Some people around the world are preparing for what they say will be the end of time. These people are quitting their jobs, liquidating their assets, saying their final goodbyes and spreading the word: Judgment Day is Saturday.
The Judgment Day movement is being spearheaded by Harold Camping and his organization, Family Radio. Camping, who is 89 years old, is a former civil engineer turned religious figure who predicts the end of the world based on a numerical analysis of the Bible. He previously predicted that the world might end in 1994.
Gunther von Harringa, who runs Bible Ministries International, which produces content for Family Radio, describes the horror that he says will engulf the world this Saturday as God punishing man for all their sins.
“God will open up all the graves around the world,” Harringa said. “The entire surface of the earth will be littered with the decay of the people that died.”
Harringa said a massive earthquake will ensue, and the devastation will continue until October 21, when “God will completely incinerate the whole universe and it will never be remembered again.”
Harringa added that while “true believers” will be saved, many people falsely consider themselves to be Christians, but are not true believers.
Ken Bushman, a 43-year-old retired correctional officer, has been spending his final days traveling the country to warn people of their “imminent” death. He has been planning for this day for nearly two decades, even taking an early retirement.
“I resigned early specifically because I had almost $200,000 in retirement that was going to go to waste, so I resigned so I could utilize that money to get this message out,” Bushman said, adding that he spent a significant amount of that money on billboards and organizations that spread the message of Judgment Day.
Bushman said he has since lost friends and been ignored by people he was close with.
Harringa said while there is no end for a believer because they go on to the next reality, saying goodbye to many of his non-believing children and grandchildren was hard for him.
“Saying goodbye is a very painful thing,” Harringa said. “We know that God does everything perfectly so we have to look to him, but that doesn’t make it any easier.”
While Harringa and Bushman are preparing for the end, Blair Scott, communications director of American Atheists, Inc., will be throwing a rapture party.
“I would rather not worry about (Judgment Day) because it’s not going to happen,” Scott said.
He said these types of predictions are nothing new.
“This has been going on for two millenniums, and every time they predict it they have to backpedal and say they did the math wrong,” Scott said. “I think it’s mostly a money-making scheme and a publicity stunt. Everybody forgets about it and they wait 10 years and do it again. It’s depressing though, how much people are putting at stake over this.”
According to ministrywatch.com, Family Radio (Family Stations Inc.) has a net worth of almost $122 million. Family Radio representative Ralph Verve said the company is entirely listener supported.
Bushman acknowledged the other predictions, but remains positive this is really the end of time.
“Those predictions didn’t have any information like we did out of the Bible,” Bushman said. “I never would have quit my job if I had any doubt.”
Many Ohio State students were not aware that the world is predicted to end in two days.
Jennifer Janssen, a second-year in biology said she had not heard about Judgment Day, and the prediction does not worry her.
“I have heard rumors and speculations like this in the past; they are kind of ridiculous,” Janssen said. “I think people just like to stir things and scare people to get them to believe what they want.”
Richard Plumb II, a fourth-year in communication and atmospheric science, said he does not think the world is ending, but has a lot of respect for people like Harringa and Bushman.
“Even though they may have a contrasting view of what I do, I still admire them for actively being involved in what they believe in,” Plumb said.
Denise and David Tripp are devout Christians who have been preaching on the Oval since 1987. Denise wears a sign that says, “I am a Jesus person,” while David does most of the talking.
“If they knew the exact date the world would be ready to repent. They are religionists, those are someone who says they have the truth and they don’t,” David said.
They both agree it is impossible to know the exact date the world will end.
“Nobody knows the date and time, for anybody who goes ahead and predicts the date and time is a fool. There were predictions back in 2000, 2002 and again and again,” Denise said.
Father Chuck Cunniff of the Saint Thomas Moore Newman Center at OSU declined to comment on the matter.
Campus Rabbi Daniel Olgin said making these types of predictions can be harmful.
“If somebody makes a world-shattering prediction and it doesn’t happen, that person’s credibility is shot and people who have faith in that particular message, their faith will be hurt,” Olgin said.
Professor Eugene Holland, chair of the Department of Comparative Studies, said there are often underlying factors that contribute to predictions such as Judgment Day.
“Predictions like this one gain broader public appeal when there is widespread insecurity of whatever origin: a weak economy, dramatic climate change, natural disasters, rapid social change, etc.,” Holland said.
He also added that people who make these predictions, and those who believe them, often share certain personality traits. He said some people push features of themselves that they find intolerable onto others instead of addressing their own issues.
“Taken to the extreme, such people’s inability to tolerate the tendencies that have been projected onto the outside world leads to fantasies of the destruction of that world, coupled with the hope that if the projection were completely successful, they themselves would escape the destructions and be saved,” Holland said.