Camping's Followers Struggle to Make Sense of May 22

By Chris Mooney | May 22, 2011 5:36 pm

We still haven’t heard from Harold Camping. We can only speculate what he will say happened. Journalists have tracked down some of his followers, though, and the Atlantic Wire provides a good rundown. Here are some interesting ones:

Rosana, Jeff’s wife, who had been out at a friend’s birthday party, comes home a little after 6. “What, nothing happened?” she asks with no small amount of contempt.

Meanwhile, Jeff is checking his text messages. “There are a bunch of friends here who are mocking me,” he says. “And that’s all right! I just put on my spiritual shield and endure.”

This one sounds pretty sure to keep the faith.

Robert Fitzpatrick, who spent $ 140,000 of his savings on rapture ads, was actually out in public in Times Square when nothing happened. His response?

When the hour came and went, he said: “I do not understand why …,” as his speech broke off and he looked at his watch.

“I do not understand why nothing has happened.”

He may offer more of an understanding soon.

Tom Evans, described as “Camping’s PR aide,” was the most frank–but still defended Family Radio:

“You can imagine we’re pretty disappointed, but the word of God is still true,” he said. “We obviously went too far, and that’s something we need to learn from.”

“As bad as it appears—and there’s no getting around it, it is bad, flat-out—I have not found anything close to the faithfulness of Family Radio,” he said.

The key development will still be when Camping emerges to tell these believers how to interpret what has happened–and, perhaps, to resolve their dissonance.

Meanwhile, here’s a video of Fitzpatrick before and after, from the New York Daily News:

AC_FL_RunContent(‘codebase’,’,0,28,0′,’width’,’485′,’height’,’350′,’title’,’Video Player’,’src’,’′, ‘FlashVars’, ’embedCode=JqYnNnMjop3vIbiAsZmRaig5rc7UXKDO’, ‘quality’,’high’, ‘play’, ‘true’, ‘loop’, ‘true’, ‘allowFullScreen’, ‘true’, ‘pluginspage’,’’,’movie’,’′ );

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Motivated Reasoning

Comments (29)

  1. Mikey

    I honestly feel pretty bad for these people – they mostly seem to be mentally ill, somewhere on the scale from delusional to suicidal. Maybe this will help their families get them into treatment.

  2. Maria

    These people are not mentally ill. Misguided, yes. Too trusting, maybe. But they are still children of God with a hope in eternity. My hope is that they do not lose their faith in God because they, unfortunately, put it into a false prophet.

  3. Chris Mooney

    I agree that these folks are not mentally ill. Unfortunately, delusion is part of human nature, and this is just one of its many forms.

  4. Michael Casanova

    I wont say I feel happy about this, but I certainly dont feel bad for them. Even if you’re a christian, arent you supposed to put your faith in god and not men? Seems to me that they brought it on themselves by not following their own teachings (surprise surprise)

  5. The Message

    Matthew 7:15 – Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves (there will be many false prophets as seen in harold campings)

    Matthew 24:36 – No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father (No man is greater then GOD, harold campings is a false prophet)

  6. James

    They are mentally ill. Christianity is based on a mushroom cult and the apostles are significant of zodiac signs. It’s sad, but at the same time I’m happy that these people embarrassed themselves because it really makes one wonder how many other nuts are out there with false beliefs and how many uninformed people are in positions of power and control. You question the legitimacy of any of these religious groups and their members and ask yourself if any of them should be taken seriously. They should all be removed from positions of power immediately for fear that their influence could damage our species chances of survival.

  7. Beatrice

    …….”They should all be removed from positions of power immediately”……..

    WHAAAAAAT???? Remove the head of every Govt and Monarchy? There’ll be chaos, man!

    You need to get some coffee down ya, & wake up, sunshine! :)

  8. David

    Thank God the world has not ended yet. But, instead of pointing fingers at Camping, let us focus on our own lives and repent from sins. Let us be grateful we have some more time before the real end of the world.

  9. Chris Mooney

    As is probably apparent from some of these comments–obviously not by regular blog readers–this post has huge traffic right now from Google News.

  10. But even to a ordinary sceptic Mr Fitzpatrick’s decision to spend his entire retirement savings on a sure bet sounded preposterous and ludicrous- the same way on some level spending one’s entire fortune on mortgages that only later plummet in value, the cost of an education for jobs that don’t exist or a preferred idyllic lifestyle that is anything but. Could it be that it’s man made lot to vigilantly believe in those things that doesn’t always make sense even if it potentially brings us harm in the long run but valor and a kind of self worth that is so often missing in an arbitrary world?

  11. tim


    dude, there’s 7 1/2 BILLION people on the planet. it’ll take more than a few misguided leaders to bring about our extinction.

