doesn't seem to find anything incongruous about this. The Christian author John Walvoord wrote apocalypse books throughout the 20th century, periodically reissuing them with updates as needed to accommodate current world events. Then there's Hal Lindsay, who in the 1970s made a sensation with books like The Late Great Planet Earth and The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon ("The decade of the 1980s could very well be the last decade of history as we know it," he announces).

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    Moving further back in time, another Christian sect that's made a habit of erroneously predicting the end of the world is the Jehovah's Witnesses. In 1920, J.F. Rutherford, the Watchtower Society's second president and one of its founding members, published a book titled Millions Now Living Will Never Die, which forecast the arrival of God's kingdom within a few years. In it, Rutherford prognosticated:

    ...since other Scriptures definitely fix the fact that there will be a resurrection of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and other faithful ones of old, and that these will have the first favor, we may expect 1925 to witness the return of these faithful men of Israel from the condition of death, being resurrected and fully restored to perfect humanity and made the visible, legal representatives of the new order of things on earth.

    Ironically, the Jehovah's Witnesses have their origins in yet another American sect that became famous for a failed apocalypse prediction: the Millerites, named after their founder William Miller.

    Miller was born in 1782, served as an army captain in the War of 1812, and like Harold Camping 200 years later, came to believe the chronology of the end of the world could be pieced together by decoding hidden messages in verses scattered throughout the Bible. At its height, the Millerite cult had thousands of members nationwide. Miller and his followers triumphantly forecast October 22, 1844 as the date of the Second Coming, and when that date passed without incident, it became known as the "Great Disappointment." Several disillusioned former Millerites went on to found splinter groups that still exist today, including the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Seventh-Day Adventists.

    Just to show that apocalyptic expectation isn't a modern phenomenon, here's one more quote. This one is from the witch-hunting colonial preacher Cotton Mather, who wrote in 1692 to confidently predict the imminence of the "Millennium," the 1,000-year era in which Jesus would physically reign over the Earth after triumphing in the Battle of Armageddon:

    "If the Devil's Time were above a thousand years ago, pronounced short, what may we suppose it now in our Time? Surely we are not a thousand years distant from those happy thousand years of rest and peace and (which is better) Holiness reserved for the People of God in the latter days; and if we are not a thousand years yet short of that Golden Age, there is cause to think, that we are not an hundred."

    If you're getting the impression that Christians are more apt than members of other religions to see Armageddon just around the corner, you're right. The perpetual apocalyptic expectation of Christianity has its roots in the New Testament, whose authors, like every subsequent generation of Christians, expected the end of the world to come within their own lifetimes.

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    For example, here's St. Paul saying that his contemporaries who were married should abstain from sex from then on, so that they could be as pure as possible and ready to meet Jesus when he returned:

    "What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away." --1 Corinthians 7:29-31 (NIV)

    And in the epistle attributed to St. Peter:

    "But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer." --1 Peter 4:7 (KJV)

    And from one attributed to the apostle John:

    "Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time." --1 John 2:18 (KJV)

    Even Jesus gets in on the act, telling his contemporaries that he'll return before they all die:

    "And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power." --Mark 9:1 (KJV)

    In another verse, he seems to set the deadline even sooner by telling his disciples that he'll return before they can even evangelize all the cities of Israel:

    "When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes." --Matthew 10:23 (NIV)

    These prophecies all failed, of course. Two thousand years later, life continues as it always has, and the authors of these fearful predictions have long since turned to dust. What's remarkable is that, as each generation of Christians passes away, the apocalyptic torch is eagerly picked up by the next generation, which echoes their predecessors' warnings without a trace of awareness that they're recycling claims that have failed many times already.

    Given their unbroken track record of failure, it's easy to make fun of apocalypse believers, to mock them for being so gullible and foolish. But these ideas have very real human costs. Millennial fever often flourishes during times of great social upheaval and uncertainty, among people whose lives are so impoverished that they want to escape this world and live in a better one. And it inevitably happens that some of those people squander what little they do have in chasing this mirage.

    After his deadline came and went, I never again saw the fellow I chatted with in Penn Station. But the rapture ads I saw on the NYC subway, I later learned, were funded by an elderly Camping follower who emptied his retirement savings to pay for them. There were other stories aboutworking people and parents who quit their jobs in the middle of an economic downturn to spend all their time spreading Camping's message, families that were splintered by arguments over who was or wasn't going to get into heaven when the trumpet blows. Other rapture-manias throughout history have drawn similar devotion, and when those prophecies inevitably fail, it's the humiliated faithful who are left to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.

