Billboards: Two months 'til Armageddon
Tue, 22 Mar 2011 5:12a.m.
By Dan Satherley
Forget Ken Ring and his vague predictions of possible earthquakes – he's got nothing on US broadcaster Harold Camping, who's so sure we're living in the end times, he's spending a fortune to get the word out.
Billboards seen not only around the world, but here in far-flung New Zealand pin 'Judgment Day' as May 21 – just two months from now.
"Blow the trumpet… warn the people," they scream, leaving little doubt. So far the billboards have been seen in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
A representative at advertising company OGGI, which owns the sites, told 3 News the Christchurch billboard was knocked down in February's devastating quake that also took approximately 180 lives.
One of two still standing in Auckland overlooks church St Matthew-In-The-City, a progressive Anglican church based in central Auckland.
St Matthew-In-The-City is known for its own headline-grabbing billboards, such as one that featured Joseph and Mary in bed, with the text: 'Poor Joseph. God was a hard act to follow.'
Priest-in-charge Clay Nelson notes the irony.
"I don’t think it is a coincidence that he placed one here," jokes the Rev Nelson. "We were somewhat surprised to see it."
St Matthew-In-The-City planned a billboard in response, even going so far to choose one – but after the February 22 quake in Christchurch, it was deemed not in good taste.
The church declined to tell 3 News what it said.
"That would be as bad as putting it up!" laughs the Rev Nelson, who moved to New Zealand from the US in 2005, blaming – and thanking – former president George W Bush.
"If it weren't for his war in Iraq and his assault on the Constitution, I would've never found New Zealand or St Matthew's," he writes on the church's website.
The Rev Nelson has done his own research into the group behind the billboards, a US organisation called Family Radio, led by 89-year-old Mr Camping.
"He's what you call a 'millenialist', and has predicted it once before," says the Rev Nelson.
In 1992, Mr Camping published a book called 1994?, which suggested a possible Judgment Day of September 6, but interestingly, acknowledged he could be wrong, picking May 21, 2011 as a back-up date.
Obviously he was wrong about 1994, but this time, he's not leaving any room for error. May 21 is Judgment Day, and the battle of Armageddon concludes on October 21, when the world will end.
How does he know this? According to Mr Camping, May 21 is exactly 7,000 years since the date of the Great Flood spoken of in The Bible, Torah and Koran. This, alongside some Bible-inspired mathematics and numerology, is what drives his conviction.
The Rev Nelson however isn't convinced – rather, quite annoyed at Mr Camping's unique take on biblical prophecy.
"He says it's the 7000th anniversary of the Great Flood. I didn't know we knew the date," he says. "I don’t think it's possible."
Despite not trusting his unique interpretation of biblical prophecy, the Rev Nelson gives Mr Camping the benefit of the doubt.
"It's interesting it's always going to happen in their lifetime, but if I put the best spin on it, he truly believes this… It certainly is good for his business, but I don't buy it."
Not everyone is convinced Mr Camping is for real. Netsafe's Martin Cocker told student newspaper Te Waha Nui last week the billboards are a "clear attempt" at legitimising a scam.
"The fact that they’ve built a big billboard adds a false sense of legitimacy to their claims," says Mr Cocker.
But it's not as if the aging Mr Camping and Family Radio need the money. Family Radio, founded by Mr Camping in 1958 today has net assets of US$120,000,000. It has over 150 stations broadcasting in the US, Russia and Turkey, and also has a major online presence.
"He's created this rather major broadcasting network," says the Rev Nelson.
Which is why people are paying attention. That, and the current interest in doomsday prophecies, in the wake of the Christchurch and Japan earthquakes, and the rise of the cult of 2012.
"The earthquakes in Christchurch and Japan are seen as somehow God's judgment," says the Rev Nelson. "It's not God's judgment. The billboards kind of feed into this paranoia – they make out God to be the bad guy."
Bad guy or not, the Rev Nelson says Mr Camping's message – delivered with honest intentions or not – isn't helping to spread the gospel.
"I hate that it's become one of the faces of Christianity that those outside of the church see," he told 3 News. "People see the billboards and say, 'Gee, that's why I don't want anything to do with it.'"
But Mr Camping is no friend of established church institutions either.
"Satan has taken over the church, and anyone who's amongst the church will not be saved," says the Rev Nelson of Mr Camping's beliefs.
"Millenialists divide history into epochs, and under their interpretation, Revelations is when Satan rules. This includes the church.
"It's a pretty narrow interpretation."
Something you definitely can't pin on Ken Ring, for better or worse.
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22/05/2011 2:54:56 a.m.
Gary.. you posted your may 21st thing on may 22nd... *sighs*
24/04/2011 12:20:52 p.m.
I predict the sun will slowly turn into a red giant and swallow the earth in about 5 billion years. How about proton decay? That should see an end to matter as we know it in about 10 to the power of 36 years. Heat death of the universe in about 10 to the power of 150 years. So there you have it, we are all doomed. Prove me wrong if you like.
26/03/2011 12:41:45 p.m.
Old man who knows nothing about Jesus ChristAs the Bible says "Always learning but never coming to the knowledge of the Truth"He needs to beg God for...MERCY
23/03/2011 2:24:02 a.m.
The pastors says he does not believe we can know the date of Noah's flood. And as usual, these men of the cloth never offer any proof. In Genesis 7:11, God said the flood began in Noah's 600th year on the 17th day of the 2nd month. Now, it's pretty clear that these things are not being taught in seminaries. Sadly, most poor pastors don't bother to study these things because they've been taught that Jesus is coming like a thief in the night. Yet, I Thessalonians 5 says He will not come as a thief to the true believers.
I Thessalonians 5:4* But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5* Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
Don't trust your pastor--trust the Bible!
23/03/2011 12:10:39 a.m.
Camping's egregious, extreme esoteric eschatology is itself part of the falling away! Summation and tract here: http://peacebyjesus.witnesstoday.org/Camping.html
22/03/2011 12:58:28 p.m.
Judgement day it should be: the day the world judges all religion as the root of all drivel.
22/03/2011 12:08:14 p.m.
Hello Gary, will you sell me your house for $10, payable now with settlement date May 22nd? So you get the money now and I will get nothing if you are right. That's a good deal for you. How could you refuse? Serious offer. Let's talk.
22/03/2011 3:18:28 a.m.
The Bible says it, and I believe it. MAY 21!
22/03/2011 2:52:02 a.m.
Chuck Anziulewicz wrote:
In a perverse sort of way, I actually WISH that Harold Camping was right! What an interesting day that would be! What would be even more interesting is if the Apocalypse were to occur in a more spectacular fashion, not in the anthropomorphical sense the authors of the "Left Behind" series have portrayed, but as more of a Stephen Spielberg production, with boiling clouds, trumpets, angels descending out of the sky, Moon turned to blood, the whole nine yards. Imagine coming to the realization that it was all coming true, just as the evangelists had been warning for years, and that there was something more awesome than just the cold, hard, physical reality we inhabit. Imagine actually watching people disappear into thin air! Wouldn't THAT be something??? Yet in the final analysis, it's that cold, hard, physical reality that I will content myself with. My life is not so meaningless that I need the fear of a "Rapture" and the "End Times" to make sense of it all ... nor do I need Heaven or Hell to bribe me into behaving decently, thank you very much.
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