he wrongly predicted the end of the world - twice
May 23, 2011
Mr Camping, 89, a co-founder of Family Radio in the US, predicted the world would end on September 6, 1994.
Blaming an incomplete study of the Bible for his error, Mr Camping later revised that date to May 21, 2011.
spent their savings before May 21, believing they wouldn't need a cent to survive after that date
This time around, he was sure it would happen, saying 200 million people would be saved, while others would endure a series of terrible earthquakes, beginning when the clock struck 6pm.
Eventually the world would be swallowed up by a fireball and obliterated on October 21, he predicted.
"There's going to be this tremendous earthquake that's going to make the last earthquake in Japan seem like nothing in comparison," he told New York magazine.
"And the whole world will be alerted that Judgment Day has begun.
"And then it will follow the sun around for 24 hours. As each area of the world gets to that point of 6pm on May 21, then it will happen there, and until it happens, the rest of the world will be standing far off and witnessing the horrible thing that is happening."
Mr Camping's career as a Christian radio broadcaster has been marked by controversy in recent years.
Apart from his apocalypse false alarm in 1994, Mr Camping attracted the ire of US Christian leaders in the early 2000s, when he told believers to abandon their churches because Satan had taken them over.
"The Bible says God is not saving people any longer in the churches," he said in an interview.
"They're being saved outside the churches."
He called the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 a "diversion from what the real terror is".
"When Christ comes, there will be no more mercy, no more Gospel, no more salvation ... God always follows through."
But despite all that, he still has plenty of followers.
Mr Camping's radio network is reported to be worth between $US70 million and $US120 million.
In 2009, it reported receiving $US18.3 million in donations, with assets of more than $US104 million, including $US34 million in stocks or other publicly traded securities.
From Family Radio's office in Oakland, California, its signal is broadcast on 150 stations in the US, as well as reaching audiences in Europe, Asia and Africa.
Mr Camping takes questions from listeners on his show Open Forum, discussing his thoughts on homosexuality and even home schooling and financial planning.
His shows often feature readings from Matthew 24, which describes wars preceding the coming of Jesus.
According to his own online biography, Mr Camping trained as a civil engineer at the University of California in 1942 and set up his own construction business.
He established his radio network with two other people in 1958, sold his construction business and eventually became a volunteer at Family Radio.
His wife of 68 years believes his theories, but his six living children, 28 grandchildren and 38 great grandchildren do not, The Christian Post reported.
Adding to his doubters are likely to be those who spent their savings before May 21, believing they wouldn't need a cent to survive after that date.
America's National Public Radio interviewed groups of people who believed they would be "raptured" on May 21, with many saying they no longer cared about keeping their jobs or worrying about their retirement funds.
One Orlando couple, Adrienne and Joel Martinez, who have a toddler daughter and a baby on the way, quit their jobs and decided to spend all of their money.
"You know, you think about retirement and stuff like that, what's the point of having some money just sitting there?" Mr Martinez said.
After nothing happened on Saturday, Keith Bauer, who drove across the US to be in California for the rapture, expressed his disappointment.
"I had some scepticism but I was trying to push the scepticism away because I believe in God," he said.
"I was hoping for it because I think heaven would be a lot better than this earth."
Robert Fitzpatrick, 60, spent $US140,000 of savings paying for billboards spreading the message about the so-called Rapture.
"I can't tell you what I feel right now," he said.
"Obviously I haven't understood it correctly because we're still here."
Mr Camping might also be at a loss as to what to do now, having told New York magazine he had absolutely no plans after May 21.
"I don't even think about those kind of issues. The Bible is not ... God is not playing games. I don't even want to think about that question at all. It is going to happen."
Tom Evans, a Family Radio board member, told ABC News Mr Camping was at his Oakland home "somewhat bewildered" and "mystified" that the rapture did not happen.
Mr Evans said he believed the public was owed an apology and the board would meet on Tuesday to figure out what to do.
If everyone else gives up on him, at least Mr Camping has a friendly neighbour in Sheila Doan, who said she doesn't share his views, but respects him anyway.
"I wouldn't consider Mr Camping a close friend and wouldn't have him over for dinner or anything, but if he needs anything, we are there for him," she said.
- with AP
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