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  14. Beyond this harm, apocalypse belief instills in its devotees a constant state of subdued terror, encouraging them to fear that the world may end at any moment and that they won't be numbered among the worthy when it does. Many accounts of believers and ex-believers testify to this nagging fear, describing how they repented and answered altar calls dozens of times, each time fearing that they may have had some secret sin that caused the last repentance not to take, and it's best to do it again just in case. Others speak of how their religious belief made their lives empty and joyless, how they were so consumed with anticipation of God's perfect kingdom arriving that reality seemed dull and lifeless by comparison.

    But the worst consequence of apocalypse belief isn't the waste, nor is it the fear. It's the insidious attitude that since God is coming soon to destroy the world entirely, it doesn't matter what we do to it in the meantime. It's this belief that has so often made fundamentalists an obstacle to averting disastrous climate change, to preserving vanishing wilderness, or to making human civilization more sustainable. Not only do they not participate in these efforts, they actively oppose them, asserting that any political platform which starts from the premise that the Earth will be around for millions of years is a Satanic lie meant to keep us from heeding the warnings about God's imminent destruction of the world.

    For example, here's Christian pastor John MacArthur:

    "The environmental movement is consumed with trying to preserve the planet forever. But we know that isn't in God's plan. The earth we inhabit is not a permanent planet. It is, frankly, a disposable planet -- it is going to have a very short life. It's been around six thousand years or so -- that's all -- and it may last a few thousand more. And then the Lord is going to destroy it. I've told environmentalists that if they think humanity is wrecking the planet, wait until they see what Jesus does to it. ...This earth was never ever intended to be a permanent planet -- it is not eternal. We do not have to worry about it being around tens of thousands, or millions, of years from now because God is going to create a new heaven and a new earth."

    It would be comforting to think that beliefs like this are only held by an insignificant minority of kooks, but that isn't the case. As recently as 2007, a poll found that 25 percent of Americans subscribe to end-times beliefs: that's one in four people who, presumably, make major life decisions and cast their votes on the basis of a faith that the world will end in the very near future.

    There's no easy solution to this problem. The apocalypse-sooners are motivated by a fervent faith which, by definition, is immune to contrary evidence. Their beliefs effectively pen them on both sides, seducing them with the promise of unimaginable reward if they stay faithful, herding them with the promise of unimaginable suffering if they fall into doubt.

    But whether we can convince them or not, we can demonstrate that their beliefs are incredibly dangerous and destructive -- to human lives, to well-being and to the world itself. Too many people are passive in the face of fundamentalism because they labor under the misconception that religious beliefs are benign at best, neutral at worst. A more engaged progressive opposition would go a long way toward limiting the influence of the righteous warriors who just can't wait to see the planet destroyed.


  15. The time is finished: Religious sect erects billboards in Toronto ahead of the transformation

    by Armina Ligaya, National Post Staff May 1, 2012

    ST. CATHARINES, ONT. — Doris Rosado watches her teenage daughters, Ninette and Kiara Mongrut, get the numbers “666” tattooed on their wrists, beaming with pride. The number typically conjures up biblical symbolism tied to the Antichrist, but this St. Catharines, Ont., family belongs to a obscure Christian sect for which “666” is a positive symbol of their group’s messianic leader.

    “They wanted to do it,” Ms. Rosado, 45, said at the St. Catharines tattoo parlour where her daughters were inked. “But now it’s more important because we’re counting down… I’m so proud.”

    For this family, and other members of Growing in Grace International, these tattoos are a way of demonstrating their faith as true believers of Jose de Luis de Jesus — who they fervently believe is the second coming of Jesus Christ — before a day of reckoning they believe will wipe out most of humanity.

    The group, which they say has branches in five Canadian cities and members in more than 130 countries, believes that on June 30 (or July 1 across the international dateline), their Texas-based leader and his followers will be transformed, said Alex Poessy, the group’s bishop in Canada.

    To spread the word, Growing in Grace put up billboards in Toronto this week featuring Mr. de Jesus.

    “That day, the body of Jose de Luis de Jesus, who is a human like you and me, his flesh is going to be immortal…. He’s going to be living forever. And that will happen to him, but also his followers.”

    But, said Mr. Poessy: “All those that are not believers are going to be destroyed.”

    Growing in Grace International is not the first to prognosticate that the so-called end of the world will come this year. The Mayan calendar famously picks Dec. 21, 2012.

    But Mr. de Jesus also predicts that the “transformation” will endow him, and his loyal followers, with superpowers, such as the ability to fly and walk through walls, said Axel Cooley, the bishop’s daughter.