  12. Should The FCC Revoke Harold Camping’s Family Radio Licenses?

  13. Ruben

    I’ll just use a smarter man’s statement for my reply.

    “Whoever has theological blood in his veins is shifty and dishonourable in all things.” – F. W. Nietzsche

  14. So, we haven’t heard from Harold Camping yet. Surely it’s occurred to you that HE is the only person who was actually Raptured up?

  15. Apple

    They are mental if they were true believers of god they would know the bible says noone knows not even the angels in heaven the true time of when the second coming is. NOT even harold himself is gonna know stupid prick he is. Harold camping is a false prophet and a leader of a cult n if you dont think these people are mental then just look at em praising a fucked up 89 year old.

  16. Apple

    as for you Michael burton we all know harold is hiding he knew nothing would happen and for the hundreds of people who sold all their belongings to prepare for a false belief its sad n mental read the bible dont believe a cult leader like harold camping or anyone else who claims they know the date.

  17. Taters Dad

    Stupidity is hardly a mental illness

  18. AL

    You wrote his name as “Fitzgerald” in the last sentence.

  19. Marie

    @ James

    This is not a reflection of Christianity, because obviously these people don’t read the bible correctly. It states that No man knows the hour of Christ’s return. No true Christian person or community would put their faith into something like this. As much as I think this whole thing was so ridiculous, I wouldn’t go as far to call them mentally ill, just misguided. Try working in a mental hospital once in your life and you’ll learn the difference, and maybe not be so misguided yourself. As far as I’m concerned, people would be way more destructive without a faith in some sort of higher being. You should try it.

  20. Marie

    Hey APPLE

    Michael Burton was making a joke.

  21. Ruben

    The only difference between the current Christian society and the “Camping Club” is that one thought the end was yesterday, and the other is still waiting happily. Both however are equally vacuous and riddled with stupidity. To claim the moral high ground as a Christian is frankly idiotic.

  22. ajc98

    It’s not that the Bible was proven wrong- only Harold Camping was! Christ will come back and all will stand before him, small and great. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who will take his power to himself and reign over the world. His rule is characterized by love of righteousness and hatred of iniquity (Hebrews 1:8-9). But many love something he calls evil and/or hate something he calls good. The conscience and the word of God bear witness to that truth. Now there is still a chance to change your mind, turn from your sin to follow Jesus on the narrow way that leads to life, and find mercy. Who will be honest and say that they would not have been ready if Jesus had come back? Who will be wise and do something about it and prepare for eternity? What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the world and lose his soul? There will be no mercy at the judgment- but now you can end your rebellion and call on the Lord Jesus to save you. To hold back and wait for another day is to refuse him. Get ready now while you still can!

    “Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.” (Acts 3:26); “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24a); “Seek yes the LORD while he may be found, call yes upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” (Isaiah 55:6-7); “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

  23. asdf

    Camping is a moron, but at least he had the courage to make a firm empirical prediction with an attached date. Once the date passed and nothing happened we could all laugh at him. If only the climate change people could do the same.

  24. Titren

    amen Ruben….
    (hmm.. that didn’t sound quite right)

  25. Mdpost

    Camping comes up with some nutty interpretation/calculation of the end of times and people believe him. Gullible to the max. We all know that October 21st, 2012 is it. THE end of the Mayan Calender.

  26. Ss

    *Plase do not mind the spelling or grammer issues as I am typing on a smart phone

    First, may I should say is your undoubtful naive perpective of “faith”. You say that “faith” is much of less danger then without then let met ask you, how many conflicts and deaths has been brought upon this from the idea of “faith”?
    Our faith, our belifs has blinded our rationally to a point of reliance and death. Throughtout history, man has fought wars for “faith”. Does “faith” solve anything? Has it solved it anything? And let me tell to you all believers of god is that the bible was created by human. Human throughout ages has always lied and cheated. Those who wrote the bible, arent they human as well?

  27. Ss

    Well who were those humans inspired by? By god.

  28. Ss

    To the imposter of the name Ss

    What god do you speak of? Think, people are so illusive that they can believe anything is happening to them. What proof? Does the words of a man, just like Harold Camping justify any means of truth? If people began to throughly realize the limitations of “faith” that they create for themselves. Why must you follow the law of a man preaching; beliving he has spoken to god? Can we justify any belief ? When we know that is has caused only problems?

  29. jwf3148

    Christianity is faith based. If you have faith in Jesus Christ then no matter how much harm you do to others you are just as much a Christian as any other person who has faith in Jesus Christ. And if you have faith in Jesus Christ and do great good for others then you are not any more of a Christian then those who have faith in Jesus Christ and do great harm to others.


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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.


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