Harold Camping, the radio preacher and serial doomsday predictor, died over the weekend at the age of 92, via the Associated Press:
Family Radio Network marketing manager Nina Romero said Harold Camping, a retired civil engineer who built a worldwide following for the nonprofit, Oakland-based ministry he founded in 1958, died at his home on Sunday. She said he had been hospitalized after falling.
Camping’s most widely spread prediction was that the Rapture would happen on May 21, 2011. His independent Christian media empire spent millions of dollars — some of it from donations made by followers who quit their jobs and sold all their possessions— to spread the word on more than 5,000 billboards and 20 RVs plastered with the Judgment Day message.
Camping had been predicting the coming end of the world since at least 1994. But, as you probably remember, it was the 2011 prediction that made him something of a household name thanks to social media and a page-view-based news cycle (although, to be fair, at least part of that coverage was devoted to how Camping was using church donations to spread his message).
After May 21 came and went with no sign of the Judgment Day, Camping checked his math and decided that he was off by a few months—or, more specifically, that May 21 had been “spiritual” Judgment Day and that the real thing would occur that October. The rescheduled Rapture also came and went with no sign of the four horsemen, at which point Camping was finally able to concede that perhaps he shouldn’t have been in the doomsday business to begin with. “We realize that many people are hoping they will know the date of Christ’s return,” Camping wrote in March of the following year. “We humbly acknowledge we were wrong about the timing.”