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The End Did Come for Some of the Camping Followers [Political Physics]

So Harold Camping was wrong…or partially wrong.

Harold Camping is an American Christian radio broadcaster and he is president of Family Radio, a California-based, multi-million dollar radio station that spans more than 150 markets in the United States and boasts hundreds of thousands of listeners.

Several thousands of these listeners quit their jobs, emptied out their retirement funds, cleared out their kids’ college funds, etc. in preparation for the rapture.  Some donated to Camping’s $100 million marketing campaign to spread the word about the Rapture.  According to Catholic Online.Com, “Camping’s group posted 2,000 billboards around the country warning of the rapture, while Camping, an uncertified fundamentalist minister spread the word on his radio program, Family Radio.”  Others spent their money traveling around the country as missionaries trying to save souls as May 21st approached.

The impending (and now non-manifesting) rapture dominated the mainstream media and social media sites over the past few weeks as we all counted down to the “end.”  Jokes were rampant on Facebook and elsewhere on the Internet.

Then it was six o’clock on Saturday.

No rapture.

It’s not exactly the end of the world as we know it, at least not for most Americans.  But for many of Harold Camping’s followers this is the end of the world as they know it.  Or at least the end of a life of financial solvency, employment and/or savings.

According to The Huffington Post, “Some dipped into their retirement funds, like Robert Fitzpatrick, who spent $140,000 to post billboards advertising for the Day across the nation. Some, like Keith Bauer, drove their families across country in pursuit of devout faith.”  The Examiner.Com, interviewed Adrienne Martinez, a follower of Camping:  Martinez and her husband quit their jobs and spent every last penny in their bank account towards a rented house in Orlando. “We budgeted everything so that, on May 21, we won’t have anything left,” said Martinez.

And beyond the financial devastation, there’s the emotional impact on individuals and their families.  My heart was heavy when I read the NYT article about the Haddad Family.  The parents and their three children were at odds with each other after the mother “left her nursing job to help ‘sound the trumpet’ of Judgment Day.  The family relocated to New York last weekend in the final lap of their evangelical work, towing there unbelieving and protesting children along. According to sixteen-year-old daughter Grace Haddad, her mother scolded her unbelief telling her that she wasn’t going to make it to heaven with her bad attitude.”  It was bad enough that the Haddad’s raided their children’s college fund to fund their evangelical mission but even worse, the family has been torn apart.

The saddest thing that I’ve heard about so far was that suicide hotlines are being set up to counsel Camping followers.

The whole business has made for some very funny jokes on Facebook.  But in the end, even though the true numbers cannot be quantified, there are a lot of families out there who have lost everything – their money, their families and in some cases their futures.  Their worlds are forever changed and some would argue have come to an ugly end.

And that is no lauging matter.