    “[We can] run and not get tired. Go through fire and not get burned…. I could be talking to you right now, and then I could go through that wall. So, you’ll know there is a difference,” Cooley said.

    The global economy will collapse as currency markets “fail” and governments around the world will be forced to resign. These predictions are based on biblical passages, she adds.

    “The world’s not going to end. What is going to end is the system…. All the governments and the currencies will fall. The new government of the 666 will take over,” she said.

    The group’s billboards feature a picture of Mr. de Jesus, with such messages as “666, number of wisdom” or “Countdown to the transformation June 30, 2012.” The group is eyeing billboard locations in Ottawa and Kitchener as well, she said. Growing in Grace has also put up billboards in at least 10 countries, including the U.S., Brazil and Puerto Rico, Ms. Cooley said.

    Mr. de Jesus, whom followers lovingly call “Dad,” had a vision in 1973 while living in Massachusetts of two angels coming to him. “The body of Christ manifested in Jose de Luis de Jesus, and all of a sudden, that’s when he knew,” Ms. Cooley said.

    By 1986, he founded Growing in Grace, or Cresciendo en Gracia, in 1986 in Puerto Rico. His teachings are based on the writings of the Apostle Paul, Ms. Cooley says.

    The group has come under fire and accused of being a cult.

    Regina Albarracin of Pembroke Pines, Fla., whose son Alvaro became estranged from his family after he joined Growing in Grace, said its members are “brainwashed.”

    “They’re stupid people who believe in stupidities,” she told the Miami New Times in 2006. “They’re like those people in Waco, Texas. When you go there, you get brainwashed.”

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    Questions have also been raised about the funds flowing from followers into Growing in Grace’s coffers.

    The church had been paying $144,000 a year in alimony to de Jesus’ first wife, considering it part of his salary, according to a 2007 article in the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. Also, donations from followers in Colombia went to a Colombian bank account in Jose Luis de Jesus’ name, the Sun-Sentinel reported. De Jesus said the Colombian bishop controlled the money earmarked for churches there. However, he also said some of the money went to de Jesus’ wife, including about $60,000 for a condominium.

    Canadian member Ana Guevara, 20, brushes the cult claims off.

    “All our lives have been enriched with this…. If we were a cult, then I guess we’re a pretty awesome cult. Because it’s teaching you how to live happy. How to live in a good mood,” says Ms. Guevara, whose family is also part of Growing in Grace.

    The group has roughly 200 members in Canada, including branches in Toronto, St. Catharines, Montreal and Calgary. Its newest branch is in Vancouver, which officially opened in March, Mr. Poessy said.

    Ontario Growing in Grace members congregate in hotel conference rooms for what they call “tracings.” During a tracing in January in Niagara Falls, a few dozen members sat in rows of padded chairs facing a screen. The sermon-like Spanish broadcast was streamed live online, beaming in images from other members’ gatherings around the world. Members listened to speakers and sang along with the hymns.

    “We’re the ones who will live eternally,” they sang in Spanish.

    Usually, Mr. de Jesus addresses his followers during the tracings. But on April 22, his 66th birthday, he gave his last speech before retreating from public view.

    In a video posted on YouTube and on their website, cegenglish.com, Mr. de Jesus called for his followers to enter into the final countdown until, he says, their government will come into power. “A government where we will govern everything with a perfect order. This is my last farewell for you. The time is finished… We will see each other soon in Armageddon.”
    Dr. Lorne Dawson, a University of Waterloo sociologist and religious studies professor who specializes in new religious movements, says that when a religious group sets a deadline, it is a sign that the “movement is starting to run into trouble.”

    “It’s a strong indicator that their authority is slipping, they’re losing followers, not acquiring followers at a level that they used to … and nothing galvanizes a group and galvanizes attention like a new mention of an apocalypse.”

    Last year, California preacher and evangelical broadcaster Harold Camping infamously said that the world would end on May 21, 2011. When the day passed without incident — after many of his followers sold off all their belongings — Mr. Camping apologized for the faulty predictions, and subsequently retired.
    Jehovah’s Witnesses have prophesied that the world would end eight times, as recently as 1975. The Church Universal and Triumphant, a new age religious group from the U.S., forecast that nuclear war would strike in 1990, says Dr. Dawson.

    Even after their prophecies failed, such groups continued to survive at a similar level, or become even stronger, he said. “The leader will quickly come up with an explanation, rationalize, and that rationalization will be spread quickly to all of the membership … and gear them up for another prophecy down the line,” Dr. Dawson said.

    Common explanations include blaming the members who doubted, or that the prophecy happened on another spiritual plane, he added.

