A California broadcaster who wrongly forecast the return of Jesus last month is now hospitalized after suffering a stroke.
Harold Camping, 89, of Oakland, Calif.-based Family Radio was reportedly taken by ambulance Thursday night from his home in Alameda, Calif.
“He had a stroke, it was on his right side,” a neighbor of Camping’s told the Oakland Tribune, noting that she and her husband helped and comforted Camping’s wife, Shirley, as the event took place.
“His speech appears to be a little bit slurred but otherwise he’s OK,” the neighbor said, after her husband spoke with Shirley yesterday. “(Shirley) said he was doing good … and the only thing that’s affected is his speech.”
The Tribune notes there was no answer at Camping’s door this afternoon and all of the curtains and blinds were drawn. A GMC pickup with a Family Radio bumper sticker and a white Buick sat in the driveway.
Meanwhile, Charles Menut, the regional manager for Family Radio posted a Yahoo group message this morning announcing Camping’s stroke to supporters of the broadcast network.
“Please just pray for him and do not try to contact anyone at his home or Family Radio,” Menut wrote. “He and Shirley have enough family members to handle the situation. I’m sure we’ll be able to publicly update everyone on Monday.”
There are heartfelt responses to the posting, including one from Santiago A. Quiles González, who says, “My family and I will keep our dear brother, Harold Camping, his wife and family in our prayers. May the LORD bless you all.”
Camping made worldwide headlines in recent months for his prediction that Judgment Day was guaranteed to be May 21, 2011, prompting many believers to quit their regular jobs to help spread the warning.
Seattle Atheists are calling for Congress to probe Harold Camping and Family Radio for fraud after another failed prediction for the return of Jesus to Earth.
As WND reported, his failed prediction of Jesus’ return to Earth then prompted calls for the ouster of the Doomsday preacher and a congressional probe of his broadcasting network.
It was not the first time Camping got the forecast wrong, having prognosticated the return of Jesus numerous times, including 1994.
“This guy is something else,” Richard Myers, the administrator of abibleanswer.org told WND. “We are calling for the Family Radio board to remove him.”
In a posting on Myers’ website, he says the board of directors of Family Radio is just as culpable as Camping in the spreading of erroneous information:
He is not able to spread these false doctrines without their direct involvement. There is a great responsibility resting on them to do what is right. By allowing Camping to continue on the air and on the board, they are guilty of all that Harold Camping is guilty of. That guilt increases daily.
Family Radio has made a point of teaching that they follow the Bible, but they are not following the Bible. They are following a man, a man who rejects much Bible truth. They have been given evidence that all may clearly see. A false prophet once is enough, but twice is too much.
Despite his glaring error, Camping adjusted his prediction for the end of the world to Oct. 21 of this year.
Myers’ group is continuing to offer $1 million to purchase Camping’s network of dozens of stations, saying it would take possession Oct. 22 since the broadcaster wouldn’t need them after God returns.
“After taking the money of his supporters, let Harold give up all he has to show he believes what he is preaching. He does not, or else he would sell,” Myers said.
Family Radio’s homepage on May 21, 2011, proclaimed zero days left until return of Jesus to Earth.
Meanwhile, a group of atheists is calling for a congressional investigation into fraud allegedly perpetrated by Camping and Family Radio.
“We support free speech, but this is shouting ‘Rapture!’ in a crowded theater,” said John Keiser of Seattle Atheists.
Another atheist with the group, Bob Seidensticker, said, “There must be consequences. For this radio network to be financially healthy when they have caused many of their listeners to be destitute or distraught – that’s wrong. We want a way for those injured by this prediction to come forward so they can be compensated by Family Radio.”
The atheists are lamenting that religious organizations are exempted from disclosure requirements by the Internal Revenue Service, precluding the public from finding out how much money Camping and his network have collected from the Judgment Day campaign.
“Has this whole episode been a financial windfall for Family Radio?” Seidensticker said. “We can’t know. So that the public can understand this and thousands of other questionable religious organizations, we call on Congress to make the rules consistent for all nonprofits. If a ministry is comfortable with God knowing how it spends its money, surely it can’t have anything to hide from the public.”
Last month, the Christian Post reported Camping’s latest predictions had resulted in chaos among his followers and others who believed him, with some quitting their jobs, others selling all their possessions before the expected “Rapture,” and one mother even trying to kill her two children.
According to the International Business Times, “Lyn Benedetto of Antelope Valley, Calif. slit the wrist and throat of her two daughters and then slit her own, claiming to prevent them from going through the ‘Tribulation’ on May 21, 2011. However, her neighbor discovered the attempted murder and suicide early enough for ambulance to take them to a nearby hospital to be treated.”
Upon hearing that, Camping said, “Murdering is terrible. It is contrary to everything the Bible teaches. That would have been a horrible thing if she has done that. That will make me weep. That will fill me with sorrow that she would do that. The Bible teaches that we are to save life, not kill. If it is going to be death, leave it to God. God knows who He wants to kill and make alive. That is His business, not our business.”
When asked if he’d take responsibility for such incidents, Camping said no.
“I don’t have any responsibility. I can’t be responsible for anybody’s lives,” he explained. “I am only teaching the Bible. I am not teaching what I believe, as if I am the authority. I am just simply teaching what the Bible says. And I don’t have spiritual rule over anybody.”
The gravel-voiced preacher indicated he would not sell his possessions, explaining he needed a place to live and had to pay bills until five months from now when he expects the end to finally arrive.
“Whenever Christ comes, whatever I have left, I will just leave it behind,” he said. “Until then, I still need to live.”
Meanwhile, Family Radio is still collecting donations and has no intention of returning any funds.
“No, that money is still going out. We’re still in business. We still have another five months,” said Camping.
“Why would we return it? It’s been given to get the Gospel out. We’re spending it as wisely as possible.”
A vehicle proclaiming Judgment Day to be May 21, 2011, seen driving through New Orleans, La., earlier this year.
WND reader Matt Carter says Camping has been wrong on his predictions far more than once or twice.
“This is actually the seventh time this false prophet has tried to date-set,” Carter said. “I live in Alameda, Calif., where this charlatan owns six homes. He’s lucky we’re living under the New Covenant, otherwise I’d be tempted to go over and stone him.”
Carter continued: “In 1992, he published a book titled ’1994?’ in which he claimed have figured out that Sept. 6, 1994, would be the time of the Lord’s return. Once that date failed, he reset his countdown calendar six more times:
Sept. 15, 1994, the Day of Atonement
Sept. 25, 1994, the Feast of Tabernacles
Oct. 4, 1994, the “actual” birthday of Jesus that Camping calculated
Dec. 25, 1994, the traditional celebration of Christmas
Feb. 25, 1995, the Jewish Feast of Purim
May 3, 1996, the result of (Mark 13:35) extended the Sept. 6, 1994, date”
In the wake of Camping’s latest failure, a user at reddit.com began a billboard campaign of his own in Greensboro, N.C.
According to WGHP-TV, he posted a digital billboard near Interstate 40 and Gallimore Dairy Road in Guilford County on Sunday.
Its message simply said, “That was awkward” and included a verse from Matthew 24:36 stating “No one knows the day or the hour … .”
In a thread on reddit, the unidentified user explained his decision to post the billboard.