Judgment Day is nearly upon us.
That’s according to Alameda resident Harold Camping. The 89-year-old Family Radio evangelist has garnered international attention with his claims that May 21 marks the beginning of the end.
This Saturday, May 21, says Camping, Jesus will return to earth and save his believers. The unrepentant sinners among us will be the victims of a massive earthquake, which will start in New Zealand, then spread across the world, until finally it reaches the United States around 6 p.m.
Unlucky survivors will perish six months later on Oct. 21, when God destroys the earth with fire.
“It’s a horrible judgment that’s coming,” said Santos Rolon, a spokesperson for the evangelical group. “The scriptures describe the events, and they are horrible events.”
Camping claims the May 21 date is exactly 7,000 years since the animals entered Noah’s Ark. He arrived at this date through some intricate calculations based on the Bible.
His supporters are certain his calculations are correct.
“The Bible is the source,” said Rolon. “Harold Camping fine-tunes the Bible and he allows God to speak through him using the scriptures.”
Critics point out that this isn’t the first time Camping predicted that Armageddon is nigh. In the nineties, he wrote a book called 1994?, in which he claimed the world could end that year.
“The title had a question mark,” said Alameda resident Guy von Harringa, an employee at Family Radio. “You can’t be held accountable for suggesting something might happen.”
Camping moved to Alameda from Colorado as a child. After attending the University of California, Berkeley, he dabbled in construction before opening Family Radio in 1959.
The organization, with headquarters on Hegenberger Road, operates 66 radio stations around the world.
Camping has for many years led a Sunday service at the Veterans Memorial Building on Central Avenue. This past Sunday was his last service, von Harringa said.
There’s not much you can do to prepare for Saturday, said spokesperson Santos Rolon.
“We have to live our days accordingly,” said Rolon. “I don’t think when it comes to this project, God’s project, we can prepare ourselves. The only thing we can do is plead to him for his mercy.”
If you’re living in the United States, you’re at a disadvantage. The majority of visitors to the Family Radio website are from developing countries. They stand the best chance for salvation, said von Harringa.
“Most of the people from the U.S are not open,” he said. “We’ve become a very corrupt nation.”
Many of Camping's supporters are chosing to spend their final days with their loved ones and families. On Tuesday, von Harringa said he planned to leave Alameda for good.
“Tonight will be my last night here,” said Harringa. “I fly out to Ohio tomorrow, where I'm from. And the Lord willing, I have unspeakable travel plans this Saturday.”