    Growing in Grace members, however, insist their prediction will come true, and their transformation is on its way.

    They cite recent erratic weather patterns and global economic woes as signs that change is afoot.

    “We are sure that it’s going to happen,” said Mr. Poessy.


  17. Apocalypse soon? 9 percent of Canadians say the world will end in 2012

    Sheila Dabu Nonato, Postmedia News May 2, 2012

    Seems a lot of people think the end is indeed, nigh.

    One in 10 people around the world, including 9% of Canadians, may be readying their bucket list this year, saying they believe the “end of the world” will come at the end of 2012, according to the results of a global survey.

    China topped the list of end-times believers at 20%, followed by several countries at 13%, including Mexico, Turkey and the U.S., according to the findings of an Ipsos Reid survey conducted on behalf of the Reuters news agency and released Tuesday. Canada ranked 15th of 21 countries surveyed.

    “Canadians are less superstitious compared to others, but they’re not far behind,” Keren Gottfried, research manager at Ipsos Reid, told Postmedia News.

    Gottfried said the general trend around the world, including Canada, is that people who are younger and those in the lower income-level bracket are “more likely to believe in the end of the world.”

    Overall, 4% of those polled around the world said they “strongly” agree and 10% said they “somewhat” agree that “the world will come to an end during my lifetime,” while 86% of those polled disagreed.

    Turkey and the U.S. (22%) reported the highest numbers of those who agreed that the world is coming to an end during their lifetime, followed by South Africa (21%), Argentina, Mexico and Indonesia (19%).

    Part of the global anxiety is rooted in superstitions surrounding the Mayan calendar, which was used by the ancient Mayan civilization and ends in December 2012.

    Some believe this marks the end times, while some experts have said it refers to the end of an era in the calendar, not an apocalypse.

    The survey said 10% of respondents in 21 countries believe in the Mayan calendar “prophecy,” with China topping the poll at 20%, followed by Turkey, Russia, Mexico, South Korea and Japan at 13%, while Argentina, Hungary, Poland and the U.S. polled at 12%.Meanwhile, Canadian respondents ranked near the bottom of the list at 9%, ranking 15th on the list. Germany and Indonesia tied for last at 4%.

    The study also found that these beliefs are increasing the anxiety level of 8% of those surveyed who said they “have been experiencing anxiety or fear because the world is going to end in 2012.”

    Canadian respondents were among the “least likely to agree” at 5%, compared with Russia (14%), Poland (13%) and China (12%).

    An international sample of 16,262 adults aged 18 to 64 in Canada and the U.S. and adults aged 16 to 64 in 19 other countries was interviewed between March 6 and March 20.

    The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points in countries where 1,000 or more people were surveyed, and plus or minus 4.5 percentage points in countries where 500 or more people were surveyed, 19 times out of 20.


  18. We are still waiting: Blue skies, not Armageddon, greeted Christian sect Sunday

    by Armina Ligaya, National Post Staff July 3, 2012

    KITCHENER — A Christian sect with hundreds of followers in Canada that had proclaimed Armageddon would strike over the weekend was met with a picture-perfect Canada Day and left waiting for their prognosticated superhuman-powers to kick in.

    Growing in Grace, also known as Creciendo en Gracia, predicted that its Texas-based leader Jose Luis de Jesus, would “transform” into an immortal being, while non-believers and roughly two-thirds of the world’s population would be destroyed on June 30 (or July 1, depending on the time zone).

    The group predicted Mr. de Jesus — whom they believe is the second coming of Christ — and his followers would also be bestowed with special abilities such as walking through walls and flying, while religious institutions such as the Vatican and the world’s financial systems would be wiped out.

    But Monday, the global economy continued churning, the Holy See appeared intact and there was no sign of a major global disaster.

    When reached in Kitchener on Sunday afternoon, the group’s Canadian bishop Alex Poessy would not answer many questions, but said their transformation had not yet come to pass.

    “Well, we are still waiting for that,” he said.

    However, Mr. Poessy said he believed their leader, Mr. de Jesus, had transformed — but he didn’t see it. “He did transform, that is my understanding,” he said, adding that the group was “really happy.”

    His wife, Ileana Poessy, said the followers’ transformation and world devastation would come, eventually.

    “We don’t know when…. He’s the boss,” she said, pointing upward.

    “[Transformation] is going to come for us for sure,” she added, warning it was too late for others to be saved.

    Just two weeks ago, the group sent out a press release warning that the “Earth is about to fill with cadavers: 66.6% of world population to be removed” by June 30.

    Growing in Grace also put up billboards in at least 10 countries, including Canada, U.S., Brazil and Puerto Rico, in recent months warning of the upcoming transformation.

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    Growing in Grace believes that “666” is a positive symbol of its messianic leader, and many had the numbers tattooed on their bodies to show they are among the chosen on the day of reckoning.

    Mr. de Jesus founded the group in 1986 in Puerto Rico. It now boasts that it has 200 members across five Canadian cities and in more than 130 countries.

    The teachings are based on the writings of St. Paul, the group says.

    But Growing in Grace has been accused in the past of being a cult, which members say is untrue.

    The group’s official website cegenglish.com now diverts to its YouTube channel, where a video posted on June 30 shows footage of Mr. de Jesus.

    “Today, He governs the world with an immortal body,” the voiceover says. “The day has arrived. The countdown has come to an end. The era of the immortal beings, the ‘666,’ begins.”

    Growing in Grace is not the first to set a deadline for the so-called end of the world.

    Last year, California preacher and evangelical broadcaster Harold Camping said the world would end on May 21, 2011. After the day passed without incident — after many of his followers sold off all their belongings — Mr. Camping apologized for the faulty predictions and subsequently retired.

    Another D-day looms as well — the Mayan calendar picks Dec. 21, 2012.

    Still, even when prophecies fail, these groups continue to exist and even thrive, said Lorne Dawson, a University of Waterloo sociologist and religious studies professor who specializes in new religious movements.

    Setting a date energizes a religious movement and helps recruit new members, he said in a May interview. When the evidence clearly contradicts their prophecy, members will change the way they interpret the world “as to not face the reality of the defeat,” Mr. Dawson said.

    “The leader will quickly come up with an explanation, rationalize, and that rationalization will be spread quickly to all of the membership … and gear them up for another prophecy down the line,” Mr. Dawson said.


  20. Shots fired as police swoop 10 minutes before 100 followers of Brazilian doomsday cult were due to commit mass suicide over end of the world

    By CRAIG MACKENZIE, Daily Mail UK October 12, 2012

    Police swooped on a Brazilian doomsday cult just 10 minutes before more than 100 followers were about to commit mass suicide by drinking poisoned soup

    Elite troops burst into a building where self-proclaimed prophet Luis Pereira dos Santos had barricaded himself in after predicting the world would end at 8pm yesterday.

    There was believed to be an exchange of gunfire between the group and police who used gas bombs and pepper spray during the assault. No casualties have been reported.

    Santos was arrested as officers took away a tub containing a sweet paste made from Caju fruit which they suspected contained a toxic product.

    The night before 19 children were rescued from the building on the outskirts of Teresina, the capital of the country's northeastern state of Piaui.

    Police forced their way in after receiving 'credible' information of a suicide pact.

    The stand-off began at 3pm local time - an hour before the predicted apocalypse - when 60 military and police officers surrounded the house.

    One of the followers, Maria Silva, 57, came out to tell the crowd that 'Jesus Christ is in the body of the prophet' and that no-one would be allowed in or out the residence.

    Desperate relatives of those inside tried to invade the building to take their loved ones out. Maria Madalena, 39, told Brazil's Cidade Verde website: 'We want to get my mother out while there is still time. This man has messed up her head, it's like she's been brainwashed.'

    Authorities kept a close watch on the children placed in care homes over fears they had been instructed to take their own lives at the same time.

    During the operation, a 'significant quantity' of rat poison was found at the residence, a police spokesman said.

    After the raid, military police commander Alberto Meneses said: 'This was an unusual situation, because when religion is involved everything is possible and nothing is predictable.'
    Santos, known to his flock as Daddy Luis, had claimed an angel visited four years ago telling him the exact time the world was going to end.

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    Last month, the 43-year-old spiritual leader instructed his 113 followers to leave their jobs, give away all their possessions and take their children out of school, police confirmed.

    The end of the world was predicted on a public holiday in Brazil, the feast day of the country's patron saint Our Lady of Aparecida, as well as national Children's Day.

    Although the group didn't put up any resistance, one of the cult members, Maria Francisca Alves, 38, whose 12-year-old daughter was taken away by police, protested the action.

    Asked why she had taken her daughter out of school, she said: 'We're preparing for the end of the world, so what's the point of studying? Learning the word of God is more important.'

    Children's judge Maria Luiza de Moura, who issued the protection order, said: 'We believe that a mass suicide or murder may happen using a soup ingested by cult members.

    'The adults are free to act of their free and spontaneous will, but we have to make sure that nothing happens to the children.'

    The police chief leading the investigation, Joatan Goncalves, said: 'Our worry is if there are offered a toxic product claiming to offer salvation on Friday.'

    In an interview with Brazil's Terra website, divorced father-of-five Santos, a former caretaker, said he didn't fear the police and denied that the group were planning to drink poison.

    He said: 'I preach the gospel and it says thou shalt no kill. We will be saved and raptured in another way.'

    The former Catholic said most of his followers are former street beggars, prostitutes, drug dealers and criminals which God had told him to 'save'.

    He said: 'I received a message telling me to be a shepherd to lost sheep. I am Christ's advocate. From Friday night there will be only darkness, because the beast will come out of the abyss and the world will end.

    'People call me crazy, even my wife abandoned me, but I am sure that there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth and the good people will be taken away.'

    After Santos was arrested, police occupied the building where the rest of the cult members remain.

    The largest recorded cult suicide was in 1978 when People's Temple leader Jim Jones inspired 918 of his followers to kill themselves in Guyana by drinking cyanide.

    From 1994 to 1997, members of the Order of the Solar Temple sect began a series of mass suicides, which lead to around 74 deaths.

    In 1997, 39 followers of the Heaven's Gate cult died in a mass suicide in Rancho Santa Fe, California, believing their souls would journey aboard a spaceship they believed to be following the Hale-Bopp comet.


  22. End of the line for Christian radio network that predicted 2011 rapture

    By Matthias Gafni, Contra Costa Times May 12, 2013

    Two days before the date his boss had predicted as the Apocalypse, Matt Tuter made an auspicious decision: He canceled the skywriters.

    Family Radio, the Oakland-based evangelical network run by Harold Camping, had already spent more than $5 million on 5,000 billboards announcing Judgment Day — May 21, 2011 — according to tax documents. Now, Tuter said, he feared that the airplanes, which were to inscribe the warnings in the skies above major U.S. cities, were one expense too many for a business operating as if there really would be no tomorrow.

    Two years later, Camping's predictive powers have been thoroughly discredited. But the financial reckoning that Tuter foresaw for Family Radio may be coming soon, according to public financial documents and current and former high-level Family Radio employees who spoke to this newspaper.

    Among the indicators:

    --The nonprofit has sold its three largest radio stations, all cash generators.

    --At the start of 2007, Family Radio was worth $135 million, according to its tax returns, and by the end of 2011 its net assets had dropped to $29.2 million, even though Family Radio received $85.2 million in donations over that five-year period.

    --By the end of 2011, Family Radio reported $282,880 in cash on hand, down from $1.5 million at the start of the year and $2.5 million at the end of 2008. In 2012, records show it took out a $30 million bridge loan to keep operating while awaiting the station sales proceeds; it is not clear whether that loan has been paid off.

    Former and current insiders allege the situation may be even worse than it appears, claiming donations have dropped almost 70 percent since the Rapture prediction proved incorrect, leading to numerous layoffs of longtime Family Radio staff members. Those insiders say the nonprofit mishandled the sales of the stations, reaping far less than they were worth, and is on the hook for millions of dollars to devotees who have loaned them money over the years. Since the failed prediction, at least two letters have been sent to the California Attorney General's Office requesting an investigation into the station sales and Family Radio's handling of donations. The office does not confirm or deny investigations.

    "You eliminate those three (FM stations) and, ultimately, the rest of it dies," said Tuter, a 55-year-old San Leandro, Calif., resident and longtime right-hand man to Camping, who was fired last year. "I believe they are killing it off."

    Not everyone predicts Family Radio's demise, however. Board member Tom Evans, who has taken over day-to-day operations since Camping suffered a stroke in June 2011, said Family

    Radio is hurting like any other nonprofit in this slow-to-rebound economy. But it is not closing, and the financial problems aren't nearly as serious as some allege, said the trustee, who instead envisions a downsized, more efficient ministry emerging.
    "Sufficient funds were in the bank and, thankfully, we didn't spend everything (on May 21, 2011)," he said. "But it did force us to make quick changes."

    At least some of those changes had an air of desperation: In a November letter to his followers posted on the Family Radio website, Camping wrote: "Either we sell (our biggest radio station) or go off the air completely." And Evans acknowledged the bridge loans, while insisting the nonprofit is not insolvent.

    Camping, who hasn't been able to conduct his "Open Forum" radio show since suffering his stroke, still shows up for work and is involved in the nonprofit's operations, Evans said. The 91-year-old president was not available to comment for this story.

    Tuter says Camping had long been telling him that when he dies, he wants the Oakland-based nonprofit to die with him. The ailing evangelist may get his wish.

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  23. The demise?

    Family Radio, founded more than a half-century ago, built itself into a powerful religious ministry with 66 full-service radio stations, more than 100 FM broadcast relay stations and a handful of television stations across the country. Fourteen shortwave transmitters allowed broadcasts to Africa, Russia and elsewhere in the world.

    Its stations had no commercials, providing 24-hour, seven-days-a-week Christian programming in 30 languages — including hymns, Bible teachings and gospel talk shows — with Camping's "Open Forum" program airing every weeknight for 90 minutes. The nonprofit paid its bills through donors' philanthropy, amassing $216.4 million in donations from 1997 through 2011, according to tax returns (2012 totals are not yet available). On its website and during broadcasts, listeners were told how to donate.

    Camping became more engrossed with predictions of Judgment Day as the years passed, espousing multiple possibilities before ultimately focusing on May 21, 2011, as the highly publicized date. Contributions spiked, with stories surfacing across the country of followers donating their life savings, as Family Radio spent prodigiously to publicize the end of the world. Evans said it was a "buyer beware" scenario.

    "We spent a significant amount and we didn't hide it. We were very open and the whole world knew what we were doing," Evans said. "None of us have any regrets." However, Evans said, in some cases where donors could show financial hardship, Family Radio has reimbursed up to half the value of their contributions.

    The free spending before May 21 combined with the drop in donations thereafter has left a shell of a nonprofit two years later. Earlier this year, Family Radio sold the last of its three powerhouse East Coast FM stations — WFME in Newark-New York City, WFSI in Annapolis, Md.-Washington, D.C., and WKDN in Philadelphia — the nonprofit's cash cows. The New York station was sold to Cumulus Media in January for $40 million, the Philadelphia station went the previous month for $22.5 million to Merlin Media, and the Annapolis station was sold to CBS in November for $8.5 million.

    Family Radio kept most of its significantly smaller radio stations and other assets — even buying some smaller stations — but has trimmed the on-air staff and cut its international schedule by 80 percent, sources said.

    The programming remains similar, although they run only edited repeats of Camping's "Open Forum," with occasional brief live Bible study lessons by the founder. Still, in November, Family Radio posted a special message from Camping on its website about the WFME sale:

    "Many listeners have heard news of this sale and are very concerned that it signals the demise of Family Radio. But, let me reassure you — nothing could be further from the truth."

    The critics

    But some observers say the sale of the big three stations — especially WFME, which served 14 million listeners — is a disaster for the network.

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  24. Each of the stations was sold to a secular operator. Evans acknowledged Camping had a long-standing policy against selling radio stations to other religious organizations, saying such sales would "create confusion." But after these sales, Evans said, the board voted to reverse the policy — with Camping's blessing.

    To replace the FM stations sold, Evans said, Family Radio picked up AM stations, including Philadelphia's WKDN 950 AM. But critics call the AM station a "dog" with coverage problems and high overhead costs.

    Another challenge for Family Radio is that over the years it has taken a large number of loans — one estimate puts the amount at $22 million — from devotees, exchanging them for promissory notes that pledge to use the money to "proclaim the gospel of the Lord."

    On its 2011 tax return, Family Radio lists $35.1 million in liabilities, but does not specify how much is owed toward the promissory notes. Evans would not say. However, he said, "The biggest concern of Harold and the rest of the board, if Family Radio went out of business, would be to pay off the promissory note holders."

    While some critics are surprised there have not been lawsuits or more complaints, others are not. "People that follow religious groups think it's almost an affront against God to file a lawsuit or ask for their money back," said a longtime Family Radio manager, who requested anonymity fearing repercussions at work. "Bernie Madoff should have become ordained and made his operation a nonprofit and he probably would have gotten away with it."

    Since the Rapture prediction flamed out, a religious freedom group and a part-time Family Radio employee wrote the California Attorney General's Office requesting a fraud investigation into Family Radio's handling of donations. Evans said the complaints were unfounded.

    Meanwhile, Tuter — Camping's former top assistant — believes his ex-boss is running the ministry into the ground on purpose.

    In 1996, about a week before Camping had heart surgery, Tuter said his boss confided in him his concern for Family Radio's future upon his death.

    "He was very specific he did not want it to continue," Tuter said, quoting Camping in the meeting, "'God raised up Family Radio just as a platform for me!'"

    The future?

    What will Family Radio become? It depends on whom you ask.

    Some followers still debate future Rapture dates. But others hope Family Radio will return to its pre-Rapture roots as a more mainstream religious radio network.

    "Most of us were sad to see the stuff happening, but we thought, 'OK, once the (Rapture) date goes by we'll get back to orthodox programming,'" said Craig Hulsebos, 70, Family Radio's longtime director of programming who was let go in September 2012. "But we didn't."

    Evans envisions a new mission.

    "We feel we can be a comfort to listeners and a comfort to people affected by events, like the one in Connecticut or Hurricane Sandy," he said. "We want to be a comfort and reminder of God's strength and mercy. ... In the end, our founding mission is to proclaim the word of God."

    Matthias Gafni is an investigative reporter.


  25. The following news article, originally in Spanish, translated by Google Translate

    Died Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda

    The Herald August 17, 2013

    MIAMI,U.S. Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda died last week, just on Thursday, August 8 at 3 pm at Methodist Hospital in Sugar Land, Texas, where his wife was with him at all times, television media reported the world. Representatives of the Growing in Grace church have not yet confirmed or denied the information, but reliable sources indicate that Miranda died from complications with liver cirrhosis who had been suffering to many years.

    Miranda's last appearance was on his birthday in a video, which appeared gaunt and haggard where asked his followers to be prepared for the "great transformation", an event which he would become an immortal and his followers, assuring that could walk through walls.

    Miranda was born in the city of Ponce, Puerto Rico, in 1946, said his "conversion" occurred in 1973 while living in Massachusetts. She says she saw two angels descending to him and, suddenly, "he said in the body of Christ Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda".

    Since then, Jose Luis began to call himself "Christ Jesus" and "Antichrist". He founded the Growing in Grace church in 1986.

    In 2012, Miranda, who claimed to be the reincarnation of Jesus Christ on earth man, had announced that he would become a being indestructible and immortal and that members of his sect could pass through walls and touch fire without getting burned. After the date, June 30, nothing was heard from Miranda or his supporters until last April, when he published his video YouTube .


    Josefina Torres, Miranda's ex-wife confirms death in this YouTube video:


  26. Harold Camping, radio host who predicted worlds end, dies at 92

    by Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Religion News Service December 17, 2013

    (RNS) Harold Camping, the radio preacher who convinced thousands of followers that Jesus would return on May 21, 2011, to usher in the end of the the world, has died, according to a statement released late Monday (Dec. 16) by his Family Radio network. He was 92.

    Camping died Sunday evening, an employee at Family Radio confirmed. He had fallen at his home on Nov. 30 and had been in weak health due to a stroke since 2011.

    Camping first predicted Jesus’ return in 1994, but his most recent forecasts gained national attention through advertisements and the Family Radio network of stations he founded. He warned that “judgment day” would occur in May 2011 and said the world would end in October 2011.

    When his prophecies turned out to be false, he declared in March 2012 that his May 21 prediction had been “incorrect and sinful” and said his ministry would get out of the predictions business.

    The ministry sold its prominent stations and laid off staffers, with assets dropping from $135 million in 2007 to $29.2 million in 2011.

    Pressed by reporters after his May 21 prediction failed to materialize, Camping said he had miscalculated — it must be Oct. 21, he said. “I’m not a genius,” he said. “I pray all the time for wisdom.”

    Starting in the 1950s, Camping broadcast his views via Family Radio, a global network of Christian stations for which he served as unpaid president and primary on-air talent. His teachings aired worldwide five nights a week via “Open Forum,” a call-in show that draws listeners as far away as China and Ghana.

    “Thank you for calling ‘Open Forum,’ ” Camping said countless times in his trademark baritone, “and shall we take our next call, please?”

    Camping was once well-regarded in among evangelicals, both for his encyclopedic knowledge of Scripture and his radio network. But in the late 1980s, when he began teaching that churches had strayed from the Bible embracing a false doctrine, he lost much previous support.

    He also discouraged his listeners from joining a church, saying modern churches were heretical and that the “church age” had ended as the end of the world was near. He had no formal religious training beyond his tattered copies of the King James Version of the Bible and couldn’t read or speak Greek, Hebrew or Jesus’ native Aramaic.

    His 2011 prophecy got widespread attention, including “Rapture Parties” hosted by atheists who wanted to “ridicule and poke fun at the fools.” It gave one man the opportunity to create a fake business that offered to care for the pets of believers swept up by the Rapture.

    His March 2012 statement, which in many ways amounted to the final time many people heard from Camping, expressed regret for the predictions, which had led many followers to sell all their possessions in anticipation of the end of the world.

    Camping said people continued to wish for another prediction, but he had become convinced that critics were correct about the biblical admonition that “of that day and hour knoweth no man.”

    “We must also openly acknowledge that we have no new evidence pointing to another date for the end of the world,” he wrote at the time. “Though many dates are circulating, Family Radio has no interest in even considering another date.”

    Camping is survived by his wife of 71 years, the statement says.